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Sailors and Daughters: Early Photography and the Indian Ocean

Arab Ladies, Zanzibar A.C. Gomes and Son Postcard, collotype Zanzibar, c. 1910 TZ 20-17 Courtesy the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution

Arab Ladies, Zanzibar
A.C. Gomes and Son
Postcard, collotype
Zanzibar, c. 1910
TZ 20-17 Courtesy the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives
National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution


The Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean: From Oman to East Africa project is proud to present Sailors and Daughters: Early Photography and the Indian Ocean World, the Museum’s first-ever online exhibit made possible by a gift from the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center. Sailors and Daughters reveals the expansive maritime societies of Zanzibar, the east African coast, and Persian Gulf. From the 1840’s, cameras traced the international migrations of traders, sailors, sons, and daughters through Indian Ocean ports, continuing trade that dates back over five millennia. For instance, a highlight of the exhibition brings together early images by German photographer Hermann Burkhardt of Oman in 1904, which resemble photographs captured in Stone Town. East African cities flourished as hubs of both land and sea trade routes, which extended to the central African interior, the Middle East, Indian Ocean islands, western India and the Far East.

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