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Images of history

The recent launch of Omar Khan's book "From Kashmir to Kabul" at the British Council, took the audience on a picturesque journey. The book is about the 19th Century photographers, John Burke and William Baker.


IT WAS an event to look forward to at the British Council for Chennai's book lovers and shutterbugs this past week. For, the launch of Omar Khan's book "From Kashmir to Kabul" took all, who had gathered, on a picturesque journey. The book, which is "about the great careers of two celebrated 19th Century photographers, John Burke and William Baker, and a vast collection of their works," concentrates on the arid landscape and the people from Kashmir to Afghanistan. At the launch, Omar Khan presented slides and spoke about what motivated him to investigate the work of these photographers.

He said, "This book is the first to take an in-depth look at the commendable work of Burke and Baker, for very few photographers of the past have witnessed more wars, events and discoveries than these two."

Khan who has studied philosophy in Germany and the U.S. and has an MBA from Stanford University, said, "The book features photographs from 1860-1900 and captures a little bit of history to make an interesting read." He works as a management consultant and resides at San Francisco.

As for the content... "It records the photographers' early days in Peshawar and their move to Muree and their long connection with Kashmir. The book contains prize-winning pictures and documents of the Afghan Wars (1878-1880) and some early wartime photographs." The book is published by Prestel in Munich, Berlin, London and New York and by Mapin in India.

Said Khan, "The book is of significance because those were the days, when photography was evolving as a medium. In 1995, he created the award-winning website — harappa.com — that gives glimpses of the Indus Valley Civilisation and the British Raj."

About his future plans... Omar said, "I want to take a break and spend quality time with my family. But I am already working towards creating another database of the 19th-Century photographers in India, in particular, from 1845-1947 and also designing a forum to which historians can contribute."

PRASSANA SRINIVASAN

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