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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Joseph David Beglar

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Names:
Other: J.D. Beglar 
Active:  India
 
  
Photographer active in India in the nineteenth century who was Assistant to the Archaeological Survey of India. His work on Delhi features in the "Archaeological Survey of India: Report for the year 1871-1872".

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John Falconer, British Library 
A Biographical Dictionary of 19th Century Photographers in South and South-East Asia

 
Amateur, India
Executive Engineer and Archaeological Survey. Worked for Archaeological Survey of India from 1860s-80 and produced over for 400 photographs for their records. In 1871 he photographed the stupa of Bharhut: see Alexander Cunningham's The Stupa of Bharhut (London, 1879). Supervised the controversial restoration work at Bodh Gaya, 1880. Retired from the Archaeological Survey in 1880 and was succeeded by H. B. W. GARRICK.
 
Author: Report of a tour through the Bengal provinces of Patna, Gaya, Mongir..and Hughli; in 1872-73 (1878).
 
He is buried in the Armenian Church at Chinsura, where his tomb bears the following inscription: ‘In memory of Joseph, son of David Feridonowitch Melik Beglaroff, of Karabagh, late Executive Engineer, P.W.D., and Archaeological Surveyor, Bengal. Born 25th June 1845, died 24th April 1907, at Chakdaha.’[1] A letter and report from Beglar in April 1869, encloses 21 photographs and 13 stereographs, of remains in the Burrakur [Barakar] Division:
...They were taken long ago, when I was in the Burrakur Division, and represent the architectural remains thereabouts. The stereographs show on the back where the ruins are. The larger photographs have been roughly printed, and are intended merely to convey an idea of ruins. I have found no opportunity to print them carefully.[2]
Beglar goes on to give a brief account of the ruins at Panchet Hill and (?)Talecoopy where the photographs were taken:
The view of these ruins is very imposing and very humiliating; these massive structures meant to endure for ever, have become ruins, to be gazed at and pitied, to stand desolate and shattered, by apparently the weakest agencies, mementos alike of human wisdom and of human folly, of power and of weakness, of man’s aspirations, and of their disappointment.’
Clements Markham gives a brief account of his archaeological career under Alexander Cunningham:
In 1871 General Cunningham commenced work with the aid of two assistants, Mr J.D. Beglar and Mr A.C.L. Carlleyle, beginning with a survey of the two great capitals of the Mogul Empire, Delhi and Agra. Mr Carlleyle undertook the survey of Agra and Mr Beglar that of Delhi, and both surveys were completed in October 1871. In 1872 Mr Carlleyle was sent to Rajputana, and Mr Beglar to Bandalkhand...In 1872-73 General Cunningham and Mr Beglar explored the greater part of the Central Provinces, the General taking the western and Mr Beglar the eastern half...[3]
The results of this appeared in Beglar’s Report of a Tour in Bundelkhand and Malwa, 1871-72; and the Central Provinces, 1873-74 (A.S.I. vol. VII, Calcutta, 1878), in the introduction to which Cunningham states that
One of the main objects in Bundelkhand was to obtain photographs of the magnificent temples of Khajuraha. This was successfully accomplished...Photographs were also made of the richly-carved temples at Pathari and Udaypur...Mr Beglar also made a very rich collection of photographs of the curious old temples in these little known places.
Assistant to Cunningham from early 1860s (responsible for excavation of Iron Pillar at Qutb, c.1863 and building of masonry base?)
 
Cunningham discovered the remains of the stupa at Bharhut in November 1873 and after a further visit in February 1874 Beglar was sent to continue the excavations:
In the beginning of March [1874] the work of excavation [of the Bharhut Stupa] was taken up by my zealous assistant Mr J.D. Beglar, who continued the excavation round the whole circle of the railing. To him we owe the discovery of the valuable Prasenajit Pillar, of the famous Jetavana scene, and of many of the most interesting coping stones. He made photographs of the sculptures as they were found; but as each day's discoveries only showed how much was still left to be explored, the work was closed in the beginning of April.[4]
 
  
 
  

Footnotes 
  
  1. Λ See photograph of tombstone taken July 1996, by John Falconer. 
      
  2. Λ Letter from J.D. Beglar, Officiating Executive Engineer, Burhee Division, to the Superintending Engineer, Western Circle, dated Bogodhur, 24 April 1869, enclosed with a memorandum sending the photographs on to the General Department of the Bengal Government. Bengal General Proceedings, no.93 of May 1869, 49-51, IOR/P/432/5. 
      
  3. Λ Clements Markham, A Memoir of Indian Surveys
      
  4. Λ Alexander Cunningham, The Stupa of Bharhut (London, 1879), introduction p. v. 
      
 
  

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