The subject’s name and even nationality are unknown. By his head and footwear he appears to be preparing for, or perhaps just returned from, a trek along India’s North West Frontier or some back-of-beyond place in Central Asia. I like to think of him as one of those polymath soldier/explorers like Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton or Colonel Fred Burnaby. Certainly, he was a character right out of Kipling’s imagination.
His head is wrapped in a turban, while his lower legs are protected by puttees and his feet clad in local sandals. His clothing consists of a matching jacket, waistcoat, and britches which appear to be of a very coarse, tweed-like fabric. Well-armed, he holds what appears to be a large-bore double rifle or perhaps shotgun (what may be an express-type rifle sight is visible just forward the breech end of the barrels). A coffin-handled Bowie knife completes his kit. Perhaps a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society?
Based on the photograph’s thin and very plain card mount, it appears to date from the early to mid-1870s.
J. Newman – Photographer