Sādhus of Northern India in the later 20th century

The Hartsuiker Archive of the British Museum

The Hartsuiker Archive of colour photographs has recently been catalogued and made available by the British Museum. 

This archive documents Indian mendicants or Sādhus, mostly Hindu, but including some Jain practitioners, in the later 20th century in northern India. The images were taken by Dolf Hartsuiker over many years, from the 1970s onwards. There are 1900 colour slides, divided in 1600 35mm slides and 300 in 6x6 format.

It offers an extraordinary account of a variety of yogic practices ranging from the physically demanding headstand variations (Viparītikaraṇi) and peacock pose (Mayūrāsana) through to extreme forms of tapas, such as standing on one leg for many years.  The images also include ascetic methods for maintaining the vow of celibacy (brahmacarya) that are still practised in India today.

Here are just a few that we have enjoyed viewing so far. We believe this archive will be a valuable resource that informs ethnographic research in the future.