Photo 1 Teachers and Students, Karaikudi, Chettinad, Tamil Nadu, circa 1900. 15 x 11 cms (6 x 4 ¼ ins) Price: £100
The Chettiars are a merchant community, who migrated to Tamil Nadu, possibly from Assam, during the Chola period. Establishing themselves in the district between Tanjavur (Tanjore) and Madurai, the community regarded itself more as a clan than a caste. From the early 19th century, through the Colonial period, the Chettiars enjoyed great prosperity, which enabled them to build houses ornamented with fascinating woodcarvings whose subject matter reflects both their heritage and their distinct taste. Many Chettiars suffered a reduction in their circumstances during the Second World War and a large number of their mansions have fallen into disrepair or been demolished.