India—Fakir with Monkeys


This photograph of an Indian fakir is from the Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection at the Library of Congress. Frank G. Carpenter (1855–1924) was an American writer of books on travel and world geography, whose works helped to popularize cultural anthropology and geography in the United States in the early years of the 20th century. Consisting of photographs taken and gathered by Carpenter and his daughter Frances (1890–1972) to illustrate his writings, the collection includes an estimated 16,800 photographs and 7,000 glass and film negatives. In his Carpenter’s New Geographical Reader: Asia (1923) Carpenter wrote about the importance of asceticism and self-denial in the Hindu religion, noting that “some forsake home and friends to wander among strangers. In order to became holy, some fast until they are all skin and bone; some sleep on beds of broken stones or sharp spikes, while others try to do without sleep altogether. One may stand on one leg for days at a time, and another may hold up his arm or leg until it becomes stiff and cannot move.”

Last updated: January 8, 2018