Rare photograph of Chola Princess Kundavai housed in the British Museum in Malaysia.
Link to the post can be found here.
A Google reverse image search on the picture led us to a Pinterest post carrying the viral photograph with the caption, “Portrait of a Seated Girl Wearing Jewellery, from Madras in Tamil Nadu – 1872.”
The Pinterest post attributed the photograph to ‘Old India Photos’ and shared a link to the said website. We followed the link to the website, and found that the viral photograph claiming to show Chola Princess Kundavai was further attributed to the British Library.
Notably, Old India Photo also identified the viral picture as the “Portrait of a Seated Girl Wearing Jewellery, from Madras in Tamil Nadu – 1872.” Elaborating about the photograph, it stated, “Studio portrait of a seated girl wearing jewellery, from Madras in Tamil Nadu, taken in c. 1872, from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections. This photograph is attributed to the Madras School of Industrial Arts which was an important training centre for photographers in the area, established in 1850. Many examples of jewellery from India were shown at the London Universal Exhibition of 1872 and this photograph may have been one of those exhibited to demonstrate the way it was worn. The girl is wearing the fine ceremonial sari and jewelled head-dress worn by a bride on her wedding day.”
Following this, we looked up keywords “Madras, “Tamil Nadu 1872” & “ girl wearing jewellery” on the official website of the British Library, and found the viral photograph. The picture was titled “Madras girl wearing jewellery, from the International Exhibition of 1872.“
The date of the photo was mentioned as 1872, while the photographer was identified as the Madras School of Industrial Arts. The description of the picture read the same as in the Old India Photos.
Notably, the viral photograph was actually taken in 1872 (19th century), while Chola Princess Kundavai is said to have lived through the 10th century.
We could thus conclude that the viral photograph does not show Chola Princess Kundavai, but a regular 19-century woman from Tamil Nadu.
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