British India Era Servant, 1912 Postcard


This is an old 1912 postcard on British India era servants. A colonial master and his servant. A reference to Indian servants from an old 1892 book on everyday life in India reveals that Europeans living in India were obliged to keep a significant number of servants. Even a tiny family would have at least half a dozen of them.

A larger white family obviously would have a bigger number of servants. Yet the wages for the whole troop of them were scarcely more than that of two or three servants in Europe. In India, at that time there was enough manpower than industries. The book goes on to ascertain that it is a kind of charity to provide work for the greatest possible number.

And to introduce labour-saving machines except for good economical reasons would be unnecessary cruelty to the poor, willing labourers of the land. The following is somewhat a full list of servants, such as would be required by a high-grade European official with family. Very few female servants are employed, and the general term by which a servant is called irrespective of age, size, or dignity, is “boy.” The head-boy, cook, waterman, sweeper, gardener, washerman, tailor, and ayah are absolutely necessary in all families. Click on the photo for better view.

Did you know- other than the above there was also the punkah-puller, who was employed for half the year. Both day and night punkahs are required. One puller is necessary for the day and two for the night.  See post Colonial India Bungalow With Punkah, Old Photo 1870.

More from the collection- Drawing Hiding The Taj Mahal WW2., General Post Office Building In Chennai – Old Photo 1890., Strand Road Kolkata & Horse-Drawn Tram – Old Postcard., The British Fort In Bombay – Antique Plan 1755