The Pictures of Dorien Leigh

This has been a tough challenge, but I have not been able find any information about the photographer Dorien Leigh, whose photographs appear in the 1939 edition of The Modern Pictorial World Atlas, published by the Sun News-Pictorial, Melbourne, Australia. The atlas contains 64 pages of maps in full colour, and 120 pp. gazetteer, text and index. It also contains 69 photographs in gravure of the ‘People of the Earth’ attributed to photographic contributors, E.N.A., Blue Star, and Dorien Leigh.

The ‘gravure’ mentioned is a photographic process short for photogravure, which is an intaglio print-making or photo-mechanical process where a copper plate is grained and then coated with a light-sensitive gelatin tissue which had been exposed to a film positive, and then etched.

  • The eight images featured above are attributed to Leigh and include a young Sudanese woman, an Australian indigenous man; and an old man from Morocco. Some have accompanying text, describing the scene. These include:

The Storywriter: An author at work in the East Indies. A small child of Bali, the island in the Dutch East Indies, (now Indonesaia) watches absorbed; while an elder writes a story on a palm leaf, pricking out the characters with a curiously-shaped knife for a “pen” and reciting his tale as he works.

A West Madi hunter from the source of the Nile. The man from Albert Nyanza is shown hunting with bow and arrow; and carrying a long hunting horn, which plays only two notes – one an octave above the other. Albert Nyanza is now known as Lake Albert, or Lake Mobutu Sese Seko, northernmost of the lakes in the Western Rift Valley, in east-central Africa, on the border between Congo (Kinshasa) and Uganda.

Bathing in the Holy River at the City of Temples and Shrines. Benares is a mecca of the Hindus and thousands of pilgrims visit it every year to bathe in the Holy River Ganges. The Hindus worship the gods Shiva, the destroyer; and Vishnu, the preserver; and observe a very rigid caste system. Benares is now known as Varanasi, a city in Northern India. The city is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and is not only the spiritual capital of India, but also the holiest of seven sacred cities in Hinduism, and it played a significant role in the development of Buddhism.

An indigenous North American Moqui Indian. The Moqui, or Pueblo Indians lived in Apache county, northeastern Arizona. They were located on what is known as the Moqui reservation, their old lands were set aside to them out of the Navajo reservation by proclamation on December 16, 1882. The name, which they call themselves is Ho-pi or Ho-pi-tuh-le-nyu-muh meaning “peaceful people”. The Zuñi knew them in 1540 and prior as the A-mo-kwi. The Spaniards changed this to Moqui or Moki. However, in Moqui language, moki means “dead”.

A Hukul man of Ruthenia. Following the partitions of Poland-Lithuania in the late 18th century, Rusyn-inhabited lands were divided between the Russian Empire (present-day Belarus and much of Ukraine); and the Austrian, later Austro-Hungarian, Empire (present-day western Ukraine, southeastern Poland, and northeastern Slovakia). In the course of the “long” 19th century (1780s–1914), the name Ruthenian fell out of use in the Russian Empire and was replaced by either White Russian or Little Russian. The term Ruthenian continued to be used in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as the official designation for the East Slavic inhabitants living in that state’s provinces of Galicia and Bukovina; and the northeastern counties of Hungary. A large-scale immigration from Austria-Hungary to North America during the half century before World War I saw the introduction of the term Ruthenian, to describe those newcomers in American and Canadian census reports.

How the world has changed in 82 years!

Website | About | Facebook | Twitter

“Is It Art?”

Source: The Modern Pictorial World Atlas. The Sun News-Pictorial Melbourne (1939)
This entry was posted in Art, photographic art. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply