Tripe was a career military officer in India and, in the late 1850s, government photographer to the Madras Presidency. In just five years he made nearly one thousand views of India and Burma. In this view of a teppakulam, or tank, in Madurai, South India, the mirror-like surface of the water reflects the stripes of the surrounding stone wall. In the accompanying text, Tripe explained that during an annual Hindu festival, likenesses of the god Sundareshwara and goddess Minakshi were rowed around in "a gaily decorated raft," and then brought inside the pavilion, whose intricately carved central tower rises from a mass of dense foliage.
Linnaeus Tripe (British, Devonport (Plymouth Dock) 1822–1902 Devonport)
With the invention of photography, the eighteenth-century British passion for recording exotic lands and studies of the peoples in India was given new impetus. The earliest photography on the continent dates from 1840 in Calcutta, the political center of British India. The technology for photography arrived in India quickly became popular among the local rulers-many of whom employed photographers at their courts-as well as the British who had come to make their fortunes in the colony. For both populations, the new medium replaced painting as the method for recording the local landscape, architecture, people, and important events.