Mar 4, 2015

Photo of Rani Chennamma of Kittur?

Most historical celebrities' pictures are artistic depictions in the form of paintings or statues. There are exceptions when great rulers have their pictures painted by well known artists and if those paintings survived test of time then we had a chance to see them. Then came photography, invented during the beginning of 19th century, was brought to India by the British and some of our kings, queens, princes and princesses were photographed. Photographs remained private property, common folks rarely got to see ancient photographs. With Internet opening up boundaries people could see the unseen. Curiosity fueled research which lead to discovery of hidden and forgotten photographs.

Few months back a friend from Dharwad called to tell about an article in Vijayavani newspaper October 10, 2014 edition.
ಈ ಸಂಪದದ ಬರಹಗಾರರು ಯ.ರು. ಪಾಟೀಲ.
ಚೆನ್ನಮ್ಮನ ಚಿತ್ರದ ಕುರಿತು ಕಿತ್ತೂರಿನ ಪ್ರಾಚ್ಯವಸ್ತು ಇಲಾಖೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಾಚ್ಯವಸ್ತು ಸಂಗ್ರಹಾಲಯದ ಅಸಿಸ್ಟೆಂಟ್ ಕ್ಯೂರೇಟರ್ ರಾಘವೆಂದ್ರರಿಂದ ತಿಳಿದುಬಂತು.
ಧಾರವಾಡ ತಾಲೂಕಿನ ಕಲ್ಲೂರಿನ ಕುವೆಂಪು ಶತಮಾನೋತ್ಸವ ಮಾದರಿ ಶಾಲೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಈ ಚಿತ್ರ ದೊರೆತದ್ದು.
ಬೆಳಗಾವಿ ಜಿಲ್ಲಾ ಪಂಚಾಯತಿಯ ನಿಕಟಪೂರ್ವ ಉಪಾಧ್ಯಕ್ಷ ಪರಮೇಶ್ವರಪ್ಪ ದಂಡೀನರವರ ತಂದೆ ಕೊಟ್ಟಿದ್ದ ಚಿತ್ರ.

The article authored by Shri. Y R Patil carried a photograph which was supposed to be of Rani Chennamma. The author got a hint of the photo at Kittur historical museum and traced it to Kuvempu Centenary Model School (Kuvempu Shatamanotsava Madari Shaale), Kallur village in Dharwad district. Kallur is about 23 kms from Kittur and 20 kms from Dharwad. The photo was originally at Kallur Gram Panchayath office and it was given to Shri. Parameshwarappa Dandin by his father saying that it is Chennamma. The photo was taken to the school so that students could see it.

This lady here could be of anyone.. however it is believed to be Rani Chennamma's because of few reasons;
  1. age of the photo
  2. place where it was found; Kallur village was part of Belavadi Samsthan (Belavadi Malamma was another brave queen who took control of the kingdom) later it became part of Kittur Samsthan. 
  3. The lady is attire is ancient fashion; the saree seems to be expensive silk with gold border. Jewelry includes gold/pearl necklaces, ear ring, and pearl nose-ring. Back then only a person from rich landlords could afford such expensive saree and jewelry.
The author does not confirm the lady's identity but he says it is most likely Rani Chennamma. Author has asked for people's opinion on this matter.

In my opinion the chances of this lady being Chennamma is high because of another reason. Chennamma was friendly with European people, she often has them as guests at the palace. It is said that she spoke English. It is possible that a European photographer might have visited Kittur palace and the queen was photographed. That photo graph somehow made its way to Kallur village...

Coming back to paintings.. here is a collection of paintings of Chennamma created during a Kittur Utsav.


Manjula Umesh said...

The elegant look of the lady is compelling me to believe that pic may be of the great lady Rani Chennammaji. It's nice to know about this, Thanks for sharing.

justrippingg said...


Shared the post with a friend. This is what she has to say - Cant think what to think, Nirdesh ! Could be - couldnt be. Equal chance ......had she been photographed, it would have been by a brit only. And am sure he would have given it publicity, becoz she was royalty. It would have been in the archives in london along with other Raj memorabilia, with a note identifying her. And people who have done copious research among those papers would have found some mention of it somewhere, before this pic turned up in a school. Also she died much before photography came to India in a big way.



Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing picture and information about channamma. ......quite an interesting article. ..

Unknown said...

It seems to be of Rani Chennamma only, more important is our love, affection and respect goes to Rani’s personality like her bravery her integrity and Attitude than mere Image.

Anonymous said...

Rani Chennamma died in 1829, far too early to have been photographed. Photography only really got started in 1836; the first photograph known to include people dates from 1838, and photographic portraits of people didn't appear until the 1840's. Sorry to say, but any claim this is a photograph of the rani is just wishful thinking.

siddeshwar said...

I agree.

Pavan said...

The First Photograph. The world's first photograph made in a camera was taken in 1826 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. The photograph was taken from the upstair's windows of Niépce's estate in the Burgundy region of France.
Rani Chennamma -> 1824

Bhagya.. said...

Why she could not be belavadi mallamma...