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Royal Commonwealth Society : Native Group, Nicosia

Thomson, John (1837-1921)

Royal Commonwealth Society

<p style='text-align: justify;'>John Thomson (1837-1921) was born and educated in Edinburgh, where he studied chemistry and took up photography. He moved to the Far East in 1862, settling first in Penang and then in Singapore and Hong Kong. Thomson made a number of important photographic tours, visiting Ceylon [Sri Lanka], India, Thailand, Vietnam and China before returning to Britain. In 1878, he travelled to Cyprus and took many photographs, publishing his work in ‘Through Cyprus with the camera’. In 1886 the Royal Geographic Society appointed him photographic tutor to explorers.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>'The accompanying group was taken in front of the ancient Cathedral (now a mosque) of St Sophia. A friendly-disposed crowd of spectators had gathered round the mosque to witness the process of photographing the exterior of the building, and… a large number of native Greeks volunteered to sit for their portraits; those selected were deemed fair specimens of the inhabitants of Nicosia.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The turbaned Turk in the distance was introduced into the picture accidentally. He was leaving the mosque, and, as he halted for a second to view the proceedings, was unconsciously portrayed…There are also three peasants, and on the base of a pilaster sits a merchant of the town. The costume of the Cyprian peasant consists of a fez, bound round by a coloured cotton material. His boots are flat-soled, and…are the most costly part of his attire.’</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>See Janus record <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>here</a></p>

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