Contents and Arrangement

Photographs of Indic Temples and Artwork, 1827-1969 (mostly 1906-1948)

31 boxes

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

This subseries consists primarily of photographs of Indic temples and religious artwork, sculptures, figures, drawings, textiles, jewelry, inscriptions, coins, patterns, dancers, theater actors, and people, primarily from India, and also from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Cambodia, Java, Siam (Thailand), China, Bali, Afghanistan, Burma, Assyria, Greece, Nepal, Persia (Iran), Tibet, Sumatra, Japan, Korea, Laos, Egypt, Turkey, Bhutan, Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Morocco, and Nigeria. Photographs show temples and artwork dating from the 3rd century B.C. until the 19th century. Though some photographs were taken by Coomaraswamy, most were collected from miscellaneous photographers, museums, and archaeological institutions, and many are unattributed.

A significant group of photographs of dancers from India, Ceylon, Bali, Bhutan, Burma, Java, and Thailand are present, including some taken by known dance photographers Thilly Weissenborn (Java, Indonesia, Bali) and Tassilo Adam (Java). Also present are images of local people participating in theater, crafts, and other cultural activities in India and Southeast Asia.

A small file group of related print materials is also present, including notes, correspondence, clippings, typescripts, catalogs, and articles providing description and contextual information for photographed works. Letters, item descriptions, postcards, and black-and-white negatives are also occasionally included along with photographs. Some photographs have detailed captions and stories from Hindu and Buddhist traditions written on the back. Also present is a box of postcards and small photographs of India and Southeast Asia.

Photographs in this subseries were collected by Coomaraswamy as a part of his ongoing research on Indian artwork, including during his long tenure as a curator at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts from 1917 to 1947. Later correspondence suggests that these files were maintained throughout the 1960s by Coomaraswamy's wife, Dona Luisa Coomaraswamy, and successors. Many of the dance photographs present in this subseries can be attributed to Coomaraswamy's relationship with Stella Bloch, a dancer and artist he later married, who accompanied him on a collecting trip to India and Asia in 1920 and 1921. Bloch studied dances from every country they visited and later performed them in New York and Boston.


Arranged into six file groups by genre, followed by mounted and oversize prints and a group of postcards.

Collection History


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

Biography written by Jessica Marati, '08. Finding aid updated with new additions by Kelly Bolding in December 2013, May 2014, and November 2021.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Photographs of Indic Temples and Artwork; Ananda K. Coomaraswamy Papers, C0038, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • ReCAP (rcpxm): Box 62-92

Find More