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Saint Nihal Sing, "The Picturesque Immigrant from India's Coral Strand" (1909)

Essay in Los Angeles-based Out West magazine by Saint Nihal Singh on the Hindu immigrant in North America, with an emphasis on the Hindu's "picturesque" qualities and dress. Singh provides descriptions of clothes and hairstyles worn by the "Mahometan," the Sikh soldier, as well as other "specimens of the Hindu genus homo." Singh also makes several comparisons along the lines of the racial pseudoscience of the period: "A number of the Hindoo immigrants have kinky hair like a negro's wool," and elsewhere, "The hide of the Hindoo varies from the dull, pale, sallow-brown of a Mexican to the extreme black of an African." The article delves into caste distinctions between the "dusky immigrants," but concludes that the experience of being new arrivals has "broken the back-bone of caste."

In addition to Singh's emphasis on physical descriptions and classifications, he provides an overview of the history of South Asian immigration to Canada and the U.S., and the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. The essay includes several photographs captioned as follows: "A Group of East-Indian Students in the United States," "A Typical Hindoo Student," "A Brahmin Priest," "Hindu Missionaries to America," "A Sikh and a Mohammedan," "Two Military Men from India," "A Sikh Priest."

Early Immigration

Date: 1909
Language: English
Source: Out West
Creator: Saint Nihal Singh

Item History: 2011-07-14 (created); 2013-08-27 (modified)

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