Figure 1.--This is a fascinating CDV portrait of a unidentified boy on Ile Maurice (Mauritius). It is undated, but the studio set and clithes are almost certinly from the 1860s which tells us that photographers had reached Reunion and Mauitius by the 1860s. The photographer was CH Saunier of Ile de la Reunion who also set up a studio on Mauritius. The boy looks to be the son of a French planter and former Madagascar slave. (The British emancipated slaves in the 1830s.) As he is dressed in fashionable French clothing (except for shoes) and having a portrait made, he is probably being raised as the planter's son.

Mauritius is a small island in the Indian Ocean located east of Madagascar and Reunion. Unlike Oceania, several Indian Ocean islands were not reached by humans before the modern era. We have some information on Mauritius history. The island was unpopulated when the Portuguese discovered it. The Dutch seized the islands and brought in Africa slaves, but failed to establish a profitable colony. The French acquired it and established a flourishing sugar industry based on slave labor. Reunion thus became part of the Indian Ocean slave trade. Most of the slaves were obtained from Madagascar. The British seized the island during the Napoleonic Wars, but allowed it to remain culturally French. After the abolition of slavery, the planters contracted indentured labor in India. We notice photofraphy on Mauritius as early as the 1860s. Britain granted independence (1968). Having no mineral resources, it lives mainly on sugar, textile and tourism.


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Created: 1:56 AM 7/4/2010
Last updated: 1:56 AM 7/4/2010