Exhibitions, Portrait

On Belonging: Portraits of an ancient Indian community of African descent

All images © Ketaki Sheth, courtesy National Portrait Gallery

"The children who looked at me with hostility are now in the National Portrait Gallery.” Ketaki Sheth on photographing the Sidi, an ostracised and ancient Indian community of African descent.

“At the entrance of the village, there were four boys playing carrom. As I approached they looked at me with such hostility, almost resentment; I was a complete outsider.”

Ketaki Sheth’s first encounter with the Sidi, an Indian community of African descent, was the kind of serendipitous occurrence that sparks photographers to action.

Driving through the Gir Forest National Park while on holiday with her family, she caught glimpse of a village enveloped deep within the forest. Her curiosity piqued, she spent the next six years learning about its inhabitants.

Her exhibition, On Belonging, is currently on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London.


Even for a country that Muhammed Ali Jinnah termed a “subcontinent of nationalities”, the Sidi defy categorisation.

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