'Khyber Chiefs and Khans...', c 1878.
© NMeM / Kodak Collection / Science & Society
A photograph of a group of Afghan chieftains sitting beneath the walls of a fort, taken by John Burke [1845-1900] in about 1878. This photograph is from an album entitled 'The Afghan War, Attogk to Jellalabad, Gandamak and Surkhab'. In the centre of the group sits a British political officer, Captain Tucker. A cross between a scout, a diplomat and a spy, part of his job would have been to contact local forces and get them to support the British war effort. A pioneer of photography in India, John Burke began working in Peshawar, as an assistant to the commercial photographer William Baker. Baker took up photography on retiring from the British Army in 1861 and Burke himself had worked as an apothecary in the Royal Artillery. When Baker stopped working in 1873 Burke carried on, recording the evolution of the Indian Raj in the late nineteenth century. Burke accompanied the British army on its advance into Afghanistan during the Second Afghan War of 1878-1879.