Village with a small tulsi altar and a watercarrier with his bullock - Watercolour by William Prinsep 1840

Watercolour by William Prinsep (1794-1874), of a village in India with a small 'tulsi' altar and a watercarrier with his bullock, dated between the 1830s and 1840s. Watercarriers or 'bheesties' were a common sight in India. Those who used a bullock to carry their water containers were known as 'pukkallis'. Sometimes they were employed as servants to wealthy households but otherwise delivered water to the general population. At the time this painting was completed, they also served in the Army and were assigned to specific regiments during campaigns. They were often commended for their bravery under fire whilst carrying out their duties. William Prinsep, a merchant with the Calcutta firm of Palmer & Company, came from a family that served in India for several generations.

source: British Library ( )