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Jungle life in India

Identifier: Film Collection no. 198

Scope and Contents

Filmed during the AMNH Faunthorpe-Vernay Indian Expedition to India, Nepal and Burma, 1922-1923. This film was made by Commander George M. Dyott, a professional cinematographer, whose main purpose was to show the environment of India, Nepal, and Burma, and therefore be valuable to the hall preparators designing the dioramas for the AMNH Hall of South Asiatic Mammals. The co-leaders of the expedition were Colonel John Champion Faunthorpe and AMNH trustee Arthur Stannard Vernay, both Englishmen, who volunteered to collect the specimens for the museum, on the condition that the museum would provide a good taxidermist to prepare those specimens; Louis Jonas, AMNH taxidermist, was sent. The film opens in Bombay Harbor with a view of the city, and guests in open carriages accompanied by escorts arriving at the Taj Mahal Hotel. At the Faunthorpes' home, in Lucknow, Vernay arrives by car and is met by Faunthorpe; greetings are exchanged by several officials and their wives. In the streets of Bombay, Nautch dancers perform, accompanied by a man playing a large ideophone with a bow, and another man singing. A map showing the zig-zagging expedition route from several points in India, to Burma, Nepal, and back again is shown. In the Mysore grass hut camp of Hool Patchi Hulla, Vernay demonstrates how to mount a howdah elephant and Faunthorpe mounts a pad elephant; the use of an ankus, or elephant goading hook, is also demonstrated. On their way through the jungle, the natives beat out a grass fire and sight a dead gaur. In Bhopal, street dancers and musicians perform and a man, dressed as a woman, dances with an orchestra. An official procession of guests of His Highness the Begum and General Sahib is photographed standing in front of the white palace. In another grass camp, Nepalese dancers, with beards, and one in an elaborate peacock costume, perform a traditional dance. In Burma, while professionals dance and smoke cheroots, student dancers are taught their art by an instructor. An orchestra of gongs (kyi-waing) and drums encircles the dancers and serves as musical accompaniment. A sequence on working elephants follows, showing the difficulty of pulling teak logs through deep mud. On hunting elephants, hunters stand in howdahs as mahouts guide the elephants while other mahouts ride pad elephants that will carry the killed quarry. Here a swamp deer is collected. The region is most likely the swamps of the Oudh Plains, south of the Himalayas, that drain into the Ganges River. In camp, a European gentleman appears briefly, flanked by his two spaniels: a rather incongruous sight in this setting. The film ends with shots of Burmese temples, village women fetching water from a well, and an old man bathing.


  • 1922-1923

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Not available through interlibrary loan. Contact AMNH Library Special Collections for terms of access.


1 Film Reel (20 minutes) : silent, black and white ; 16 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (20 minutes)) : silent, black and white ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy


Original format: 16 mm. print; incomplete.



George M. Dyott, photographer.

Jungle life in India, 1922-1923
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
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New York NY 10024 USA
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