Maharaja Jung Bahadur Rana

Maharaja Jung Bahadur Rana (1817-1877)
Prime Minister of Nepal

Albumen print on carte-de-visite, c. 1875
Size: 4 x 2.5 in. (10.2 x 6.4 cm)

Inscription: HE Sir Jung Bahadoor of Nepal

Originally called Bir Narsingh Kunwar, he was a Khas Rajput (Chhetri) ruler of Nepal and founder of the Rana Regime in Nepal. Born on 18 June 1817, he was given the name Jung Bahadur by his maternal uncle Mathabar Singh Thapa for his boldness. He was the Prime Minister and virtual ruler of Nepal for approximately more than three decades between 1846 and 1877.

Known for eliminating the factional fighting at the court by removing his family’s rivals like Pandes and Basnyats, he made efforts to modernize Nepal. He is also blamed by historians for setting up an oppressive dictatorship in Nepal that lasted 104 years, also known as the dark period of Nepalese history.

Nepal remained independent while the rest of the Indian subcontinent came under British rule due to his diplomatic skills. During the Indian Mutiny of 1857, he sent a contingent of Gurkha soldiers to aid the British, thus establishing a tradition of Gurkha military service in the British army.

The Maharaja is most likely standing for this picture while looking towards his left with an attendant standing behind him in service. He is wearing an elaborate traditional dress with ceremonial headgear with his long hair peeking out. He has adorned shoulder pads and an embellished sash across to complete the look.