Looking for a Parsi Gentleman


My name is Shirin Nawab and I am trying to find out about a relative that we dont know much about. Our grandfather was Parsee and my cousin and I found this picture in one of the family picture boxes when he passed. My cousin was obsessed with our family tree, but unfortunately she passed in a tragic accident last year and I try to finish her wish and task to find out more about our family history.  We have tried to find out who he is but we struggle to make out the identity. Maybe you know more about the uniform of this time and where we could find out more.

Thank you very much.
Best regards,
Shirin Nawab



  • Try ancestry.com & may be it will help

  • This is a studio portrait of a Parsi gentleman in one of the regiments of the British army based in Secunderabad.
    The photograher P.METZKER, of European origin, operated a studio in Secunderabad from the 1880s to the early 1900s.
    The name of the subject may be written in ink at the back of the card on which the photograph is pasted.
    Excellent condition for a 19th Century photograph.

    The person, dressed as a military officer, is wearing a straight cavalry sword, cavalry boots and spurs.

    So, he probably belonged to a cavalry regiment.

    There were no Indian officers in any British regiment, infantry, cavalry or artillery.

    In the British Indian Army, cavalry regiments had Indian officers only as Viceroy’s Commissioned Officers, (presently called Junior Commissioned Officers, JCO’s ), of Risaldar and Risaldar Major, corresponding to Subedar and Subedar-Major in infantry regiments.

    There were no Indian officers in the British Indian Army, (except doctor officers from the AMC, Army Medical Corps), until after the “Indianization reforms” grudgingly introduced in the wake of WW1.

    So this Indian cavalry officer was most likely from a cavalry unit belonging to one of the princely States.

    Since the photo frame is stamped “Secunderabad”, the main military cantonment of the Hyderabad State, the photo is probably of an officer, (there were also Arabs, Africans, Iranians, Circassians, Georgians, Turks and other nationalities), serving in one of the Hyderabad cavalry units.

    I am told there are/were African Cavalry Guards Barracks in Hyderabad or in Secunderabad.

    The Hyderabad Imperial Lancers consisted of two regiments, the 1st and 2nd Lancers, which were raised by the Hyderabad State in the late 19th century ostensibly to aid British military efforts in Frontier warfare in NWFP/Afghanistan.
    These were maintained on the Silladar system.

    In addition, there were also the Paigah (Household) troops which were styled as the Jahan Numa Lancers and maintained by a hereditary jagir granted initially to Abul Khair Khan as the Shams-ul-Mulk and subsequently to his descendants.

    The famous cavalry regiments of the princely states which served in WW1, were the Hyderabad Lancers, Mysore Lancers and the Jodhpur Lancers.

    My guess is that this officer is from the 1st or 2nd Imperial Hyderabad Lancers.

    You can check out the uniform which is specific to particular units at a specific point of time.

    Courtesy : Jehangir Bisney

  • He may be Khan Bahadur Taraporewalla.
    The title given by Nizam of Hyderabad. He was
    Nizam’s finance minister. Nizam had full trust in Parsis , more than anyone else.
    I’ll try to find out more.
    “Another name that comes to mind was “Talyarkhan”, he was very close to Khan Bahadur Taraporevala.”
    – Sarosh Khambatta

  • It might also be worth checking to see if Metzger’s studio output has been archived somewhere. If it has, then there may also be a client list linking with negatives which would enable you to identify the sitter in the photo. Alistair (London)

  • Mohammed Raihan Ali Khan

    Hi Shirin Nawab,

    My Name is Raihan, Please get in touch with me as early as you can.

    I have all the details about this Gentlemen because I am his great grand son. My email address is raihanalikhan@gmail.com.

    I will share all the details once i receive your reply on this message.

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