Betto (Groom)
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Partial gift from the Wilson Centre for Photography

Felice Beato
British, Japan, 1868
Hand-colored albumen silver print
9 1/16 x 6 1/2 in.

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Holding a harness while standing in front of a saddle--attributes associated with the duties of a betto (groom)--this elaborately decorated man stands with his tattooed back to the camera. An expensive undertaking, the tattoos were acquired over an extended period. Hand coloring allowed Beato to reproduce the tones of the tattoo that the camera was not able to capture. A study of similar photographs of this subject reveals that, in some cases, the colorists, in fact, created the tattoos.