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This picture shows an unruly sporting event at the court of the Nawab (governor) of Oudh in northern India. It highlights the looser moral codes of colonial life. In Britain, cockfighting was frowned on as cruel, but in colonial India the ‘normal’ rules of morality did not apply. One cock belongs to the Nawab (standing in the centre) and one to the British mercenary, Colonel Mordaunt (left, in white), commander of the Nawab’s bodyguard. 

Oudh was not directly ruled by the British in the eighteenth century. However, as in much of India, Britain had considerable influence with the powerful local rulers

February 2004