How to Look at My Baby Cousin

To see and understand based on the details of the image that the infant is a female and Tamil baby. Firstly consider what makes this image of a baby understood as a baby? What are the common determinants of a baby that can be found here? The extremely basic description of the infant is obviously how small the infant is. Similar to Elkin`s description of the face and the Egyptian hieroglyphics, there are numerous connected parts that work to define the overall concept. In the image there are the small hands, arms, head, and while covered by a blanket in this image, the definite small legs and feet. The blanket leaves a shape defined enough where one can see the shape of the lower half of the body. Because of how small the overall features are, one can immediately determine this person is an infant of roughly less than a year.

Harkening to the prior section of Elkin`s chapter on the face, there are wrinkles used to determine the age and here by focusing on the specific small parts of the baby, specifically the head, this baby has no wrinkles leading to old age. This train of thought of a lack of wrinkles and a small body immediately connects to youth. However size is of a person is not always a guaranteed factor of age. Ergo by continuing to focus on the face, consider the features. The eyes are closed as the baby is sleeping, but the face is chubby. Further consider the garments worn. A light blue long-sleeved shirt and a red vest with four red buttons worn on the front. This is more typical clothing for infants then older people. These descriptions are not enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt or at least accurately describe a visualize representation of an infant, yet when united together like a body the different parts of the body, the form is realized.

How this is a female, Tamil infant can be seen based on first, the colours of the clothing and the bed. But this point is highly debateable and is murky here. Normally colours of clothing and bed sheets can be signifiers of sex. Yet while the blankets are a pinkish white, the child`s clothes are red and blue and the rolled up comforter being used as a pillow is blue. This is a part of the image just as much as the baby, but it is not enough evidence to determine sex. Another important but insufficient factor is the brown skin, which could also mean the infant is Muslim, Indian, but not specifically Tamil. Yet the key is on the black smudge on the forehead called a Pothu. This is placed, during ceremonial events, on pre-married females in Tamil culture and is customary even among newborns. When married the females use a red one, while the males place white ash on their heads. Also notice how long the hair is. Typically for ceremonies the hair for males, especially infants would cut, yet this child has her hair remained jaggedly upwards.

Muraleetharan, Sathana. “Photo of My Baby Cousin.” February 5th 2017. Digital Photograph.