This 19th-century photograph was printed on very thin paper and glued to a stiffer paper mount. At some point the mount was trimmed to the dimensions of a postcard, possibly so that it would fit into an album. The back is blank. I bought it from a dealer in Suffolk, England, who couldn’t tell me anything about it. I looked at pictures of stringed instruments online and concluded that the man in the photo must be holding an Indian instrument called a tambura (tanpura).
Tamburas from North India traditionally used a gourd as a resonator, while those from South India had a resonator made from carved jackwood, as this one appears to have. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has a beautiful example of an early 19th-century Tanjore tāmbūra from the collection of Indian dancer, singer and painter Y. G. Srimati (1926-2007). Images of that instrument on the museum’s website are in the public domain, so I can share them with you below (read about it here):
The Metropolitan held the first retrospective exhibition of Y. G. Srimati’s paintings from Dec. 2016 to June 2017.
Tanjore is the Anglicized name of the ancient cultural city of Thanjavur, in southeastern India.
Hindustani musicians prefer the word tanpura, while Carnatic musicians use tambura (Wikipedia).