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Indian History Carnival-64: Charles Dellon, Jai Singh, Sir William Jones, Jallianwalla Bagh

  1. Maddy has an introductory post about Charles Dellon, a French Catholic physician who traveled to India in the 17th century. He was captured by the Goan Inquisition and also made interesting observations about Kerala

    He is surprised that the Malabar Nair lady does not use perfumes and uses just coconut oil for the hair, not even adorning flowers unlike the women of Surat. He is mystified that North Malabar men eat animals like boar, but never a rabbit. The elephant amazes him, with its intelligence and he testifies to the same with a couple of interesting stories. Some of the aspects of his account especially the guard/escort systems provided by the Nairs, excommunication and outcastes, the Zamorin’s chief lieutenant etc. have been hardly mentioned in such detail by other writers so I will perhaps cover them later in a more factual essay. In fact he mentions that the Nairs of 1670, were sharp shooters carrying both muskets and the ball making molds, firing them with the rifle butt on the cheek, unlike Europeans who kept the butt on the shoulder. They had other arms too like the six foot bow and arrows, scimitars and lances. But then again, according to Dellon, even though courageous, the Nair’s never maintained order while marching, and were not structured or disciplined during combat. He spends a few paragraphs on the Moplah’s and states clearly that a tenth of the proceeds of their piratical endeavors were submitted to the prince of the land.

  2. Mughal India blog has an illustrated post explaining how Jai Singh’s observatory in Jaipur worked

    The observatories in Delhi and Jaipur consist of a number of masonry instruments grouped together in enclosures, usually referred to as Jantar Mantar. These were to some extent inspired by instruments developed in Samarkand by Ulugh Beg (1394-1449), and doubtless Jai Singh hoped to see continued there further work of that kind. By far the most interesting of them is the large sextant enclosed in a chamber in which the sun’s light is admitted through small holes in a brass sheet. At noon the disk of the sun is projected, as in a pinhole camera, onto the scale of the sextant. Since a scale was inscribed on the sextant it was possible not only to examine the disk of the sun, but to determine in this way the true altitude of the sun on any day.

  3. Kathy Lazenbatt, Librarian of the Royal Asiatic Society, recently presented some of the botanical drawings of Sir William Jones and his wife Lady Anna Maria Jones.

    The letters of Sir William Jones show that he first developed an interest in botany shortly after arriving in India when he was convalescing after an illness. His doctor had suggested that Jones undertake some gentle activity such as examining plants and lent him a copy of a work by Linnaeus. This soon developed into a pastime which husband and wife could enjoy together, with Sir William examing and describing the plants and Lady Anna Maria illustrating them. Watercolour painting and sketching were considered very suitable leisure activities for English ladies at that time.

  4. On 13th of April, 1919, the British empire murdered Indians at Jallianwalla Bagh. Abhinav Agarwal writes about the event and the aftermath.

    So, while Gandhiji’s reaction to the massacre “appears to be somewhat mysterious”, “The great poet Rabindranath Tagore relinquished his Knighthood as a measure of protest”, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya “patiently collected the details of the tragic incident”, and the 92 leading questions that he tried to place in the Central Legislative Council were disallowed by the Viceroy. It is a sad commentary on how heroes are treated in this world, that the British government had to intervene to provide immunity to the heroes of these murders. The Government brought out a Bill of Indemnity “for protecting the civil and military officials in the Punjab from consequences of their action.”

We welcome contributions to the carnival, if they satisfy the following rules

  1. The entry must be a blog post and not a newspaper article
  2. It should have a connection to India
  3. The e-mail should have “Carnival” in the subject line, else it will escape my filter.

Please send your nominations by e-mail to varnam.blog @gmail. The next carnival will be up on May 15th.

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