Indian history

Now reading: The stories every picture tells

An initiation into the Sarmaya team involves the confrontation of and acclimating to certain books from our library. New ‘uns are told this is necessary reading meant to familiarise them with the genres of the collection. Each object inhabits a world that is resonant and multi-faceted and it’s impossible to know where to start. “Today… Read more »

Baroche on the banks of Nerbudda in Guzerat

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, company officials and professional artists played an important role in collecting and disseminating knowledge about India – an activity central to British imperialism. The discovery and definition of vegetation and fauna helped the Company’s mission of exploiting lucrative raw materials and furthering scientific research. Sketching was a quick and… Read more »

Surat on the Banks of the Tappee

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, company officials and professional artists played an important role in collecting and disseminating knowledge about India – an activity central to British imperialism. The discovery and definition of vegetation and fauna helped the Company’s mission of exploiting lucrative raw materials and furthering scientific research. Sketching was a quick and… Read more »

Charge of HM 14th Light Dragoons at the Battle of Ramnuggur

The Battle of Ramnagar which took place between British and Sikh forces during the 2nd Sikh War (1848-1849) incurred great losses for the British. Fought on the banks of the river Chenab in Punjab on 22 November 1848, the battle had resulted in an unambiguous victory for the Sikh forces. Yet, this engraving which depicts… Read more »

Storming of Seringapatanam (triptych)

A mezzotint engraving produced by John Vendramini, this triptych illustrates three episodes from the final victory of the British over the Mysore state during the 4th Anglo-Mysore War (1798-99). Spanning nine feet across, it was created after a painting by Sir Robert Ker Porter, one of the first artists to depict this landmark episode in… Read more »

India (Northern Part)

This map titled ‘India (northern Part)’ highlights the northern divisions of territory into presidencies and native states. The Bengal Presidency is marked in red including the lieutenant-governorships of the North-West provinces, Oudh, Punjab and Central Provinces; Bombay Presidency is marked in green, Madras in Yellow and native states in orange. After significant territorial acquisitions were… Read more »

Bengal

This map by Dutch publisher Pieter van der Aa is from his book, Royaumma de Grand Mogol, published in Paris in 1729. It is based on William Baffin’s map, ‘INDOISTANI A Description of East India, conteyninge th’ Empire of The Great Mogoll,’ that was published in 1619. Baffin’s map was the first modern map of… Read more »

Northern India including the Presidency of Calcutta

This is a decorative, mid-19th century map of Northern India drawn and engraved by J. Rapkin (vignettes by A. H. Wray & J. H. Kernot) and published in John Tallis’s Illustrated Atlas (London & New York: John Tallis & co, c.1851). The Illustrated Atlas, published from 1849 to 1853, was the last decorative world atlas.… Read more »

Carte Du Bengale (Map of Bengal)

This map, Carte Du Bengale, is attributed to Arkstée & Merkus, but it is based on a map by French geographer Loui Brion de la Tour, who also made the Atlas Géneral, Civil et Ecclésiastique’, 1766, and ‘Atlas Général’, 1790-98. The eighteenth century was a time of conflict between the English and French in both… Read more »

Who pulls the strings in Gulabo Sitabo?

I am desperately late to the Gulabo Sitabo Netflix watch party (or Amazon in this case), but in my defence it was catching virtual dust while sitting at the very top of my watchlist and this is just how movie screenings and time work now. How ironic it is that this film was released in… Read more »

Plan of the Siege-Works, June to September 1857

As the title suggests, this map is a plan of the siege of 1857 and was printed after the British recapture of Delhi, on 22nd September, 1857. This map shows Shahjahanabad prominently and precisely points to various battalions and batteries by their placement and their respective commands. The position of the British camp and the… Read more »

Map of India, 1857

This map of India probably first appeared in The Illustrated London News in 1857. While some of the magazine’s illustrations were provided by artist-travellers or proprietors, others were contributed by men stationed abroad with specific designations, such as soldiers, naval officers and government officials on foreign stations. They became sources for visual information on India’s… Read more »

The mythical origins of shadow puppets

Made in China, made in India, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, or even Turkey, the tradition of shadow puppets has survived for a long time, the second century BC, some say. But as is also custom, scholars have many disagreements on its origins. Folklorist Stuart Blackburn suggests that this tradition, like Buddhism, travelled to the rest of… Read more »

The man behind History Men

In this interview with the author of ‘History Men’ TCA Raghavan, we talk about the ways in which history has been written, understood and shaped in the Subcontinent