Indian History Carnival – 56: The 19th century

  1. The Royal Asiatic Society Blog has few images depicting the nine avatars of Vishnu which are from 19th century Rajasthan.
  2. What is the connection between Swati Tirunal, Irvivarman Thampi, Sugandhavalli ,Vadivelu, Bharatnatyam, and Mohinitattam? In a fascinating post Maddy explains
  3. The work carried out by the quartet on Bharata Natyam encouraged the young king Swati Tirunal, who now wanted Vadivelu to work on the extant but unpopular form of Mohiniattam in Kerala. Together they crafted a revival and able support was provided by two more people, Uncle Iravivarman Thampi and a lovely dusky toned dancer. I will not get into the details of Swati Tirunal and his life, but suffices to say that here was a well educated and willing student, waiting for new teachers and new ideas. The dancers knew how to convert the ideas into movements. The king however was a man in a hurry, probably he knew he had only some more years left in his life and so he wanted to experience it all, the role of a ruler, the beauty of dance and the woman’s sensuous role in it as well as the woman herself, fighting the infighting in the large royal family and keeping the colonial rulers and administrators at bay. Was there time for love in his life?

  4. Did a tsunami hit Calicut in 1847? CHF investigates
  5. Further south the waves damaged the mouth of the Kotta (Moorad, Vatakara) river and destroyed the Palliyad dam and the cultivation above it over two miles from the mouth of the river. The floods from inland breached the new work on the Conolly canal at Calicut. At Parappanangadi and Tanur private persons suffered much loss from the sudden rise of the sea. The tsunami altered the topography permanently in Chavakkad, where, Logan records, the sea forced a new and deep opening into the Chavakkad backwater and broke with much strength on the Ennamakkal dam…. The description leaves no room to doubt that it was indeed a tsunami . Considering the lack of proper communication those days, it is likely that the damage – particularly in terms of loss of lives and destruction of property – was much more widespread but was not properly documented.

  6. Parag Tope’s Operation Red Lotus has a section which describes why English East India Company should be considered as a drug cartel due to the fact that they cultivated and exported opium from India to China. Another good book which goes into the details of this trade is Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. Ptak Science Books has a post which shows some images from the 29 July 1882 issue of the Scientific American which shows the magnitude of this business.
  7. They are iconic images of a devastating trade and were frequently reproduced over many decades–mostly not for the “devastating” part of what I just wrote, but more for the industrial/business appreciation end, as was the case with this article in SciAmerican. The British interest in the trade stretched back two cneturies earlier, and of course the use of opium bends far back into Neolithic times. Sherill’s scenes are all from the opium receiving/production/distribution center in Patna, India, which claimed to produce some 13,000,000 pounds of opium juice annually, shipping the stuff out to Bengal and then on to China.

  8. In the June 2010 issue of Pragati, I wrote about the ice trade between United States and India. In this post, Sriram writes about the ice factories of Chennai.
  9. The Madras Ice Company was floated in 1865, with CA Ainslie of Binny, John Charles Loch of Parry and the legendary lawyer John Bruce Norton as its Directors. Despite its high profile origin it was a non-starter. By the 1870s, the Royal Navy showed that ice could be made using what was called the steam process. The International Ice Company was established in Madras in 1874. Nothing much is known about it, beyond the fact that it killed the American import.

The carnival is expected to be on schedule from September onwards. Also there is a possibility that blogging might resume once again after a break of few months. The next carnival will be up on Sept 15th. Send your nominations to @gmail. Thanks to Sandeep V and Feanor.

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