A Collection of Two Hundred and Fifty Coloured Etchings Descriptive of the Manners, Customs and Dresses of the Hindoos
Two Hundred and Fifty
THE MANNERS, CUSTOMS AND
DRESSES OF THE HINDOOS
IT may be deemed necessary, that I should preface the following Work, with some account of the design of the accompanying publication of Engravings.
The work was undertaken under the Idea, that a delineation from Nature of such objects in Hindoostan, as are interesting from their beauty or novelty to an European, or any way elucidatory of the habits, manners, and features of the various tribes, which inhabit the country, would be acceptable to the public, and that it would be particularly interesting to those, who had resided many years in India—as a help to them, on their retreat to their native country,—to recall to their recollection, occurrences of their youth, and scenes formerly familiar to them; at the same time that it would serve to illustrate to their friends in Europe, their observations and descriptions of the character, customs and manners, the persons, and dresses, of the inhabitants of Hindostan, their implements of husbandry, manufacture, and war—their modes of conveyance by land and water—the various sectaries of religion with their peculiar ceremonies, and the appearance of the face of the country.
With these hopes I formed my plan, and conceive, that a linear representation will be desirable, to convey an idea of those subjects relative to the country, which can hardly be described by any other means.
As, in the present race of the Hindoos, we see, perhaps with little change, the customs, features and character—the religious mysteries, and public amusements of their ancestors at an age, when the inhabitants of few other parts of the globe, were in a state of civilization, (their attachment to their ancient religion having preserved to them their primitive manners, amidst the influence of commerce with foreigners, and the fanatic tyranny of their Mahometan conquerors; a faithful representation of them cannot but be acceptable to every enquiring mind.
The valuable discoveries made, through the acquisition of the Shanscrit language by Europeans, of the allegorical and enigmatical language of the Religion, and concerning the Arts, Sciences, and History of this ancient people, cannot but excite the curiosity of all Europe—the myhthology has been proved to be the same, as that of the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans—and its trivial and frivolous rites, the external of moral and political institutions, introduced under the character of sanctity, to render their observance more certain and easy; as the mysterious ceremonies of their religion, are discovered to be enveloped in darkness, purposely to elude discovery and to chain superstition and fanaticism.
The following Descriptions contain little more than the names of the objects represented in the plates.
Should the Work excite a desire for an acquaintance with the symbolical Mythology of the Hindoos, I presume a better source of information cannot be referred to, than the transactions of the Asiatic Society, and the translates and writings on the subjects, by the late Sir William Jones, and Mr. Charles Wilkins.