Hindu superiority: An Attempt to Determine the Position of the Hindu Race in the Scale of Nations By Har Bilas Sarda, B. A., F. R. S. L



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III.—OTHER ARTS.


Art is long and time is fleeting.

-LONGFELLOW.

Professor Weber says: “The skill of the Indians in the production of delicate woven fabrics, in the mixing of colours, the working of metals and precious stones, the preparation of essences and in all manner of technical arts, has from early times enjoyed a world-wide celebrity.”18

Professor Wilson says: “They had acquired remarkable proficiency in many of the ornamental and useful arts of life,’

As regards dyeing, Mr. Elphinstone, says: “The brilliancy and permanence of many of the dyes, have not yet been equalled in Europe.” He adds: “The brilliancy of their dyes is remarked on as well as their skill in manufactures and imitations of foreign objects.4

Dr. Tennet and even Mr. James Mill admit that the Indian colours are the most brilliant on earth. The Hindus were the earliest nation who discovered the art of extracting colours from plants. The names by which several plants are known in foreign countries bear testimony to this fact. Indigo is so called after India. Pliny’ used to write indico.5



2 Mill’s History of India, Vol. II, p. 233.

3 History of India, p,164.

4 History of India, p. 243. See Strabo, lib. xv, p. 493.

5He says: “Cast the right indico upon the live coals, it yieldeth a flame of most excellent purple.”—Manning’s Ancient and Medi teval India, Vol, II, p. 355.

Bancroft gives much praise to the “ natives of India for having so many thousand years ago discovered means by which the colourable matter of the plants might be extracted, exygenated and precipitated from all other matters combined with it.” Even Mill is constrained to say: “Among the arts of the Hindus, that of printing and dyeing their cloths has been celebrated; and the beauty and brilliancy, as well as durability of the colours they produce, are worthy Of particular praise.”‘

Mr. Elphinstone says: “The taste for minute ornaments fitted them to excel in goldsmith’s work.”2

Professor Heeren says: “The art of working in ivory must have attained a high degree of perfection.”

What is most remarkable, however, is the simplicity of their processes and the exceedingly small number of the instruments with which they work. Stavorinus writes: “Their artificers work with so little apparatus and so few instruments, that an European would be astonished at their neatness and expedition.”3

As regards painting, Mr. Mill says: “The Hindus copy with great exactness, even from nature They draw portraits both of individuals and of groups with a minute likeness.”



Mill’s India, Vol. II, p. 21. “ In some of the more delicate manufactures, however,” says Mill, “particularly in weaving, spinning, and dyeing, the Hindus rival all nations as in the fabrication of trinkets too:” Professor Heeren says: “The dress of the Hindus seemed extraordinarily white to the Greeks.”—Historical Researches, Vol. II, p. 272.

2 Elphinstone’s History of India p . 164. “ The Hindus cut the precious stones, polish them to a high degree of brilliancy and set them neatly in gold and silver.”—Mill’s Ilistory of India, Vol. II, p. 30.

3Stay.orifius’ Voyage; p. 412. Foster was astonished to see. their instruments and their simple processes.—Asiatic Researches, Vol. II, p. 272.

A s regards iron manufactures, Professor Wilson says: “Casting iron is an art that is practised in this manufacturing country (England) only within a few years. The Hindus have the art of smelting iron, of welding it, and of making steel, and have had these arts from times immemorial.”‘

Dr. Ray says: “Coming to comparatively later times, we find that the Indians were noted for their skill in the tempering of steel. The blades of Damascus were held in high esteem, but it was from India that the Persians, and, through _ them, the Arabs learnt the sec-ie-t of the operation. The wrought-iron pillar clok to the Kutub, near Delhi, which weighs ten tons and is some 1,500 years old, the huge iron girders at Puri,

the ornamental gates of Somnath, and the 24-feet wrought-iron gun at Nurvar, are monuments of a bye-gone art, and bear silent but eloquent testimony to the marvellous metallurgica,1 skill attar ed by the Hindus.”‘ Regarding the Kutub pillar, usson says :

has not, however, been yet correctly ascertained what its age really is. There is an inscription upon it, but without a date. From the form of its alphabet, Prinsep ascribed it to the third or fourth century.” Mr. Fergus-son continues: “Taking A.D. 400 as a mean date—and it certainly is not far from the truth—it opens our eye to an unsuspected state of affairs, to find the Hindus at that acre callable of forging a bar of iron larger n —er thaanythathave beenT&orgedeVen. inirta;iie up to a very late date, and not frequently even now. As we find them, however, a few centuries afterwards using bars as long as this lat in roofing the porch of the

history of ludia, Vol, 11, p. 47.

temple at Kanaruc, we must now believe that they were much more familiar with the use of this metal than they afterwards became. It is altnost equally startling to ti dthat after an _nre_towindos and ram for fourteeti centuries it s_is unrusted, and the capitaland... inscription_are as clear. and as sharp now as when put up fourteen centuries ago. There is no mistake about the pillar being of pure iron. General Cunningham had a bit of it analysed in India by Dr. Murray, and another portion was analysed in the School of Mines here by Dr. Percy. Both found it pure malleable iron without any alloy.”1

Mrs. Manning says: “The superior quality of Hindu steel has long been known, and it is worthy of record that the celebrated Damascus blades, have been traced to the workshops of Western India.” She adds: “Steel manufactured in Cutch enjoys at the present day a reputation not inferior to that of the steel made at Glasgow and Sheffield.”2 Mrs. Manning also says: “It seems probable that ancient India possessed iron more than sufEcient for her wants, and that the Phcenicians fetched iron with other merchandise from India.”‘

Dr. Royle is of opinion that the .system of rotation. of crops has been derived from India, The Hindu farmer understands extremely well how to maintain the productive power of his land.’ ---- -

ro essor Wilson says: “The use of glass for iv-inows is a proof of civilization that neither Greek nor oman refinement presents.”‘

s ory of Indian and Eastern Architecture, p. 508; ed. 1899. Ancient and MediEeval India, Vol. II, p. 365..

3Ancient and Medimval India, Vol. II, p..364. See “Commerce,” 4Dr. Roxburgh fully approves of the Hindu system of agriculture, Sir T. Munro calls it “ a good system.”

5 Mill’s India, Vol. II, p. 16.

Dr. Forbes Watson says: “The study of Indian art might in numberless ways improve the character of the everyday articles around us (Englishmen).”

Chamber’s Encycloptedia says: “In manufacture, the Hindoos attained to a marvellous perfection at a very early period, and the Courts of Imperial Rome glittered with gold and silver brocades of Delhi. The muslins of Dacca were famous ages ago throughout the civilized world. In the International Exhibition of 1852, splendid specimens of gorgeous manufactures and the patient industry of the Hindoos were displayed. Textile fabrics of inimitable fineness, tapestry glittering with gems, rich embroideries and brocades, carpets wonderful for the exquisite harmony of colour, enamel of the most brilliant hue, inlaid wares that require high magnifying power to reveal their minuteness, furniture most elaborately carved, swords of curious forms and excellent temper are amongst the objects that prove the perfection of art in India.”2

1 During his Viceroylty, Lord Dufferin once said: “The West has still much to learn from the East in matters of dress.” Of the much-despised. dhoti, Mrs. Manning says; - Any dress more perfectly convenient to walk, to sit, to lie in, it would be impossible to invent.”—Ancient and Illediceval India, Vol. II, p. 358.

2 Chamber’s Encyclopmdia, p. 543.

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