Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rare books throw light on vintage Madras

Two hundred years after it was written, the beguiling clarity of the Tamil script on yellowed pages is perhaps testimony to the quality of ink used in 1896. A Collection of Official Documents in Tamil Language', a compilation of handwritten papers used in the Courts of Law, by Lieutanent W F Wright, is one of the rare books currently on display at the Connemara Public Library.

Organised as a two-day event beginning on Friday, April 23, to mark World Book Day', these books offer vivid glimpses into the times of the Madras Presidency going as far back as the 17th Century. Though the books appear homogenous from the outside with their grey binding, the small details you come across as you leaf through them are sure to keep the visitors hooked.

For instance, a quick reading of A Narrative of the Celebration of the Jubilee of Queen Victoria', compiled by Sir Charles Lawson in 1887, shows that the casing which used to hold the scroll containing the Madras Presidencial Address' was manufactured by P.ORR & Sons, a household name today. The books stand testimony to the the painstaking attention to detail adopted by the British while documenting an event and also illustrates the opulence that pervaded in those times. The scroll is described as being encased in a cylindrical casket, held aloft by a caparisoned elephant with a "finely modelled mahout" by its side, both standing upon a silver case mounted on a slab of Malabar Rosewood, 17 inches long.

Full report here Times of India 

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