Bibliotheca Asiatica is a series of reprints and some translations of books, both historic and recent past, containing first-hand descriptions and narratives by travellers in Asia, as well as research monographs and studies related to a wide range of aspects of Asian culture. Classified by country; this series includes a consolidation of the contents of the former series Bibliotheca Orientalis and Itineraria Asiatica.
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||An Illustrated Handbook of Indian Arms
And those of Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Malaya
by Wilbrahim Egerton
1880, 1981, 1986. vii, 162 pp., 2 col. pl., 35 b/w pl., 1 col. map, 26 x 19 cm., softbound.
ISBN-10: 974-8299-62-7 $23.00
Small quantity remaining with some spine fading.
The author intended that this book be one of a series devoted to descriptions
of artefacts in several sections of the India Museum. Unfortunately, even
before it was published, the break up of the India Museum was announced.
Nevertheless, the work remains one the few comprehensive studies of pre-European
arms used not only in India, but nearby countries. By the mid-19th century,
the use of many traditional weapons had become obsolete, with the gradual
adoption of European arms and the cessation of regional conflicts within
the subcontinent. As a result, much of the old weaponry fell into disuse,
and was abandoned or melted down. It was only in collections such as that
of the India Museum, and several others in England and Russia (to which
the author had access) that examples of past military artefacts were retained.
Egerton’s inventory, then, was timely. The book opens with an overview of
the military history of India which incorporates discussion of weaponry
employed. This is followed by a descriptive catalogue of Indian arms, with
introductory notes on styles of decoration, processes of manufacture, and
ethnological characteristics. The book is enriched with finely-drawn illustrations
of weapons and their intricate decoration, including two colour plates.
Although most of the examples discussed were housed in the India Museum,
Edgerton also describes (with illustrations) artefacts from other collections,
including those at the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and the fine
Russian Zarkoe Selo collection.