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The Archaic and the Exotic: Studies in the History of Indian Astronomical Instruments

 
Sreeramula Rajeswara Sarma (Author)
Synopsis The fifteen papers collected in this volume are related to the author's investigations into the history of astronomical instruments in India. This history, so far untouched by others, is dominated by two currents: on the one hand the resilience of certain archaic instruments that held sway for long, on the other the receptivity of Indian astronomers towards exotic instruments from other cultures. Hence the title: The Archaic and the Exotic.

The first part of the volume seeks to define the context in which the author's studies on Indian instruments are undertaken and emphasizes the need for a combined study of Sanskrit astronomical texts and the extant instruments, besides pictorial depictions of instruments, notably in Mughal miniature paintings.

The astrolabe and the celestial globe are the exotic instruments received enthusiastically in India from the Islamic World. The five papers in part III deal with the history of the astrolabe in India: its promotion by Firuz Shah Tughluq, the dominant role played in its production by a family of instrument makers from Lahore under the patronage of the Mughal rulers, Sanskrit manuals composed on it, and certain individual specimens of Indo-Persian and Sanskrit astrolabes.

The last two papers, comprising part IV, deal with the history of the celestial globe in India and the globes crafted by two seventeenth-century instrument makers.
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About the author

Sreeramula Rajeswara Sarma

Sreeramula Rajeswara Sarma, formerly Professor of Sanskrit at Aligarh Muslim University, wrote extensively on history of science in India. Born in Andhra Pradesh in 1937, he studied Sanskrit at Santiniketan and Indology in Germany, where he earned his Ph.D. from Philipps Universitat, Marburg, for his thesis on a tenth century Sanskrit astronomical text. He has been a fellow of the German Academic Exchange Service at the universities of Marburg and Frankfurt; visiting associate professor at Brown University, Providence; visiting professor at the Universite de Paris III and at Kyoto University. For over a decade he has been surveying Indian astronomical and time-measuring instruments presented in India and abroad. He visited more than seventy-five museums and private collections in India, Belgium Germany. France, the Netherlands, UK and USA and identified some 400 Indian instruments. A descriptive catalogue of these instruments is in preparation.

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Bibliographic information

Title The Archaic and the Exotic: Studies in the History of Indian Astronomical Instruments
Format Hardcover
Date published: 31.12.2008
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 8173045712, 9788173045714
length 319p., Tables; Figures; Bibliography; Index; 23cm.