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Pursuing the History of Indian Technology: Pre-Modern Modes of Transmission of Power Author(s): Irfan Habib Reviewed work(s): Source: Social Scientist, Vol. 20, No. 3/4 (Mar. - Apr., 1992), pp. 1-22 Published by: Social Scientist Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3517685 . Accessed: 10/04/2012 11:59
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Pursuing the History of Indian Technology** Pre-modern Modes of Transmissionof Power
When the practitioner of an ancient craft like me is honoured by an invitation to address an audience at the 1.I.T., the best I can do is to speak on a field where my discipline can claim some proximity with the the principal concern of the hosts. And this explains my choice of the theme today, viz., the history of technology. Compared to the long history of History, going back to Herodotus and Sima Qian, the history of technology is fairly young. In 1867 Marx was still protesting that there was no critical history of technology of the eighteenth century, even though 'technology discloses man's mode of dealing with Nature, the process of production by which he sustains life, and thereby also lays bare the mode of formation of his social relations, and of the mental conception that flow from them'.l But within this century there has been an accelerating interest in the field. Marc Bloch made it part of the comprehensive history that was his ideal.2 The larger outlines of the history of European technology have been reconstructed by Usher, Singer, and Forbes, and, with very provocative insights and speculations, by Lynn White Jr., among others.3 There has been the towering figure too of Joseph Needham, closely scrutinising the scientific and technological achievements of China and setting them by the side of developments all over the world.4 In comparison, work on the history of technology in India began late and slowly. P.K. Code here was a true pioneer. His artless style concealed a critical and objective mind, and his queries and discoveries ranged over the history of the most ordinary, and, therefore, the most important things of life.5 In the last twenty years or so the interest has greatly increased; and I am happy to find that I have not been alone in publishing papers on various aspects or phases of pre-modern Indian technology. One rather embarrassing lesson that I have drawn from this experience is that speculations are as necessary as they are risky. Our information, scrappy as it often is, tends to be suddenly enlarged in a radical fashion with the tracing of one passage or another in a text,
Centre of Advanced Study in History, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. The RajivBambawaleMemorial Lecture, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi. SocialScientist,Vol. 20, Nos. 3-4, March-April 1992.
thereby making much of the earlier data or inferences obsolete. Nevertheless we have gathered sufficient evidence to at least raise precise questions about the pace of innovation and diffusion of certain crucial technological devices.
In the history of technology one moves with time from the simple to the complex. As archaeologists study the evolution of stone tools from the paleolithic to neolithic stages, they see progress essentially in terms of a proliferation of specialised types. Since in the present lecture I should like to confine myself to the modes of the harnessing and transmission of power, it is really from the late neolithic period, some seven thousand years ago, that our story begins. Human understanding of some of the elementary technological principles has often come exceedingly slowly. The wheel, such an important element in our technology, was not discovered by the Amcrindian portion of mankind, although they could build cities and monuments of a size that we must still admire. The initial rotary motion that led to the wheel came with the making of pottery, and with the discovery that its shape could be made more symmetrical through shaping the wet clay by hand through half rotations.6 From here the next step was the horizontal potter's wheel, a stage reached before B.C. 4000 at a chalcolithic community at Mehrgarh in the Kachhi plain below Quetta in Pakistan.7 With the finds at this site South Asia can claim precedence over Mesopotamia and Egypt in the use of wheel-turned pottery.8 But the potter's wheel did not lead to the vertical wheel or cart-wheel, which was necessarily perhaps the much more crucial invention. So far as our present evidence goes, this had to wait till the Indus culture, a thousand or more years later (B.C. 2800-.800, set by calibrated radio-carbon dates). Here miniature clay representations and traces of cart-ruts announce the arrival of the bullock-cart.9 The cart itself was very possibly a Mesopotamian invention, since evidence for the 'wagon' on solid wheels in Iraq goes back to the fourth millennium. B.C.10 The yoking of the ox to the cart should have raised immediately the question why it was not already yoked to the hoe so as to produce the plough. In Egypt the plough had, indeed, preceded the cart. And yet Kosambi strongly countered any suggestion that the plough could have been in use in Indus culture;11 and Gordon, while theorising on its presence, did not surprisingly make use of the argument that once animal traction was in use, the plough could not have been absent.12 The matter was settled with B.B. Lal's important discovery of the furrowed field below Indus levels at Kalibangan in Rajasthan;13 and it has now been confirmed with the finding of toy clay ploughs at Banavali (Haryana).14 It may be marked that the Indian ox with its
THE HI-ISTORY INDIAN TECI-NOLOGY 3 PURSUING OF
hump is especially suited for drawing weights, without any need for specialised yoke or harness. The ox-plough in turn revolutionised agriculture; and this can be seen from the long list of crops known to be grown within the Indus culture area-wheat, barley, ragi, millet, rice, and, above all, cotton. While the coming of the cart and plough indicate the introduction of two important technological innovations, the absence of the bronze shaft-hole axe in use in contemporary Mesopotamia has been treated as an early example of 'the inherent conservatism of the Indian culture.'15 Once the blade of the axe is given a hole to accept the shaft of the handle, its efficiency as a cutting tool is greatly magnified. And yet the shaft-hole axe only appears at Mohenjodaro and Chanhudaro in the post-Indus Jhukhar culture levels, c. B.C. 1500, and at Shahi Tump in Baluchistan at about the same date.16 Bronze shaft-hole axes are also found at Mundigak in Afghanistan at about the same period.17 It is singular however that the device did not extend eastwards beyond Sind and Afghanistan to any bronze or copper culture in India. Its first occurrence in the Gangetic basin is only with the appearance of iron; the iron shaft-hole axe is here first documented at Noh B.C.c.800. Its subsequent diffusion into peninsular India was slow, and with a variation: here iron cross-bands helped to attach the blade to the handle, instead of a true shaft-hole.18 In considering such obstructed diffusion, especially when peasant communities had still to clear the monsoon forests of the Gangetic basin and the Deccan valleys, we can only hazard guesses, since we are not convinced of an 'inherent conservatism' in our culture. Did the Aryans take the shaft-hole axe with them wherever they went, first in bronze (Jhukhar culture) and then in iron (Painted Grew Ware)? And had there then to be a forcible overthrow of one society by another to introduce a new product of the copper and iron-smiths? II How political and military intrusions could become the focal points of technological diffulsion is illustrated by the next phase of changes we would be studying. Alexander's conquest of Afghanistan and Northwest India (B.C. 327-24) made Gandhara, with its celebrated capital Taxila, almost a part of the Hellenistic world. Archaeological finds at Taxila have indicated two important new mechanical devices which India seems to have obtained from the Mediterranean world. Shears, or their smaller version, scissors, are an effective cutting device with the minimal use of muscular power. The Sanskrit term for them, kartari, does not seem to go beyond the treatises of Charaka and Susruta, whose texts were written not earlier than the second century A.D. and probably much later.19 From stratum I of Sirkap, Taxila, assigned to the first century A.D., have come the remains of a 'handle
and part of one blade of (a) pair of scissors.'20Marshall cites Flinders Peters for the statement that scissors came into use in the GraccoRoman world about first century A.D.;and Needham seems to confirm this.21The earliest finds of scissors in China do not go beyond the Tang dynasty (7th-9th century); and it would appear therefore that scissors were really a Hellenistic invention, and that there was an eastward diffusion of this invention from which India and later China
The second invention, of more firmly established Hellenistic origins, was the rotary grain mill. So far grain seems to have been milled by use of mortar-and-pestle, or, what was obviously a development from it, the saddle quem, where there was a small stone rolled over a larger stone board.23Through developments, which we need not go into here, by the second century B.C. the Mediterranean world had developed a hand-driven mill, with two horizontal handles on each side of the upper stone by which a back-and-forth swinging motion was achieved.24 At Taxila in the Bhir mound, occupied down to B.C.c. 200 the mortar-and-pestlemill was in use; but at Sirkap, in stratum II, 'not earlier than first century A.D.,' was found the Mediterranean mill with two handles.25 The semi-rotary mill had thus arrived. The next development was for the mill to achieve full rotary nmotion:this would involve (a) substitution of one handle for the previous two, and (b) the transformation of the single handle from a horizontal peg to a vertical crank-handle. Lynn White cites an early example (126 A.D) from the Roman world, but in Marshall's second 'grinding mill' from Taxila (Kunala monastery, 5th century A.D.) we have a single vertical peg-hole, as shown clearly in the published
The short passage of time which elapsed between the appearances of the semi-rotary and rotary hand-mills in the Mediterranean world, and their respective appearances at Taxila confirm its continuing connexion with the Hellenistic world. For this connexion there is, of course, other ample evidence: the survival of the Greek language on Kushana coinage; the even longer survival of the Greek script as the transmitter of the Bactrian language; and the evolution of Gandhara art. On the other hand, Taxila was also an Indian town, a centre of Buddhism; and so from this gateway, the Hellenistic invention, the rotary quern, was passed on to be diffused in course of time to reach practically every Indian hut and home.27 Inherent in the developments in milling in the Mediterraneanworld was the evolution of a still more crucial device, the draw-bar. To us this looks so simple that it is hard for us to imagine why it should have taken our ancestorsso many centuries to convert the yoke designed for linear draught into the draw-bar for rotary motion. But centuries it
OF PURSUING THE HISTORY INDIAN TECHNOLOGY 5
did take, in the same way as resort to the crank had to be a very slow and difficult process in the antiquity and the early middle ages.8 It would seem that the draw-bar or the 'circular track' had come into extensive use by second century B.C. in the Mediterranean area.29 It could have had its origin in the oil mill where a transverse beam rotated on an iron pivot to drive two hemispherical stones in the milltrough, a device said to be as early as the 5th century B.C.30 The Hellenic beam developed into a draw-bar, when a donkey-driven rotating mill (molaasinaria) came into use in the 2nd century B.C.31 In China animal-driven rotary mills appeared, through a seemingly independent line of development, by the second century A.D.32 The draw-bar could have come to India from either of these two civilizations; but with Taxila, as an outpost of the Hellenistic world, and on the basis of its record with the hand-mills, one could suppose that it was the point of entry for the Mediterranean device. Although a draw-bar has not been documented from Taxila the Kunala monastery excavations unearthed two 5th century mills where the upper stone has a deep groove across its top in order to take a wooden beam, which must have projected on both sides.33 The mills are too small to need animal power but, even if the beam was manually pushed round and round, the similarity to the draw-bar would be very close. Once cattle could be made to move in a circular fashion, the results could be numerous. There would be the threshing with yoked oxen, moving in circles, to which Lallanji Gopal has found references in texts of the period 700-1200 A.D.34 Its use was also extended to oil-milling, the Indian oil-mill being analogous to the Hellenic, except that it adds a draw-bar for driving the circular stones in the trough by the use of animal power.:'5 But from the technological point of view, it was the use of draw-bar int mechanical appliances for sugar-milling and waterlift,' that are of the greatest interest. III The devices that we have studied until now were relatively simple and involved little more than a direct, economical transmission of power. It is very likely that until the beginning of the Christian era, and possibly until much later, nothing more was achieved. It was only with forms of gearing and with belt and fly-wheel that the operator could alter the direction and speed of motion; and these devices took a long time to arrive and spread. India's own contribution to forms of gearing is the invention of the worm or screw-gear. In this a roller with circling grooves over its surface meshes with another, the convex bands of the first fitting in to the concave bands of the other in the manner of an endless screw. If one roller is then made to move, the other must move in the opposite
direction, a result which would also be achieved if two rollers with smooth surfaces are tightly pressed against each other. The earliest device known to use worm-gearing of this sort is the Indian cotton-gin (Hindi, charkhi). Here two rollers are fitted at the top of a rectangular frame, one of them provided with a crank-handle. While the larger portion of the rollers have smooth surfaces, 'the perpetual screw' is carried on projections of the rollers outside the frame. By this means the handle turned roller imparts an opposite, corresponding movement to the other roller. Cotton is then fed into the rollers by hand to separate the fibre from the seeds.36 The fact that the gin reached Kampuchea (Cambodia), while its spread outside India has been otherwise limited, suggests a transmission well before 1000 A.D. by which year direct India-Cambodian contacts seem to have ceased.37 The earliest Indian evidence (6th century A.D.) for it comes from Ajanta. Here D. Schlingloff did well to identify a panel in Cave 1 as being concerned with various stages of cotton preparation.38 But what he thought to be the carding bow has been identified by Ishrat Alam as the cotton gin. It has the rectangular frame of that instrument; Schlingloff's 'two stings' at the top moreover are too thick to be strings and are really slender rollers.39 There is no crank handle; the woman operator moves the rollers by passing the fingers of her left hand over the top roller, while feeding in cotton with her right. Worm-gearing is not seen, either because the right side of the frame is not visible, or because the rollers moved simply by being pressed together. If the latter was the case, then the gin obtained both its crank-handle and the worm-gear wvithin the next four hundred years (6th to 10th centuries) before it travelled to Cambodia, armed with both of them. From cotton-gin the worm-gearing was adopted in sugar-milling. Nineteenth century English officials tell us much about the construction and geographical spread of the up-right wooden rollers, geared to each other by endless screws, the prime roller being rotated by a draw-bar pulled by oxen.40 It was in use practically all over peninsular and central India, though not in the Gangetic basin proper, where the much less efficient mortar-and-pestle mill also worked by oxen was employed.41 The earliest textual reference to the milling rollers is no earlier than 1695 when Careri saw them at Bassein, near Bombay: 'two great wooden Roulers, turn'd about by Oxen, when they ('Sugar Canes') came out thoroughly squeez'd.'42 This, however, tells us little of when the rollers first began to mill sugarcane. The coming of the draw-bar possibly in the early centuries of the Christian era and the invention of the worm-gear (in the cotton gin) by the tenth century provided the two pre-requisites for this device and it is thus probably a creation of late ancient India. In any case, it is a notable example of the transmission of a mechanical device from one craft to another. An important question is why worm-gearing remained so restricted in its geographical diffusion. Needham points out that with cotton-gin
PURSUINGTHE HISTORY INDIAN TECHNOLOGY 7 OF
found in Cambodia and Sinkiang, 'the screw (or rather, the worm-gear) principle was knocking at the door of the Chinese culture-area'; yet it was not adopted and the ginning rollers were moved by a complex method of moving one with a crank-handle and the other with a treadle.43 In Iran the cotton gin was given three horizontal rollers, the central driven by a crank-handle, the other two by friction with the central roller to which they are kept closely pressed by wedges in the bearing blocks.44 Worm-gearing is not found in any other traditional Iranian device, to judge from Wulff's comprehensive descriptions, and seems to have been absent in the Islamic world generally, as well as in medieval Europe. The rollers were therefore probably exported from India, but the worm-gear was left behind. That even in India its spread was inexplicably slow is illustrated by the nineteenth-century geography of the sugar milling devices. We have already seen that the Gangetic basin continued with the stone motar-and-pestle. Watt (1889-93) quotes an undated memorandum to the effect that the wooden rolling mill replaced the stone mills in Mewar only during the period of 'the British peace', that is, after 1819.45 It may be that this was partly because the far more expensive stone mills, once installed, were ever-lasting; partly because they required a smaller amount of animal power to work.46 But it could also be that the craft of carving endless screws on rollers could only spread slowly. This difficulty led to a different device being adopted in the Punjab. The rollers were kept, but the worm gear was replaced by complex right-angled gearing. In 1831 not far from Lahore Burnes saw sugar-cane juice being 'extracted by placing two wooden rollers horizontally on the top of each other, and setting them in motion by a pair of oxen.' He adds that the oxen 'turn a wheel which acts on two lesser ones placed vertically at right angles to it, and these communicate with the wooden rollers'.4 Here we have the same sugar mill which Napoleon's scientists saw in Egypt (1798-1801) and of which they have left an excellent drawing. As there figured, the ox rotates a large horizontal toothed wheel, which meshes with two smaller vertical toothed wheels on opposite sides below; these are on the same axles respectively as the two rollers placed one above the other, which would now rotate in opposite directions.48 The advantage with this application of conventional right-angled gearing was that the rollers could be horizontal and so squeeze a larger number of canes at the same time. It is, however, easy to see that if the rollers had been given an endless screw, only one smaller (lantern) wheel would have been sufficient, and the rollers could have been given identical speeds of motion. The absence of the worm-gear is thus again all too apparent.
IV So far as our evidence goes, ancient India lacked any kind of rightangled gearing, notably through toothed and lantern wheels. The only instance where this kind of gearing could have been envisioned was the chronometer described by Bhoja (eleventh century), where there are 'thirty probably ivory figures, or tooth-like pieces lying flat all along the circumference.'49 But like the original chronometer of the Hellenistic world, this was probably only an imaginary instrument; and the description in this case as in others does not make us confident that Bhoja was describing something which had actually been constructed.50 The position was different with the Mediterranean world. Vitruvius (c.27 B.C.) described a water-mill with vertical waterwheels rotating the horizontal mill-stone through right-angled gearing.51. But it was the use of this kind of gearing in a water-lifting contrivance that proved to be of much greater importance in the history of Asian technology. In 1960 there was discovered a wall-painting in Alexandria (Egypt) of late first century B.C. of signal historical value. Here are shown two oxen at each end of a beam tied to a pole serving as the axle of a horizontal wheel. The latter, placed under the floor, must be meshing with a vertical wheel which lifts water that then flows out of a masonry outlet. The vertical wheel does not carry any chain of pots and was therefore, so Schioler believes, of 'the compartmented rim' type.52 In course of time the water-lifting wheel lost its rim compartments and instead began to carry the chain, or potgarland. The earliest suggestion of the existence of this potgarland also comes from Egypt: at Fayum, a.265 B.C., were found a debris of potgarland jars in a dried up tank.53 Their remains become more common in late Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt With the potgarland we get the full-fledged device to which the term saqiya has been given by historians of technology. We know it in India as the Persian wheel and as rahat, arahat and variants of these words in Hindi and other Indian languages. Our own word rahat or arahat is from Sanskrit araghatta, Prakrit/Pali arahatta.54 The word ara meaning spoke and gatta or ghati meaning earthen pots, one can see that the word originally must have signified a wheel to whose spokes, presumably near the rim, pitchers were tied. This is the substance of the explanation of the Pali term arahatta in a late commentary.55 The words arahatta-gatiyanta, are those of Buddhagosha (fifth century) by which he sought to water-lift (which explain the word chakkavattakam wheel-using could also have meant a mere pulley-wheel and rope).56 The arahatta thus should then originally have meant what Usher called a noria;57 it would lift water from a level which could not be farther from the centre of the wheel than its radius, and therefore more suitable for use
OF NDIAN TECHNOLOGY 9 PURSUINGT IE HISTORY
on surface water. It could be used on a well only when it had obtained the chain of pots. Early references from two texts assigned to the fourth century suggest that the araghatta could now be set up over a well (kupa).58 The early dates assigned to the texts, however, are not beyond challenge.59 More definite is the evidence of the Mandasor inscription of Yasovarman, of the Malwa era 589 (= 532 A.D.), which was set up on a newly constructed well and which speaks of the well possessing 'the moving ring, resembling a garland (mala) of skulls', and surviving 'the discharge of nectar like pure water.'60 Barely a century later Bana in the Harshacharita (thankfully of a reliable date) offers equally explicit evidence of the potgarland: 'the beads of the rosary looked like the garland (mala) of the ghati-yantra (lit. 'contrivance of pots') for throwing up water out of the well.'61 The Indian evidence for the use of potgarland is therefore considerably posterior to the Mediterranean; and one is led to think that if here again we have an eastward transmission of the early centuries of the Christian era. Gandhara could again have played its part in the diffusion. 'Small pear-shaped vessels resembling the lotas fixed nowadays on Persian well-wheels' were found in large numbers on the earlier Bhir mound and in smaller numbers on Sirkap.62 These could have belonged to the earliest potgarlands in India. But Gandhara does not seem to have received, and imparted, rightangled gearing. The reason may be that the chain's own generalisation and difftlsion in Egypt and West Asia began at a time when contacts with India were drying up. The absence of gearing in the Indian waterwheels is proved not only by an absence of any reference to the gearwheels, but by the clear implication in our evidence that the wheels were manually worked. Clearly, a vertical wheel without gearing could not have been driven by animal power, which could only rotate horizontal wheels. Men were necessary to push the wheel by hand or foot. Thus the Tantrakhyavika, assigned by L. Gopal to c. 300 A.D., purusah, the man set to work the speaks of araghattavahah Bana in the passage already cited tells us that the araghatta.63 rosary like the gratiyantra was also turned by the right hand.64 The c. 950 A.D., speaks of the wheels of the Abhidhanaralna*nala, worked by the feet (padavartah).65 Kalhana ghatiyantra beirng 1149-50) classes work on water-wheels with that on handmills, as the ultimate in harsh or miserable work.66 A twelfth-century copper plate inscription from Rajasthan records the gifts of an araghatta along with two named persons (not oxen) working on it for the service of a temple.67 Finally, the Mandor freize, cited as evidence for the Persian wheel from Coomaraswamy's time onwards, and datable to the llth12th century, in fact shows a man pushing the wheel without gearing, and a camel drinking water flowing out of the pots.68
a single passage from the Against this entire evidence, Katha (906 A.D.) has been set forth in Upamitibhavaprapancha support of the view that the araghata was driven by oxen; but the long passage has no reference at all to the movement of the chain of pots, nor to any gearing; on the other hand, it speaks of water being lifted in two tumbis or gourds, which strongly suggests that here we have a description of the method of water-lift by bags or buckets drawn by rope over pulleys ty teanls of oxen moving down an inclined plane, and not of either the noria or the saqiya.69 If, then, the right-angled gearing had not arrived in India by about 1200, when did it reach us? Schioler's work has clarified some of the stages of the process. By about 250 A.D. the saqiya was in use in big estates in Egypt, and it then spread to Roman Syria.70 Thence it was inherited by the Arabs. Schioler quotes a passage from Ibn Sida (d. 1066) where under the name daulab the potgarland is described in detail, and is said to be turned by a camel, ox or donkey.71 Al-Jazari (c. 1206) not only applies right-angled gearing to his devices, but is so much aware of the geared saqiya that he deliberately designs a false one.72 A twelfth-century Baghdad miniature shows an ox-driven sccoop-wheel, where the use of gearing is implicit.73 The device was therefore now truly knocking at our gates. The Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526) was almost certainly the period where the apparatus established its domain over north-western India. It is, however, a little unsettling that despite much search no unambiguous references should so far have been located before the 16th century. The important late fourteenth-century text, Sirat-i Firuzshahi, comes closest with a reference to the wheel carrying the potgarland usmuri-i kuza-i dulab), but even this text lacks any mention either of gearing or of the use of animal power.74 It is, therefore, still Babur's Memoirs (1526-30) which contain the locus classicus for the geared Indian water-wheel. In Lahor, Dipalpur and Sahrind (Srihind) and territories thereabout they water their fields by the 'wheel' (charkh). They make circles of two long ropes, equal to the depth of the well, tie bits of wood between the two ropes and tie pitchers (kuza-ha) to the bits of wood. This (double-) rope, to which the pitchers have been tied, is thrown over the wheel that is set over the well. At the other end of the axle (tir) of this wheel they fix another wheel; and by the side of this (second) wheel; yet another wheel, whose axle is set vertically. When the ox moves this wheel, its (rim-less) spokes (par-ha) mesh with the spokes of the second wheel and so set moving the wheel carrying the pitchers. Where the water falls (from the pitchers) is set a trough (nav), to carry it wherever desired.75
PURSUINGTHE HISTORY INDIAN TECHNOLOGY 11 OF
Mughal miniatures from Akbar's reign amply illustrate the device.76 The only departure they show from Babur's description is that the horizontal wheel rotated by the oxen is always of the pin-drum kind, while the vertical wheel has teeth set at right angles on its rim. Are we to suppose that the rimless pokes served for the gearing of the wheels of the ordinary peasants, while in the imperial and aristocratic gardens the more sophisticated system prevailed? These water-wheels were indeed further improved at Akbar's court (1556-1605), and the right-angled gearing employed in complex ways: Such water-lifting mechanisms (daulabha) were made and wheels (gardun-ha) set up that from distant low places, water was brought to heights. With two oxen four wheels (charkh) were rotated, and with one ox two wheels drew water out of two wells, and a mill (asia) was also driven.77 Abul Fazl (1598) precedes these descriptions by a claim that Akbar constructed a cart which, as it moved and transported goods, also milled grain, clearly by means of geared wheels.78 Elsewhere he says it was so arranged that a single ox could clean sixteen musket barrels by rotating iron brushes.79 The A'in MSS supply a diagram to show the gearing.80 These imperial experiments with gearing had no long term consequences. It is worth some reflection that the use of right-angle gearing has remained confined to the Persian wheel, the only exception, already noticed, being the Punjab sugar-mill. In both instances the device was shared with the Islamic world, so that there was no specific Indian application of the principle either. V A simpler device than gearing by which the speed of rotation can be increased or reduced is that of the belt and fry-wheel. Lynn White pointed out that the spinning wheel is 'one of the first instances' of the application of this mechanical principle, and so must occupy a notable place in the history of machine design. tie found to his surprise that statements that the spinning wheel had originated in India were and he felt that it was a European undocumented;81 absolutely invention since there were no references to it in any part of the world before 1280, the approximate year of its appearance at Speyer.82 On the evidence received till now, Lynn White has been proved right about India; but not in respect of the primacy assigned to Europe. The crucial correction has come from China. There Needham found that multiple-spindle machines were already illustrated from A.D. 1313 onwards, and a rimless spinning wheel illustrated c. 1270.83 He argued that the Chinese spinning wheel, created upon the second intrusion of cotton into China, was a
12 SOCIAL SCIENTIST
development of the quilling wheel for silk, whose presence in China was illustrated about the middle of the thirteenth century, but which could go back, to judge by texts and reliefs, to the period first century B.C. to third century A.D.8 Recent researches by Chinese scholars trace the descriptions and depictions of a single-spindle spinning wheel to the period of the Western Han (B.C. 206-A.D. 24).85 With these early dates the quilling wheel itself could have emerged out of the spinning wheel, as was earlier thought.86 When did the spinning wheel spread out from China? One civilization which could obtain it through Central Asia was the Islamic. To judge from a recent work on the history of Islamic technology, there is a great scarcity of early textual references to the spinning wheel. The description found in ibn Mikawayh (d. 1030 A.D.) clearly refers to the quilling or reeling and not to the spinning wheel, while a miniature in a manuscript of 1237 does seem to show a girl operating the spinning wheel.87 Better assistance can perhaps be taken from Persian poetry. In Persian, the spinning wheel came to be called charkha, from charkha, or wheel. Anwari (d. 1152-3) spoke of Juhi, the jester breaking 'his mother's charkha out of envy', Nizami (d. 1991200) of 'the old woman rotating the charkha'; and Sa'di (1257) of 'the old woman cursing (the ruler) behind her charkha'.88 The evidence is not as explicity as one would wish; but the constant association of the charkha with women suggests that by the twelfth century the spinning wheel had arrived in the Iranian culture-area. Since in western Europe the quilling wheel is not documented before 1240 and the spinning wheel before 1280,89 it is almost certain that here the Islamic world, with earlier evidence of both instruments, served as the channel of transmission to Europe. How slow still the spinning wheel was in spreading within parts of Europe is shown by the fact of a Spanish official of Castile as late as 1558 wanting to use wheels instead of (hand) spindles, because they would produce four times as fast.90 The delay in the spinning wheel's arrival in India is harder to understand. When Marshall found an 'iron axle' with copper band attached in a fifth-century context at Taxila, he could be as much pardoned for thinking it belonged to a spinning wheel as respected for putting in a query.91 So far no passage from any ancient Indian text or any painting or sculpture has been seen or produced where a spinning wheel can be remotely suspected. In the eleventh and twelfth century texts which Mot; Chandra examined, we have the carding bow (pinjana), the spindle (tarkuh, kartanbhanda), but no wheel.92 In 1301-2, at Delhi, Amir Khusrau, giving council to his young daughter, insists on her remaining content with two things alone, the needle and spindle. He repeats this in three verses: the needle and spindle are her spear and arrow; so long as she does not spurn the needle and spindle, she will have wealth; it is not wise to abandon the needle and spindle, since they are instruments for hiding one's body.93 There is little doubt
OF PURSUINGTHE HISTORY INDIAN TECHNOLOGY 13
that Amri Khusrau had in mind working with the hand spindle, and not the wheel, which he nowhere refers to in his long discourse to his daughter. Had the spinning wheel come into use such insistence on the spindle would have been meaningless. But another poet, 'Isami (Daulatabad, 1350), writing nearly fifty years later, while protesting at Raziyya's presumption on becoming Sultan, though a woman, muses: Sovereignty does not suit a woman, since she is intrinsically of defective intelligence. That woman is better, who sits with her charkhaall the time; For a position of dignity would make her wanton. her Let cotton be her mate, the water-jar94 wine-cup, and the twang of the spindle her minstrel.95 The presence of the spinning-wheel is established by the direct mention of the wheel (charkha)while he is admonishing a woman to remain content with the life of a spinner. The reference to the twang (ghunna) of the spindle could conceivably be to the noise made by the whorl in the hand-spindle, but the reference would be more appropriate for the noise made by the spindle while rotating in its wooden bearings in the spinning wheel. To these two poets one feels truly grateful in spite of their unacceptably reactionary views on the place of woman: by their admonitions have enabled us to fix the generalisation of the spinning wheel at least in India in the first half of the 14th century. The first acceptance of the word charkhato mean spinning wheel that I have been able to trace in any lexicographic work occurs in the Miftahu-l Fuzala (Malwa, 1468-69), where charkh (wheel) carries among other meanings that of the wheel 'with which women spin yarn.'96 When the yam wound r3und the spindle is to be illustrated, the artist shows the spinning wheel as well; by now presumably spindles were fitted to the wheel as a matter of course.97 While the Miftahu-l-Fuzala gives us the first illustration of the spinning wheel in India, such illustrations proliferate in the Mughal period (late 16th century onwards),98 and attest the instrument's complete generalisation by that time. As Lynn White points out, the belt mechanism and fly-wheel are technologically of outstanding importance. For obtaining differential speeds of motion it is a far more elegant device than any form of gearing. One can see that accelerated speed of rotation by this means should have been of great service to drills and other cutting devices. Uptill now gem-cutting was achieved by rotating the drill by use of the bow string. Pressing the bowstring against the slender drill, the operator ran the string from one end of the bow to the other, then detaching it began again, so that the drill could go on rotating in one
14 SOCIAL SCIENTIST
direction at a considerable speed. The bow drill is traced to ancient Greece and early Egypt,99 and Mackay was prepared to interpret a copper or bronze piece unearthed at Mohenjo Daro as 'probably'a drill worked with the bow.100Whether this was as old in India as the Indus culture, we cannot say, but it was certainly very much in use c. 1468-69 A.D., when the artist of the Miftahu-l Fuzala left for us an accurate depiction of the instrument for drilling holes in pearls and corals.101 From early in Jahangir'sreign (1605-27) comes an excellent portrait of a diamond cutter at work with the same kind of bow-drill.102As late as 1665 Thevenot found it used to cut sapphires and diamonds in
It is, therefore, interesting to find that in the later half of the seventeenth century there had begun to be used a steel cutting wheel, rotated through belt-drive by a larger wooden wheel 'turned by four blacks', and therefore vertically set. Tavernier (in India during 164067) saw these mills for cutting diamonds at the Rammalakotta mines in Bijapur.104 Fryer in 1674 described a similar mill at Surat:It too was 'turned by men', had a belt drive ('string')from the larger to the lesser wheel, which was of steel and cut diamonds held 'in a flat press'.105 It is not certain where the inspiration for these mills came from. One would suppose that the belt-drive was imitated from the spinningwheel; but why was the imitation so late in coming? The true source may, then, lie elsewhere. In diamond-cutting, as Tavernier shows, there was a direct competition with European gem-cutters; and he tells us how the European mills were still superior to the Indian. The Indians' steel discs did not run as smoothly as the European iron discs; nor could they rotate as fast because their driving wheel, at a diameter of three feet, was too small.106 In Europe the prime wheel could be larger because it could be turned by water-power or, through gearing, by animal power. Otherwise the principles of the mechanism of the two mills viere identical.107Here at last, we may be witnessing one of the first influences of European technology that India received before its subjugation. VI Long though our description has been of successive additions to the inventory of technological equipment in India, we have been able to concern ourselves only with a few mechanical principles and their practical applications. Fragmentary as it has been, it may perhaps be said without much presumption that certain conclusions and questions ought to flow from it. One immediate conclusion that I would urge is the giving up of our tendency to suppose that anything which looks primitive to us today must have existed from 'time immemorial'. Gandhiji made the charkhathe symbol not only of swadeshi, but also of a revolt against
PURSUINGTIIE HISTORY INDIAN TECIINOLOGY 15 OF
the machine. And yet, as we have seen, the spinning wheel does not only embody an important principle of machine design, but in India at least is a fairly young arrival. The changes that we have studied are sufficient to justify scepticism against statements such as that premodern India did not produce 'any significant cost-reducing technological innovations.'108 Changes in technology have in fact been taking place all the time-only the pace is debatable. Conversely, the view adopted by even some professional historians that it is one's business to establish the maximum antiquity in one's country for every element of pre-modern technology (and many of the modern), is not likely to give us a true picture of ourselves. Not only is the aspiration to have a 'golden age' in our remote past when we knew everything, utterly unhistorical; it must necessarily rebound on its proponents' cause, for we would then have to say necessarily that, there having been nothing left for us to add or adopt, we have been stagnating ever since. Thirdly, we can see from our own limited survey that it is impossible to study the history of technology of a country (even as large as India) in isolation. More than any other aspect of history, that of the everyday things of life takes us across all kinds of geographical, religious and political frontiers. Needham has set us the model here: his volumes on China are also works on the history of world technology. All people have learnt from others-and that is tribute to the brotherhood of man. history's Once we can set the origins and diffusion of technological devices in geographical and chronological terms-at which a very rough and partial attempt has been made here-other questions follow, notably as to why the pace of diffusion is so uneven in different contemporary cultures and in different periods? Cipolla has suggested that in modern times the process of technological change has 'dramatically accelerated' because the resources of craftsmanship have been 'strengthened by the application of scientific principles developed by more or less professional scientists.109 Far be it from me to contest this, and that also at this seat of professional scientists. It is, however, worth pointing out that many technological developments took place directly in the crafts even in early modern Europe, and appeared in the technological descriptions of the learned much later. It is true nevertheless that in any culture the attitude of the educated to craft-technology must influence its progress. Ideology may thus after all matter. One misses in India even that curiosity which the Chinese literati and the Greek and Roman citizenry displayed in the techniques of the crafts. This does not only mean that our craft-history is so much less documented; it also means that diffusion through means of official or aristocratic support would have been on a minimal scale in pre-modern India.
16 SOCIAL SCIENTIST
A more substantive factor to be considered in respect of diffusion would be the economic one. Given the level of wages of the artisan or labourer would the labour saved justify the higher cost of the innovation? It can be argued that in a society where manual skills in specialised work were widely available and low costs of subsistence kept wages at low levels, the tendency to shift to labour-saving devices could be correspondingly weaker.110 There is however little reason to believe that since costs of subsistence tend to be higher in colder countries, inventions were bound to attract greater interest there. The great early inventions, the wheel, the plough and the cart, came from the tropical countries. One may perhaps therefore attach greater weight to the relative profusion of compensatory manual skills. Societies that excessively developed craft specializations could be slow in responding to inventions (e.g. pre-moder India); though, on the other hand, an absence or very great scarcity of such skilled labour may also result in an inability to accept mechanical improvements (e.g. central and south Africa). Excessive craft specialization in India was undoubtedly aided by the caste system, under which 'no one (aspires) after any improvement in the conditions cf life where he happens to be born.'ll M.D. Morris in a challenging paper, argued that there has been an over-stressing of Indian traditional caste-values as obstacles to economic growth;112 and it is possible that the caste system has adjusted to changing cricumstances by creating new caste-professions, allowing old professional castes to enlarge or restrict their occupations or ignore them altogether. It is however yet possible to suggest that while not absolutely preventing technological change, the major tendency of the caste system was towards preservation of older skills. None of these explanations could serve for all the cases of slowness of diffusion of technological devices and the rejection of others. A case may be made that military conquests in pre-modern times often led to of techniques. accelerated transmissions We have seen that Alexander's invasion opened the road for the passage of Mediterranean techniques to India. The Ghorian conquests around A.D. 1200 similarly helped to bring in the Persian wheel and the spinning wheel, besides othecrtechniques like paper manufacture, vaulting, and sericulture.113 Political history therefore was one of the important levers of technolcgical change; and, hurt though it may the national pride of many of us, it would seem that long periods of indigenous regimes in pre-modern times have by no means proved themselves best suited to technological improvement. But then we ought to remember that 'nation' is a modern concept, and we would ourselves be wrong in judging an earlier age by our present notions of citizenship and frontiers. I should like to close this lecture by pointing out that the history of technology, as a field, would prosper best by the closest possible
OF PURSUINGTI-IE HISTORY INDIAN TECHNOLOGY 17
cooperation of scientists and historians. That cooperation would be more crucial still in the study of the modern history of technology, where contrivances and chemicals become too complex for laymen to understand. On the other hand, the historian by providing a knowledge of the social, economic, political and ideological environment in which technological changes take place, may help to underline the fact that devices used in production are not mere scientific curiosities but have the result of enlarging both the power and the vision of man.
NOTESAND REFERENCES 1. KarlMarx, Ccpital,Vol. I, English transl. by Moore and Aveling, ed. F. Engels, London,1887,p. 367n. 2. See especially his essays in Land and Workin Medieval Europe,trans. J.E. Anderson, London,1967. 3. The major works are: A.P. Usher, A History of MechanicalInventions, (Ist 5 ed.al., ed. A Ihistoryof Technology, Vols., Oxford, 1945-58; R.J.Forbes, Studies in Ancient Technology, many volumes, Leiden, 1955- ;Lynn White Jr., Medieval and Social Change,Oxford, 1962. Technology 4. Science and Civilization in China, many Vols., Cambridge, 1954- . The published Vols.; include I, II, III, IV(1), (2) &(3), V(1), (2) & (4). 5. Iiis papers have been conveniently collected together in Studies in Indian CulturalIHistory, Vol. I (Iloshiarpur, 1961), II (Poona, 1960), & III (in 2 parts) (Poona,1969). 6. Cf. Jacquetta }lawkes, Ilistory of Mankind,I(1): Prehistory, UNESCO, New York,1965,pp. 403-4. 7. The latest analysis of the results of excavations at Mehrgarh and other Baluchistan sites I have accessed to is Jim G. Shaffer, 'The Archaeology of Baluchistan: A Review', Newsletterof BaluchistanStudies, Nappies & Rome, No. 3 (summer1986),pp. 63 ff., esp. pp. 69-70, 72. 8. For first use of wheel-turned pottery in these two regions see Sir Leonard Woolley, IIistory of Mankind,1(2) The Beginnings of Civilization, UNESCO, New York, 19',5,p. 289. Mehrgarhhad not been excavated till then. 9. For the toy carts found at Mohenjo Daro, see John Marshall,MohenjoDaro and the Indus Civi;ization, photo reprint, Delhi, 1973, I, PP. 39, 187. These are twowheeled, but terracota models of four-wheel carts have been found at Chunhodaro (Mortimer Wheeler, Indus Civilzation,Cambridge, 1960, pp. 6566). Excavationsat Harapparevealed cart-rutsshowing axle-lengths of 3 feet 6 inches (StuartPiggott, Prehistoric India,lIarmondsworth, 1950, p. 176). 10. Woolley, op.cit., p. 231. 11. D.D. Kosanlbi, An introduction the study of Indianhistory, Bomay, 1956, pp. to 63-67. 12. D.H. Gordon, The Prehistoric Background Indian Culture,2nd ed., 1960, pp. of 70-71. 13. Puratattva,IV (1970-71), pp. 1-3; Indian Archaeology, 1968-69, a Review,New Delhi, 1971, pp. 29-30 and plate XXXIV. 14. Indian Archaeology, 1983-84, a Review, p. 26 & plate 22. 15. Piggott, op. cit., pp. 198-9. 16. Ibid.,pp. 218-19, 224-25, 228. 17. Bridget and Raymond Allchin, Rise of Civilizationin India and Pakistan,New Delhi, 1983, p. 317.
18 SOCIAL SCIENTIST 18. Ibid., pp. 317, 335. The calibrated 14-carbon dates for iron at Noh set the beginning of the 'ironage' thereat B.C.c. 800. 19. Siddeshwar Varma'spersonal communicated for references to Katari,cited in P.K. Gode, Studies in Indian Cultural HIistory,I, pp. 179-80. Charka was reputed to be a physician of Kanishka(second century A.D.),but Keith suggests much later dates with ninth century as the floor-line (A.B. Keith, History of SanskritLiterature, London, 1920, pp. 506-8). 20. John Marshall, Taxila-an illustrated account of archaeologicalexcavations, Cambridge,1951,II,p. 555 21. Scienceand Civilizationin China, IV(2), p. 58. 22. Needham, ibid., denies this; but then he does not show awareness of the Taxila scissors. 23. Both types were found in the Indus civilization. See E.J.H. Mackay, Further excavations at MohenjoDaro,New Delhi, 1938, I, pp. 392-3, who observes correctly that the 'revolvingquern' could not be expected at that early date. and Social Change,pp. 107-108. 24. Lynn White Jr.,MedievalTechnology 25. Marshall, Taxila, II, pp. 485-87. Since Marshall was convinced that this mill (his no. 28) was a rotary mill, he thought the two handles meant two persons worked it. With a diameter of only 16.5 inches, this would be hardly credible. 26. Marshall, Taxila, II, p. 438, gives a description of this mill (no. 28), where he mentions the 'socket-holefor one handle only.' The photograph is in Vol. II on Plate 143 h, no. 128. Not having seen this photograph, Lynn White wondered 'when the vertical peg-handle reached India.' (Medieval Technology and Social Change,p.109 n.) 27. At least this was so by the 17th century: The Indian wives-grind their Coin with an Handmill when they sing, chat and are merry' John Fryer, A New Account of East India and Persia being Nine Years' Travels, 1672-81, ed. W. Crooke, II (London, 1912), p. 118. The earliest illustration I have seen is in Muhammad bin Daud Shadiabadi, Miftahu-l-Fuzala,British Library MS Or. 3299, f. 119a (s.v. dastas),with a woman working it. The work was written in 1468-69,and the MS was illustrated at probably the same time. 28. For the problem of the crank see Lynn White, MedievalTechnology and Social Change,pp. 103 ff. 29. Thorkild Schioler, Romanand Islamic Water-liftingWheels,Odense, 1973, p. 168. 30. Needham, Scienceand Civilizationin China, IV(2), pp. 202-3. 31. Ibid., pp. 187-192. The fact that animal driven rotary mill should appear earlier than the revolving hand-mill is surely due to no other reason than that without a vertical crank one could not have worked a fully rotating mill by hand; and the draw-bardid not necessarilylead to the crank. 32. Ibid., pp. 192-3. 33. Marshall, Taxila, II, p. 488 (descriptions of nos. 29 and 30). See Vol. III for photographs of no. 30 on Plate 143 e, f, g. Marshall'sreconstructionsin Vol. III, Plate 140, figs. m (no. 29) and s (no.30) need to be modified. There is no sanction for a vertical crank handle set on the beam, which must be elongated on both sides. 34. 'Techniqueof Agriculturein early medieval India (c.700-1200 A.D.)',University of Allahabad Studies,Ancient H1istory section, 1963-64, p. 56. 35. Cf. Needham, Scienceand Civilization in China, IV(2), p. 203. Exactly when the Indian oil-mill of this kind came into use remains obscure. 36. The earliest scientific description, with clear figure-drawing, is of 1801 in Francis Buchanan, A Journey fromMadrasthroughthe Countriesof Mysore,& c., London,1807,p. 317 and Plate XXVII (figure 74) on the opposite page. 37. See Needham, Scienceand Civilizationin China, IV(2), p. 122, for reference to the Cambodiangin.
PURSUINGTHE I-IISTORY INDIAN TECHNOLOGY 19 OF 38. 'Cotton Manufactures in India', Journalof Economicand Social History of the Orient,XVII(1)(1974),pp. 89-90. 39. 'Textile tools as depicted in Ajanta and Mughal paintings' in Aniruddha Ray and S.K. Bagchi, Technology Ancientand MedievalIndia, Delhi, 1968, p. 130, in and plate 29. 40. The earliest scientific description,of 1800,is again in Buchanan,op.cit., pp. 3412, where it is also figured (Fig.34 opposite p. 341). 41. See Irfan Habib, 'Technologyand Barriersto Technological Change in Mughal India', Indian [IistoricalReview,V. (1 2) (1978-79), pp. 155-58, with map on p. 157, for the geographicalspread of the two rival systems of sugar-milling before theircommon destruction modernironmills. by 42. The Indian Travelsof Thevenotand Careri,ed. S.N. Sen, New Delhi, 1949, p. 169. 43. Scienceand Civilizationin China, IV(2), pp. 122-24. 44. Hans Eric Wulff, The Traditional Craftsin Persia,Cambridge (Mass.), 1966, pp. 179-80. 45. George Watt, Dictionaryof the EconomicProductsof India, Calcutta, 1889-93, VI(2), pp. 207-8. 46. IIIR, V(1-2), p. 158. 47. Alexander Burnes, Travelsinto Bokhara, C., London, 1834 (Karachi photo & reprint,1973), I, p. 44. 48. Descriptionde I'Egypte ou Recueil des observationset de recherches ont ete qui faites en Egypte pendantI 'expenditionde I'armee Francaise, II (Paris, 1817), Arts et Metiers, Plate VII. 49. Analysis in V. Raghavan, Yantrasor MechanicalContrivances Ancient India, in 2nd ed., Bangalore,1956,p. 24. 50. Equally imaginary, perhaps, is Bhoja's reference to patasama-uchhraya,a contrivance to let down and raise water through 'bored columns' (ibid., p. 26), which Needham, Scienceand Civilizationin China, IV(2), p. 120, supposes to be an echo of the Archimedeanscrew. 51. Usher, History of Mechanical Inventions,pp. 168-9. For an explicit reference to right-angle gearing by Vitruvius see also Schioler, Romanand Islamic Waterlifting Wheels,, p. 168, who also says Heron (c. 60 A.D.) 'wrote fairly extensively or gears.' 52. Schioler, op. cit., pp. 152-3 (text) and fig. 108 on p. 152. The beam to which the oxen are yoked is, in fact, a double draw-bar.Comparethe beam on the two later rotating mills at Taxila (5th century) discussed above. 53. Schioler, pp. 101-2. The dating is through a coin of Ptolemy II, 265 B.C.; obviously, this means only that a date earlier than B.C.265 for the drying up of the tank is not likely. 54. Ananda K. Coomarswamy, 'The Persian Wheel', Journal of the American Oriental Society,Vol. 51, p. 283. 55. V. Trenckner et al., Critical Pali Dictionary, I, Copenhagen, 1948, p. 423. LallanjiGopal assigns the commentaryfrom which the quotation comes to the 12th century A.D. (Aspectsof Ilistory of Agriculturein AncientIndia, Varanasi, 1980,p. 124). 56. Coomaraswamy,op.cit., p. 283. 57. Usher, p. 129. Cf. Needham, Scienceand Civilizationin China,IV(2), p. 361. 58. The late Professor Dasharatha Sharma kindly supplied me the passage from the Mrichhakatika (the Little Clay Cart) which he placed near the end of the 4th century. LallanjiGopal, op.cit., pp. 127, 157, quotes this passage, as well as one from the Tantrakhyayika which he assigns to c.300 A.D. 59. See, for example, A.B. Keith, A Historyof SanskritLiterature, xii, and 246pp. 48.
SOCIAL SCIENTIST 60. The text of the inscription was published in CorpusInscriptionum III Indicarum, (Calcutta,1888), pp. 150 ff., but M.C. Joshi, 'An Early InscriptionalReference to Persian Wheel', Prof. K.A. Nilkantha Shastri 80th Brithday Felicitation Volume,pp. 214-17, correctshis translationand interprets the passage. 61. The I-arshacaritaof Bangbhatta, P.V. Kane, 2nd ed., Delhi, 1965, pp. 47 ed. (text),203 (notes). Cf. transl. by E.B.Cowell and K.W.Thomas,p. 264. 62. Marshall, Taxila,II, p. 410. No direct association with any well was, however, traced. 63. Gopal, op.cit., p. 127. 64. Kane's ed., pp. 47, 203. The statement is ignored in the Cowell-Thomas translation. 65. Quoted by by R. Nath, 'Rehant versus the Persian Wheel', JASB, XII (1-4) (1970), pp. 82-83. For the date of the text see Keith, op.cit., p. 414. L. Gopal's contentions against Nath's interpretation(L. Gopal, op cit., pp. 142-4) are not persuasive. 66. Kalhana's Rajatarangini,tr. M.A. Stein, London, 1900 (photo reprint, Delhi, 1979),I, pp. 3(4, 369 (BookVII,verses 1231, 1291). 67. D.C. Sircar, 'Stray Plate from Nanana', Epigraphia Indica, XXXIII,1959 60, pp. 228-244. There are several dates in the document, the last being V.S. 1205/A.D. 1147-48. Cf. L Gopal in JESHIO, VI(3)(1963),p. 297. 68. Coomaraswamy,op.cit., p. 284, made only a brief mention; T.M. Srinavasan in IndianJournalof Historyof Sceince,5(2), pp. 387-8, reproduced the panel, still thought the animal drove the wheel, though there is no gearing. Schioler, p. 85, fig. 57, gives a dear drawing and correctly interprets as 'waterwheel turned by the hands'. 69. For the text of the passage and a commentary,strongly urging the identification of the apparatuswith saqiya,see L. Gopal, op.cit., pp. 133-39, 167-8. I thank Dr S.P. Verma (or ratheran anonymous friend of his!) for giving me an independent renderingof the Sanskritpassage. 70. Schioler, p. 169. 73. Schioler, p. 58. The daulab is a deceptive name; it could also apply to water lifted by windlass or over pulley by oxen. 72. Ibn al-Razzaz al-Jazari, The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices, tr. Donald R. Hill, Dordrecth, 1974, pp. 74-75; Schioler, pp. 67-78, Figs. 48, 49 and 51a, and Plates 1, 2 and 3. The portgarland wheel is called sindi by al-Jazari(Schioler,p. 71). Was it because the potgarland was much in use in Arab Sind? 73. Schioler, pp. 78-79. 74. Riza Library(Rampur)MS, f. 78a-b. Professor I.H. Siddiqi has collected other references,but none of them are unluckilyspecificenough.. 75. Baburnama, Turki text (Hlyderabadcodex), ed. A. S. Beveridge, Leiden & London, 1905/1971, ff. 273b-274a; 'Abdu-r Rahim's Persian transl. (c. 1590), British Museum, Or 3174, ff. 376-377a. I have made my translation from the latter. See also A.S. Beveridge's tr., Baburnama,London, 1921, II, p. 486 (she omits the mention of Sahrind / Sirhind). 76. See S.P. Verma, 'Technology in Mughal India: evidence of Mughal painting', in Technology in Ancient and Medieval India, ed. Aniruddha Ray and S.K. Bagchi,pp. 17 18, plates 4, 5, and 6. 77. Abu'l Fazl, A'in-i Akbari, Blochmann,Calcutta, 1867-77, 1, p. 199. ed. 78. Ibid. 79. A'in-i Akbari,I, p. 126. Cf. M.A. Alvi and A. Rahman, Fathullah Shirazi-a Indian Scientist,New Delhi, 1968, pp. 4-8. Sixteenth-century 80. Blochmann reproduced this in his translation of the A'in-i Akbari,Vol. I, ed. D.C. Phillott, Calcutta, 1927, photo reprint, New Delhi, 1977, Plate XV, opposite p. 18. The circleswith numeroustriangleson the rims were conventional
PURSUINGTHE HISTORY INDIAN TECHNOLOGY 21 OF symbols of gear-wheels as in al-Jazari'sdiagrams. The drawing in the lower portion of the same plate is a modern drawing, where the gears are shown as they would be on modernmetalwheels. How far Lynn White was right is shown by Forbes'sstatement that the spinning wheel was invented by Indian spinners about 500 B.C.or750 A.D., but with no references given to any text, primary or secondary (Studies in Ancient Technology,IV, p. 156). Lynn White, 'Tibet, India and Malaya as Sources of Western Medieval Technology', AmericanIlistorical Review,LXV(3)(1960), 517-18. Scienceand Civilizationin China,IV(2), pp. 102Ibid.,pp. 105-107. Gao Hanyu and Shi Bokui, 'The Spinning Wheel and the Loom', in Ancient China's Technology and Science, Institute of History of Natural Sciences, Beijing,1983,pp. 505-06. Eg. Forbes,op. cit., p. 156. Ahamad Y al-Has san and D.R. Hill, Islamic Technology-an illustrated history,Cambridge/Paris,1986,pp. 185-6 and Fig. 7-9. All the quotations are from the Lughat-namaof dihkhuda, ed. Muhammad Mu'in, Teheran, 1338, fasc. 50, s.v. charkha. and Social Change,pp. 119, 173; Needham, Lynn White, MedievalTechnology IV(2),pp. 105-6. PierreVilar, A Historyof GoldandMoney,1450-1920, London, 1984, p. 161. Taxila,II, p. 544. Moti Chandra,'IndianCostumes and Textiles from the 8th to the 12th Century', Journalof Indian TextileHistory, V (1960), pp. 24-25. The two texts examined are the lexicons Vaijayanitand Abhidhanachintamani. Hasht Bihisht, ed. M. Sulaiman Ashraf, Aligarh, 1336/1918, p. 27. The text which is unique reads gham, sorrow, which would hardly suit the context. I take it, therefore,that the word intended was khum,jar. The yar was often wetted to make it stand firm. 'Isami, Futhuhu-sSalatin,ed. A.S. Usha, Madras, 1948, pp. 134-5. BritishLibraryMs Or. 3299, f. 94b. in Ibid., f. 151a. See Plate 34 in A. Ray and S.K. Bagchi, Technology Ancientand Medieval India. in Cf. Ishrat Alam in Technology Ancientand MedievalIndia, op.cit., pp. 132-3. Usher, History of Mechanical Inventions,pp. 153-54. FurtherExcavations MohenjoDaro, I, p. 475. at Miftahu-l Fuzala,f. 161b. Published in Lubor Hajek,IndianMiniatures theMoghulSchool,Prague, 1960, of Plate 16. The original is painted on the margin of Jahangir'salbum. S.N. Sen (ed.), Indian Travelslof Thevenotand Careri,p. 138. Travelsin India by Jean-Baptiste tr. Tavernier, V. Ball, ed. W. Crooke, London, 1925/New Delhi, 1977,II, pp. 44-45. Fryer,A New Accountof EastIndiaand Persia,& c., II, pp. 44-46. Tavernier,op.cit., pp. 45 46. This point seems to be missed by A.J. Qaisar, The Indian Responseto European and Technology Culture,Delhi, 1982, pp. 80-81, who says after citing Tavernier and Frayer:'But evidence is not forthcoming to identify Indian response in this area. Most probably Indian experts continued with their traditional tools and methods';whereafterThevenot is quoted for the bow-drill. Morris D. Morris, 'Trendsand Tendencies in Indian Economic History', Indian Economicand Social History Review,V(4), p. 330 n. The statement is made in respect of Mughal India. 1970,p. 28. EuropeanCultureand OverseasExpansion,Harmond-sworth,
82. 83. 84. 85. 86. 87. 88. 89. 90. 91. 92. 93. 94. 95. 96. 97. 98. 99. 100. 101. 102. 103. 104. 105. 106. 107.
SOCIALSCIENTIST 110. I have argued this point at some length with reference to Mughal India in Indian Historical Review,V(1-2), pp. 168-171. 111. FrancoisBernier,Travelsin theMugul Empire (A.D. 1656-1668), tr. A. Constable, 2nd. ed. revised by V.A. Smith, London,1916,p. 258. 112. Values as an obstacle to economic growth in South Asia', Journalof Economic History,xxvii (December1967),pp. 588-607. 113. Cf. D.D. Kosambi, An Introduction the study of Indianhistory,Bombay, 1956, to about 'Islamic raiders-breaking hidebound custom in the adoption and transmissionof techniques.'
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