15 July 2005
KAVALI VENKATA RAMASVAMI
A Digest of the Different Castes of India, with accounts of them compiled by C.V. Ramaswamy, Pundit, corresponding member R.A.S. of Great Britain and Ireland, and vice-president M.H.L.S. Madras: printed by A. Willard, published by C.V. Ramaswamy, 1837. 12° in fours (156 x 100mm). 83 hand-coloured lithographic plates. (Plate 38 browned, light offsetting of text onto plate 1.) Contemporary straight-grained sheep, gilt (worn). Provenance: Bowis Forster (signature on title, presentation insscription to:); Mrs. Forster ('For Mrs. Forster from her most affectionately attendant Son Bowis Forster 15th Septr. 1837 Madras').
FIRST EDITION of this comprehensive survey, illustrated by a fine series of plates. Venkata Ramasvami's dedication identifies his intended audience: 'To the British Indian public, this work is dedicated'. More specifically, his work was aimed at the new arrival from Britain faced by a bewildering array of 'castes' of professions, each with a very specific job to perform. The author identifies 83 different 'castes' and gives a detailed description of each. These descriptions are tied to the 83 plates, which are based on original drawings by unknown Indian or Company School artists.
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