Taking banal of Bengal’s cannon wealth
Last year, two British-era cannons — Armstrong-Frederick adjustment and Bloomfield adjustment — of arctic Calcutta were adequate afterwards abiding ambulatory by a citizens’ group.
Civic workers had apparent the cannons in 2010 aback they were laying baptize pipelines abreast Mayo Hospital on Strand Road. Thereafter, the again councillor of Ward 21, Ajoy Saha, had them transferred assimilate the aisle of Maharshi Debendra Road. The citizens’ group, Purono Kolkatar Galpo (PKG), however, accepted a added abiding adjustment and one that befitted the actual amount of the duo. “We kept ambrosial to Saha to restore them. We alike organised a airing ambitious the cannons be displayed properly,” says Jayanta Sen, who is a affiliate of PKG. Finally, on the action of Saha and accepted councillor Sujata Saha the cannons were cleaned, army on a white marble slab and inaugurated with abundant alarum in September 2019.
The Armstrong-Frederick and Bloomfield are ablaze British gun models that were acclimated throughout the Indian subcontinent amid the mid-18th and mid-19th centuries.
From the 16th aeon on, gun architecture was centrally controlled by the Board of Ordnance in England. Its arch appointment holder was the Surveyor of the Ordnance. John Armstrong and Charles Frederick, both had active the top post. The archetypal called afterwards them bears imprints of their architecture modifications. It remained in assembly from 1760 to 1786.
The Bloomfield pattern, which came afterwards and remained in assembly till 1860, is called afterwards Thomas Bloomfield, who became ambassador of arms in 1780. It has a bend through which a blubbery braiding can pass. “When it is fired, the backfire is violent. To analysis it, a braiding was deeply anchored to something,” explains Amitabha Karkun, who is an able on cannons and old firearms, at a contempo allocution on the cannons of West Bengal organised by the Indian Museum on amusing media.
Why should we affliction about cannons now? “Because they acquaint us article about the abstruse and metallurgical ability of a assertive time. We additionally get an abstraction about the availability of assets and the advance of science,” Karkun tells The Telegraph.
Experts affirmation the cannons of Bengal can be about absolute as pre-Mughal, Mughal and Indo-European types. “Gunpowder,” clarifies Karkun, “was pre-Mughal”. Pre-Mughal cannons belonged to the Husain Shahi dynasty, Sher Shah Suri, and alike the Bara-Bhuiyans who acclimated them to abide the Mughal expansion.
Each cannon blazon has its own characteristic anatomy and design. “Pre-Mughal cannons accept geometric beautification on them, while the Mughal ones accept floral patterns. British and French casting adamant cannons are bare of any such design,” says Karkun. “They are not aloof accoutrement of war but additionally affirmation of history,” he adds.
Calcutta has a abundance of such evidence. There is the Chinese cannon army on a active dragon appropriate in advanced of the Raj Bhavan. According to the inscription on it, it was taken from the Chinese in 1842 in celebration of accord “dictated beneath the walls of Nankin by the argosy and aggressive armament of England and India”. Fort William, the address of the Eastern Command, has 73 cannons. The best important of the lot is possibly the tope Zafar Baksh that was bogus during Aurangzeb’s administration in the mid to the backward 17th century. The precincts of the Indian Museum accept nine cannons acceptance to assorted eras appropriate from the 16th to the 19th century. The Asiatic Society has a cannon that already belonged to the arms of Assam rulers. And the bounds of the Tipu Sultan abbey accept 18 cannons.
But one of the ancient cannons in these genitalia happens to be not in Calcutta but in Murshidabad. The Bachchawali tope stands in advanced of the admirable Hazarduari Palace. In the 1905 book, The Musnad of Murshidabad, Purna Chandra Majumdar writes that the gun was best acceptable bogus amid the 12th and 14th centuries by the Muslim rulers of Gaur. Majumdar observes, “It adequate originally on the sandbank abutting Ichhaganj (how it came there is not known), absorption the burghal from advance from the northwest.”
Bachcha agency child. Bachchawali agency “one with child”. There is added than one adventure about how this cannon came to be so named.
While some say it produced such a loud babble aloft actuality accursed that abundant women went into labour, Majumdar writes, “It is said that the gun was already accursed in Murshidabad and the complete produced abounding cases of abortions for afar around. Hence, its name.” Karkun believes the name has to do with its armament chamber. He says, “This is the alone cannon in eastern India accepting such a different coin anchored architecture with a abstracted disposable armament chamber, abundant like a bachcha.”
The added abundance of Murshidabad is the Jahankosh. This cannon, congenital by the able artisan Janardhan Karmakar during the administration of Shah Jahan and belief 7,900 kilos, was begin anchored in a peepul tree. The timberline had developed about the cannon and aerial it up as it grew. Years later, the peepul was cut bottomward and the gun was brought to what acclimated to be the topekhana or arms backyard of the Nawab of Murshidabad. Says Karkun, “The cannon is 7-feet 6-inches long. The bore measures 6 inches. Every time the gun was fired, it had to be loaded with 26 kilograms of gunpowder.”
Neighbouring Bishnupur is home to Dalmadal; the aboriginal name is Dal-Mardan, which agency “crusher of people” in Persian. It was bogus amid 1600 and 1700. It is one of the ancient wrought adamant coin anchored cannons of India. There was a Persian inscription at the touch-hold end that apprehend “one lakh twenty bristles taka” — possibly the amount of authoritative the cannon. Karkun knows this from archival pictures; currently the inscriptions on the Dalmadal accept been abandoned as a aftereffect of connected affecting by tourists, aloof as in the case of Jahankosh.
And, aback to Calcutta.
BBD Bag. 2 Red Cross Place. Three cannons angle at absorption at the access to an office. “This acclimated to be the exhibit of the acclaimed gun dealer, R.B. Rodah,” says Karkun. These cannons attending like Congreve (named afterwards Captain William Congreve) average cannons acclimated by the Royal Navy, but beneath in length.
According to records, the aboriginal casting of such accoutrements happened in 1830. Their admeasurement fabricated them accessible to blaze from ships, but eventually, black with their abundant recoil, the Royal Navy alone them. The ships of the East India Company, however, connected to use them.
The Red Cross Place cannons possibly came from such ships.
But no cannon in the burghal has been so footloose as the one that currently adorns the access to Town Hall. The 18-mm Krupp gun is a bequest of the Second Boer War (1898-1902). Afterwards the British defeated the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, it bedeviled their armaments. This cannon of German accomplish was allotment of the anatomy and presented by the British acme to the Calcutta Corporation in 1905. It was meant to be a accolade to Indians who had alternate in the war as a non-combatant force. The cannon was kept in the capital belfry block of the axial architecture of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation till the mid-1960s. At the time of the Indo-Pak battle in 1965, it was confused to Market Square (now Chaplin Park), adverse the address of the borough body. Next, it confused to New Market. And there it stood in the centre of things, a Arctic Star for absent souls. In 2006, the authorities absitively to move it to the Town Hall for bigger budget and canning afterwards one of its auto came off, an after-effects of too abundant amore and absorption showered assimilate it by the brat gaggle.
Once a apart cannon, about consistently a apart cannon.
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