[Nila-Pooja / Various Expiations of the Hindoos]Nylah-Poudjah
[published Paris, 1808]
Etching with hand-colouring, platemark approx 495 x 360mm (19½ x 14¼"). Uncut sheet; central fold as issued.
'At night, when the j'haump, of which we have already spoken, is over, the most zealous performers of expiations ressort in crowds to the munders or pagodas. There, some of them pierce their tongues with long irons, and even with a sort of cutlass or other large instrument; some get their fingers bored, and suffer iron spikes of a considerable size to remain in them; others have one hundred and twenty wounds of the same size inflicted on their foreheads, their breasts or their backs: this number, of which the mysterious amount remains unknown to us, is rigorously enjoined. Some, in fine, there are, who cause their loins to be pierced, and pass cords, the pipe of the hooka, and reeds, through the aperture, in the form of a seton. 'In this manner they go in procession the whole of the following day, stopping to dance before the doors of such as pay them; for the rich profit of these expiations through their money, and redeem their sins by the sufferings of the poor: which, in the creed of the Hindoos, is not less efficacious, nor less agreeable to God. Their march is accompanied with the sound of instruments and the acclamations of the crowd; perfumes are burned in the hands of certain Hindoos, which being probably prepared to resist the effect of the fire give something of a miraculous appearance to the feast..The feast which is celebrated with the greatest solemnity of expiatory ceremonies and tortures is that of the god Calkee. At three miles distance from Calcutta, the author was present at it. In the interior of the temple the feet waded in blood' (from letterpress published with print). From the first volume of Balthazar Solvyns' 'Les Hindoūs'. Solvyns (1760-1824), a Flemish artist who lived in Calcutta from 1791 to 1803, etched a collection of 250 plates documenting various aspects of Calcutta life. The set was first published in Calcutta, where it proved a financial failure, and Solvyns produced another set which he published in Paris after returning to Europe, although again the venture was unsuccessful, probably in part due to its publication at the height of the Napoleonic Wars. Solvyns later returned to Antwerp, where William I appointed him Captain of the Port.
[Ref: 33662] £280.00