Boats on terracotta temples of Bengal : Pre-modern Age Images
European influence , beyond local models.
I thought of writing this hub after interaction with Mr Alex Blokhin , via his blog on models of ships, which I reached through rec.arts.fine of google.com.This blog's URL is : http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.fine/t/6c2f228b410ab7c9?hl=en .
Those who have gone through my hub on the timeline of the terracotta temples of Bengal (http://hubpages.com/hub/ttob_6_timeline) know that the best of the terra cotta temples took shape between 1643 and 1775 AD. During this period, traders and pirates from European countries were regulars in Bengal.
While I could not find a time tag for the 1st Portugese settlement in Satgaon or Saptagram, Antonio Tavaras founded Ugolim in the mouth of the Ganges between 1579-80 AD near Saptagram , which later became known as Hooghly.In 1603 AD,around 5000 Portugese were resident of this place. (http://www.colonialvoyage.com/portuguese-bay-bengal/)
The other notable European settlements are:Chinsurah, which was a Dutch settlement between 1656 and 1825. It was later exchanged by the Dutch for the British-held Indonesian island of Sumatra in 1825. Fort Gustavus, a church, three barracks and many old tombs stand testimony to the bygone days. Chandannagore, a former French colony, is a beautifully laid-out town, on the banks of the river Ganges. The churches, convent and the French Administrator’s residence are the points of interest here.
The southern part of Bengal, specially the forest area known as Sunderban saw pirates coming in speedy and light galleys to plunder villages on the river banks of of these area.
This part of Bengal always produced good quality boats for sale, which are used for carrying various types of merchandise to Hoogly/Saptagram/ Calcutta and other areas. The Sundari provided the best form of wood that used to last long or did not wear out/spoil easily in saline water and were often superior than the British Oaks. The types of boats made are Ghurab, Gallivat/Jalia, Bepari, Balia/Balam Pal/Polwaree Massoola, Fusta and koosa boats and budgerows (www.monglaport.gov.bd/his.htm).
Photos of drawings of Fusta and Galllivat are here.
The artists who prepared the terracotta panels ,were influenced by the European boats as well as the ones they saw on a daily basis on the rivers around their villages. Riverine trade was doing very well during the period we are talking about.We see these boats in the terracotta panels.We also see aristocrats enjoying boat-rides , accompanied by musicians,dancers and friends.
As we go more into this subject, the boats we find in these panels can be tied up with names.Here , we have reproductions of paintings of a few European boats of those days , whose name we find in the list of boats which used be crafted in Bengal for sale and a scene on the Ganges, apart from photos of panels of terracotta temples.