One of the main aims of our research into Indian's rich metallurgical past is to excite the young readers about the
exalted status of India's metallurgical knowledge in ancient and medieval times. A related aim was to inform the
eager and interested non-Indian readers about the wonders of Indian metallurgical skill. Some of the less-known
wonders of Indian metallurgical skill are large bronze cannons and forge welded iron cannons, available all
across the Indian subcontinent in different historical locations. The surviving massive vintage bronze cannons
attest to the engineering expertise of the Indian metal casters. The forge welded iron cannons of India are the
real undiscovered gems of Indian Blacksmith's skill. A large collection of vintage Indian cannons is presented in
this book, several for the first time. Many of them in neglected condition in remote forts all across the Indian
subcontinent. They are mute witnesses to the glorious heights attained by the Indian metal caster and
blacksmiths before the advent of mechanization and large scale industrial production of metals.
The background research on the subject consumed a considerable amount of time and the present book is the
outcome of sustained research extending over several years. Obtaining photographs of and information about
vintage cannons was an onerous task and I acknowledge several people (my students, colleagues, friends and,
in several cases, strangers who promptly responded to my requests on emails) for their assistance in collecting
information about vintage cannons from different locations in India. In particular I thank Dr. A.K. Sinha, V.N.
Prabhakar, Alok Tripathi, Vimal Desai of the Archaeological Survey of India; Karni Singh Jasol of Mehrangarh
Museum Trust, Jodhpur; S.M. Khened of Nehru Science Museum, Worli; Sanjay Deshpande of INTACH, Pune;
Dr. Sila Tripathi of CSIR's National Institute of Ocean Technology, Goa; Anshu Bharadwaj of Bangalore; Prof.
Sibel Salman of Koc University, Istanbul; Namit Arora; Prof. Randall Bytwerk of Calvin College, Grand Rapids,
Michigan, USA; John Weedy, England; Prof. Arun Bandopadhyay of University of Calcutta, Kolkata; Prof. Kamal
Jain of National Museum Institute, New Delhi; Dr. V. Jeyraj of Government Museum, Chennai; Dr. Shashikant
Bhatt of Indore; Vijendra Kumar of Kanpur and Selvyn Jussy of Hyderabad.
The following organizations were cooperative in providing reference material for the book; Mehrangarh Museum
Trust, Jodhpur; The Asiatic Society of Bombay, Mumbai; Victoria Memorial Hall of Kolkata; Bharitaya Itihas
Samshadhak Mandal, Pune; Fort William in Kolkata; Artillery Centre at Golconda, Hyderabad; college of
Materials Management, Jabalpur; The Royal collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, England; The Infinity
Foundation, USA; The Royal Artillery Historical Trust in England; and Victoria and Albert Museum, London,
I express my special thanks to Robert Douglas Smith, Editor, Journal of Ordnance Society, England for copy
editing the entire book and providing several valuable suggestions. In addition, he was kind enough to write the
introductory note to this book. I thank professors Najaf Haidar of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, who
assisted in translating the Persian inscription on several cannons. I cherish the continuing interaction with Dr. S.
Jaikishan, SNLSA Degree College, Dharmapuri and Dr. Pranab Chattopadhyaya of Centre for Archaeological
Studies of East India, Kolkata on the subject of cannons, in general.
I acknowledge the valuable academic discussions with Ruth Rhynas Brown, England; Neil Carleton of Victoria
& Albert Museum, London, England; Mathew Back of Liverpool Museums, England; Dr. Peter Vemming and
Lars Barfot, Denmark; Dr. Delphine Neff and Dr. Philippe Dillmann, France; Dr. Kaushik Roy, Dr. A.K. Bag and
Prof. A.K. Biswas on matters related to artillery and gunpowder.
I thank my student who assisted me in studying several of the vintage cannons described in this book, in
particular, M. Surrender, S. Sankaran, Satyam Suwas, Mukesh Bharadwaj, Vikas Kumar, Arpit Patni, Ankur
Jain, Nimish Sharma, Bharat Singh Rajpurohit, Amaresh Dalal, Indranil Banerjee, J. Vijay Sarathy, Kallol Mondal
and Krishanu Biswas. I also thank Mr. Rajesh Negi for typesetting and design inputs.
Professors Anantharaman has always been a great source of inspiration for all my academic endeavours. I must
also than and place on record the excellent discussions that I have had on the subject of archaeometallurgy, in
general, with Professors V.N. Misra, R. Rama Rao, S. Ranganathan, Bhanu Prakash, A. Ghosh, P.
Ramachandra Rao, K. Chatttopadhyay, C.V. Sundaram, Vibha Tripathi, A.K. Bhatnagar, R.K. Dube, and Drs.
M.N. Mungole, Sharada Srinivasan, Placid Rodriguez, Baldev Raj, K. Roessler, K. Igaki, Ellen M. Raven, Meera
Dass, A.V. Ramesh Kumar and Paolo Piccardo and also with my dear uncle Lt. Col. (Retd.) Puran Chand Saini.
The constant support and continued encouragement of my family and friends is sincerely appreciated.
The invention of cannons and their use in warfare added a different dimension to battles. The fates of nations
were decided by the use of cannons. The science of gunpowder and the technology of cannons, from their
introduction in the Indian subcontinent in the middle of the fifteenth century up to the pre-modern period, have
been illustrated using Mughal miniature paintings and analysis of extant canon pieces. The massive and
wonderful forge welded iron cannons and cast bronze cannons of medieval India have been presented, some for
the first time, in this book. The mighty cannons that established Mughal, Maratha, Sikh and Deccan powers have
been described. Indian innovations in cannons technology like shaturnal (cannons fired from back of camels),
composite cannons (of inner wrought iron bore and outer bronze casting) and bans (battlefield rockers) offer
sufficient proof of Indian ingenuity in science and technology.
The book draws inspiration and major material from the original publications on the subject by the author.
Written simply and profusely illustrated with line drawings and photographs, the book embodies the latest
researches on the subject. It will fascinate both serious scholars and lay readers, and provide them rare
glimpses into India's rich military and metallurgical heritage.
Professor R. Balasubramaniam has vast experience in teaching corrosion and Indian
archaeometallurgy. After graduating in metallurgical engineering from the Banaras Hindu University in 1984 with
a gold medal, he completed his PhD in materials engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA in
1990. He has, since then, been teaching and conducting research at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur in
the Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering. He is the recipient of several prestigious awards like
the BHU University Gold Medal (1984), Indian Institute of Metals Vishwa Bharathi Award (1984), Indian National
Science Academy Young Scientist Award (1933), Humboldt Fellowship from the German Government (1996),
Materials Research Society of India Medal (1999) and Metallurgist of the Year (1999) awarded by the
Government of India. The widely published author is on the editorial board of several international journal. His
significant research work on the famous 1600-year old Gupta period corrosion-resistant Iron Pillar, located in the
Qutub, has received national and international acclaim. He is the author of four other books. He is the author of
four other books. Delhi Iron Pillar: New Insights, The World Heritage Complex of the Qutub, The Story of the
Delhi Iron Pillar and Marvels of Indian Iron through the Ages.
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend