The Saga of Indian Cannons

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Item Code: IDK189
Author: R. Balasubramaniam
Publisher: Aryan Books International
Language: English
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788173053399
Pages: 355 (Illustrated Throughout in B/W & Colour)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 12.0 X 9.0"
Book Description

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, England.

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.

From the Jacket

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.

About the Author

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.


Foreword vii
Messages viii, ix
Preface x
Introductory Note xvii
1.Introduction 1
Metallurgical Heritage 3
Invention of Gunpowder 8
The Invention of the Cannon 11
Early Devices 12
2.The Beginning 17
Early References 17
Diffusion into India 19
Egypt and Turkey 20
China 20
Gujarati Guns 20
Cast Bronze Cannons 22
Wrought Iron Cannons 28
Cast Iron Cannons 33
Impact on Literature 38
Point Blank Fire 39
3.Cannon Operation 45
Origin of the Name 45
Parts of Cannon 47
Barrel 47
Rear 50
Handling Rings 55
Trunnions 57
Deployment of Cannon 58
Control of Cannon Forces 61
4.Developments in Cast Bronze Cannon Technology 65
Types of Cannons 65
Babur's Kazan 68
Babur's Zarb zan 70
Babur's Firingi 71
Jinjals or Narnals 76
Akbar's Mortars 76
Akbar's Light Cannons 77
Light Cannons 80
Material of Construction 81
Casting Technology 90
Methodology 96
Pattern Preparation 97
Mould Preparation 97
Ornamentation 98
Machining 101
Gun Foundries 103
5.Developments of Forge Welding Cannon Technology 111
Catalogue 112
Thanjavur 113
Dhaka 116
Murshidabad 117
Bishnupur 118
Jhansi 119
Assam 122
Tripura 123
Gulbarga 124
Bijapur 125
Bidar 127
Hyderabad 133
Karimnagar District 135
Basava Kalyan 136
Udgir 137
Khandhar 138
Kaulas 138
Other Deccani Forts 138
Other locations 139
Technology of Forge World Cannons 140
Design 140
Construction 142
6.Cannons of the Mighty Mughals 155
Artillery under Mughal Emperors 155
Cannons Names 161
Organizations 164
Aurangzeb's Cannons 165
Fath Raihbar 166
Qila Shikan 168
Fath Gusha 173
7.Cannons of Regional Powers 177
Rajput Cannons 177
Maratha Cannons 187
Sikh Cannons 197
Cannons of Tipu 211
8.Indian Innovations 215
Shaturnal 215
Multipiece Screwable Cannons 221
Multibarrel Cannons 222
Yarghu 227
Mortars 229
9.Composite Cannons 235
Characteristic Features 236
Manufacturing Methodology 241
Chinese Examples 250
10.Cannons and Fortifications 255
Bastions 260
Platforms 262
Ramparts 264
11.Cannon Accessories 273
Gun Carriages 273
Cossipore Gun and Shell Factory 281
Animals for Carting Gun Carriages 284
Saltpetre 286
Saltpetre Industry in Medieval India 287
Saltpetre Extraction 288
Saltpetre Industry in North India 290
Saltpetre Industry in Deccan 292
Cannonballs 294
Small Arms 298
European Mercenary Artillerymen 302
Begum Samru 306
12.Rockets 311
Medieval India 313
Construction of Ban 315
Mysore Rockets 318
Legacy – Congreve Rockets 320
Select Bibliography 325
Index 327
**Contents and Sample Pages**

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