Posted on: 11 January 2017

Pen-and-ink and wash by George Chinnery of an Indian villager with a bullock, dated between 1808 and 1822. Inscribed on front in ink is: 'Hindoo Costume from Nature. Chinnery.'

India has the largest number of cows and buffaloes in the world. Cows are regarded as sacred by the Hindus and are a symbol of motherhood and fertility. Bullocks in particular have an important economic value as they are widely used by farmers to plough the fields. The full-moon day in the month of Shravana is known as 'Go Purnima'. In that day agriculturists worship the cattle for the work they have done. Bullocks are bathed and decorated with flowers and sandle-paste and their horns are oiled. A piece of new cloth is placed on the back of the bullocks and they are fed with rice-cakes and pulses.

Text and image credit:
Copyright © The British Library Board

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George Chinnery self portrait.