Unpublished manuscript on Hindu dieties

Index to the mythological box of Hindoo paintings

[Odisha, India: ca. 1840]. 4to, manuscript text, pp. [8], 165, [1]; half calf over marbled boards, red morocco label on upper cover, gilt title on spine; small oil spot on title page, fine. A manuscript index, intended to accompany images collected into a "mythological box" which was then sent to friends in Europe for their education and entertainment. The introductory apology states: "It was thought that without some explanation, the figures of the Hindoo deities would afford little either amusement or information." He goes on to explain why one should take interest in "monstrous fiction," saying that to millions of people the myths are true, and that sympathy for this mindset would better help the missionary do his work. Following this are descriptions of 48 images distributed across 12 boards, which comprise the contents of the said box. The descriptions are quite thorough, and cover the general concept of the image (usually a god), its history or origin, practices associated with them and so on. The entry on Kallee (Kali), for example, describes her relationship with other gods, her domains of influence, some important stories involving her, who worships her and how, and even includes a hymn that Lacey claims is sung by human sacrifices "just before they are murdered." Other entries are similarly negative, and some make mention of local events. Charles Lacey spent the majority of his life doing missionary work in Orissa (Odisha). He arrived in India at the age of 24, and passed away of illness at the age of 54. During his time in Orissa he became notably fluent in the local language. His obituary stated that "few missionaries ever acquire so thorough a mastery of the tones and idioms of a foreign tongue as he did," and his knowledge of Hindu mythology was noted as "very extensive and accurate." As part of his missionary duties Lacey translated and published a variety of material for the local missionary press, but as far as we know this text was never printed. Another copy of this index appeared at auction in 2010, accompanied by a collection of watercolor illustrations. It incorrectly states that our copy is part of a printed edition. The box itself appears to have disappeared. Our copy has no illustrations, just the holograph manuscript by itself. It also contains a few corrections in a less stable hand on the table of contents, and a footnote added in that same hand that refers to an incident in 1851, initialed by Lacey. As Lacey died in 1853, our assumption is that this is Lacey's personal copy, to be kept by him after the box and its index were sent to his friends in Europe. See The General Baptist Repository, and Missionary Observer, 1852, p. 302 for Lacey's obituary. Item #54687

Price: $2,250.00

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