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loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

domestic pets of hindustan, 1835

In 1835 when Englishwoman Emma Roberts published her travel essays, Hindostan - or Hindustan - was a popular name for the Indian subcontinent.  Here she writes of the rarity and value there of what in England were common enough creatures:
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In the cold season, strings of camels laden with the rich productions of Thibet and Persia pass on their way to Benares and Patna; some are freighted with costly merchandize,-shawls, carpets, and gems; others carry less precious articles,—apples, kistmists (raisins), dried apricots, pomegranates, grapes, and pistachio-nuts. Upon the necks of these camels, beautiful little Persian kittens are seen seated, the venders finding a ready sale for their live cargo both at European and native houses. These silkenhaired bushy-tailed cats make the prettiest and the most useful pets of an Indian establishment; they are capital mousers, and will attack snakes and the larger kind of lizards; a bungalow, tenanted by one of these long-furred specimens of the feline race and a terrier-dog, will soon be cleared of vermin. They are in great esteem all over the country, and will fetch from eight to fifty rupees, the latter price being offered at Calcutta, where they are not so easily procured as in the upper country.
The common cat of Hindostan is exceedingly ugly when unmixed with foreign breeds; but there is a very pretty and curious variety in the Indian islands, with a sleek coat and a short flat tail, square at the end. The Persian merchants also bring very beautiful greyhounds to India for sale, but they are always extremely high-priced, being much in request; the native, or pariah dogs, are a degenerate and useless race of mongrels, and infinite care is taken to preserve foreign breeds, which require great attention, the climate being very unfavourable to all except the hardiest sort of terriers.

Emma Roberts, Scenes and Characteristics of Hindostan, with Sketches of Anglo-Indian Society, Volume 2 (London: W.H. Allen & Company, 1835) pp. 219-20.

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