Celebrating Georgia and India

On Monday 11 November, the Society with the British Georgian Society hosted the  annual celebration for Rustaveli day, marking the 150th birthday of Marjory Scott Wardrop (1869-1909), the first translator of the Georgian national epic, The Knight in a Panther’s Skin, written by Shota Rustaveli in the 12th century. This was published by the RAS in 1912 as part of the Oriental Translation Fund series. Marjory, along with her brother, the distinguished British diplomat, Oliver Wardrop, did much to bring Georgia to public attention in England and both are remembered in Georgia to this day.  Her Excellency, the Georgian ambassador, Tamar Beruchashvili  spoke warmly of Marjory’s great love and interest in Georgia and her aspiration towards progressive ideas and change.

The Georgian Ambassador, Tamar Beruchashvili

The evening continued with 2 talks: the first by Nino Strachey on her mother’s family, The Bagrationi of Imereti in Exile – the story of Princess Tamara Imeretinsky, and the second by Alec and Katya D’Janoeff on The life of the industrialist Michael Aramyants and his great-great-grandaughter’s sojourn in Tblisi. The evening was enlivened with Georgian wine and food.

On Tuesday 12 November, Dr.Giles Tillotson lectured on his new book entitled Vision and Landscape: New Perspectives on Oriental Scenery by Thomas and William Daniell (DAG, New Delhi, 2019) which  contains essays by Tillotson and several other noted scholars: J.P. Losty, David Arnold, Paula Sengupta, Malini Roy  and Yuthika Sharma. Dr. Tillotson reminded the audience that the 144 aquatint prints produced by the Daniells represent ‘the single largest and most impressive project by English artists to depict Indian architecture and landscape’.   He  offered a fresh perspective on the work of Mildred Archer (1911-2005) who pioneered the study of 18th and 19th century art in British India and discussed the issues raised by the Daniell’s use of ‘the picturesque style’ of painting. The lecture, attended by over 80 people, was followed by lively debate. The Daniells (uncle and nephew) were members of the Royal Asiatic Society and  in 1823 prepared the designs for medals and emblems for the Society, including  the logo of the richly caparisoned elephant  still in use  today.

Vision & Landscape, edited by Giles Tillotson

On Thursday 14 November, we welcomed Professor Michael Franklin to talk about Phebe Gibbes and her life in Calcutta, based on his recent publication, Hartly House, Calcutta: Phebe Gibbes. Franklin edited the original novel, adding a full introductory essay and explanatory notes to provide  an accessible perspective on 18th-century literature and early British India to researchers, students, and the general reader.

Professor Michael Franklin

Next week we welcome Dr Tilman Frasch (Manchester Metropolitan University) on Tuesday 19 November, 6.30 pm, to lecture on “Bagan and the Theravada Buddhist Ecumene in the 12-13 Centuries CE”. And on Wednesday 20th November, 6.30 pm, we welcome Lord Stephen Green for a lecture and book presentation on “The Human Odyssey – East, West and the Search for Universal Values”. We hope that you will be able to join us for one or both of these lectures.