Dr. Norbert Peabody receives the Colonel James Tod Award

On 1st March 2020, Dr Norbert Peabody was bestowed with the Colonel James Tod Award by the Udaipur-based Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF).  This award was instituted in 1996-97 as part of MMCF’s scheme of awards to honour men and women who play a pivotal role on the world stage in contributing to Mewar and India. Dr Peabody, a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, is currently working on the reissue of Col. James Tod’s two-volume magnum opus “Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan” first published in 1829.

The India GB News reported on the occasion saying:

“At a glittering function held at Manek Chowk, the palace grounds with the imposing City Palace facade as its backdrop, Mr Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, Trustee of MMCF, presented the prestigious award to Dr. Peabody in the august presence of the chief guest Dr.K Kasturirangan, a veteran astrophysicist of India and Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar, Chairman and Managing Trustee of MMCF.

It was the 38th Awards function for the Foundation and Dr. Peabody joined a galaxy of global academics and thought-leaders who have been previous recipients of the Col. James Tod award. These include Dr. Paul Craddock of British Museum, London; Dr. Andrew Topsfield of Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Prof Jack Hawley of Columbia University; and Prof Sir Angus Deaton of Princeton University in recent times.

British actor-director Lord Richard Attenborough, French author Dominique Lapierre, British novelist and essayist Sir V. S. Naipaul have been past awardees whose acceptance of this award “has added a distinct measure of honour to the Maharana Mewar Foundation Awards,” as Mr Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar said.

“It is a great honour to receive this award,” said Dr Peabody in an interview, conducted leisurely after lunch at the elegantly-appointed Satkar banquet hall of Taj Fateh Prakash Palace in Udaipur. “Partly because I look at colleagues, previous winners of this award, these are people I have admired and are very accomplished people, like the Rudolphs who were such great sociologists and historians of Rajasthan. To be placed with them is a big thing. Recently, the awardee was Prof Jack Hawley at Columbia University; he is an older mentor of mine. I have admired him and correspond with him regularly now as I work on the Tod volumes,” he said, adding, “To be recognised by the Mewar Family is another big honour.””

Dr Norbert Peabody receiving the Col. James Tod Award from Mr Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, Trustee of the Maharana Mewar Charitable Foundation in Udaipur (Picture India GB News).

The re-issue of James Tod’s Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan is a collaboration between the Royal Asiatic Society and Yale University Press. The two-volume first edition contained several paintings, maps, charts and appendices not published in later editions. The forthcoming publication will comprise of three volumes: Volumes 1 and 2  will be the Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan restored to its original state, including Tod’s original illustrations and the charts of different rulers of Rajasthan’s Princely Houses. They include more than one hundred engravings,  based on water-colours by Tod’s assistant.

Volume 3 consists of a series of introductory essays placing Tod in his times. And there will be a further essay, the Afterlives of James Tod, which will examine Tod in contemporary times: his significance for the current political and social life in India.

The Royal Asiatic Society celebrates its bicentenary in 2023,  and these volumes to be published in advance, in 2022, will be the academic centrepiece of their celebrations. Col. James Tod was the first librarian of the Society and he bequeathed his collection of manuscripts, artworks, diaries and papers to the Society, making this publication a very fitting part of the Society’s celebrations.

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In other news, on Thursday 12th of March the Society was very pleased to welcome Christopher de Bellaigue who gave a lecture on the Islamic Enlightenment.  His talk delivered without notes or hesitation told the stories of individuals who promoted the modernisation of the Islamic world sparked by Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798 and the defeat of the Mamluk army. His erudite talk was punctuated with amusing anecdotes of the reception of modern ideas in Cairo, Istanbul and Tehran.  The lecture was very well attended and followed by lively discussion.

Christopher de Bellaigue

 

Our next event will be the Collections Open Evening on Tuesday 17th March. Starting at 6.30 this will be an opportunity to some of our Collections out on display and hear talks on recent work that has been carried out on them. Full details of the event can be found here.

And on Thursday 19th March Olivia Cox-Fill will be launching her new book Walking the Tightrope, which reflects on the life of Dr Wu Jieping. Full details can be found here. Both events are open to everyone but we ask that you would confirm attendance to Amy Riach at ar@royalasiaticsociety.org. We fully expect the events to take place, but if any last minute changes are required these will be posted on the website.