The Sheep-eater exhibiting his powers at Fategarh in Uttar Pradesh on 3 March 1796 thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

The Sheep-eater exhibiting his powers at Fategarh in Uttar Pradesh on 3 March 1796

Painting
ca. 1800 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The pictures made by Indian artists for the British in India are called Company paintings. This one shows a famous sheep-eater exhibiting his powers at Fatehgarh, Uttar Pradesh, on 3 March 1796. Major-General Hardwicke saw the performance and read a paper on the subject many years later (in 1832) to the Royal Asiatic Society. The painting shows the various stages of sheep-eating starting on the right, though they are not in strict order. They are: 1. Holding the sheep in the mouth; 2. Tearing open the underside; 3. Drinking the blood; 4. Tearing the ribs out; 5. Tearing the throat out; 6. Devouring the hind quarters; 7. Eating a salad of caustic madar leaves. Sheep-eaters were Aghorîs, members of an extremist Hindu ascetic sect that refused to eat cooked meat.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Watercolour on paper
Brief Description
Painting; watercolour, the sheep-eater exhibiting his powers at Fategarh in Uttar Pradesh on 3 March 1796, Murshidabad, Calcutta, ca. 1800
Physical Description
THis painting depicts seven views of a man in a red dhoti eating a sheep.
Dimensions
  • Height: 37.5cm
  • Width: 49cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'Jura Geer Berah Geer the famous Sheep Eater from Surong near Kas-Gunge in the Farruckabad District at his breakfast' (Inscription; decoration; English; Roman; at top; ink)
  • '1. His first Position (lifting the sheep from the ground with his teeth). 2. His second Position (holding the sheep on its back). 3. Drinking the blood. 4. Tearing the ribs out. 5. Tearing the throat out. 6. Devouring the hind Quarters. 7. Eating the cautic Pl[ant] called the Madar as [a salad].' (Inscription; decoration; below; ink)
Historical context
The sheep-eater aroused great interest among a group of the more scholarly British in Upper India. An exhibition given by him at Fatehgarh was witnessed by Major-General Hardwicke on 3 March 1796. After his retirement Hardwicke read a paper on the subject to the Royal Asiatic Society on 21 July 1832 which was published and illustrated by a lithograph based on 'original sketches made on the spot by a native artist for Major-General Hardwicke the 3rd of March 1796'. A painting in oils on wood, dated July 1832, depicting the same incident was presented by him to the Royal Asiatic Society on 21 July 1832.
Production
By a Murshidabad artist, probably working in Calcutta
Subject depicted
Summary
The pictures made by Indian artists for the British in India are called Company paintings. This one shows a famous sheep-eater exhibiting his powers at Fatehgarh, Uttar Pradesh, on 3 March 1796. Major-General Hardwicke saw the performance and read a paper on the subject many years later (in 1832) to the Royal Asiatic Society. The painting shows the various stages of sheep-eating starting on the right, though they are not in strict order. They are: 1. Holding the sheep in the mouth; 2. Tearing open the underside; 3. Drinking the blood; 4. Tearing the ribs out; 5. Tearing the throat out; 6. Devouring the hind quarters; 7. Eating a salad of caustic madar leaves. Sheep-eaters were Aghorîs, members of an extremist Hindu ascetic sect that refused to eat cooked meat.
Bibliographic Reference
Archer, Mildred. Company Paintings Indian Paintings of the British period Victoria and Albert Museum Indian Series London: Victoria and Albert Museum, Maplin Publishing, 1992, 82-83 p. ISBN 0944142303
Collection
Accession Number
IS.11:15-1887

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record createdJanuary 19, 2000
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