4 vols, folio; 286 (of 288) pls (2 pls missing in vol. III: "Kose" and "Polouar", foxing on some pages of text, edges of some ll. sl. soiled, closed tear on titel of v. IV).
Contemp. half black cloth, marbled paper boards, flat spines (somewhat worn and scratched, some caps lacking).
First edition. Amazing iconography: 286 large delicately hand-coloured plates engraved by the author after his drawings (incl. 36 engravings on double pages) facing bilingual explanation (French-English). Every vol. with a head-piece, a large coloured etching on title, and bilingual introductions. Vol. I is assigned to the caste system (which results in the description of many professions such as pastry cook, fisherman, carriers, ploughman, undertaker, hog-keeper...) and to religious customs. Vol. II to clothing (high and low castes, fakirs, sepoys, dancers...), to musicians and their instruments, and to various customs such as "sati" or sacrifice of widows by self-immolation. Volume III to means of transport (boats of which ceremonial boats, wheeled carriages, use of animals, palanquins...), various ways of smoking (10 pl.), etc. Volume IV to servants (function, clothing, distinctive signs ...), trees (tamarind, jackfruit...), agricultural economy (rice, sugar cane, cotton, indigo ...), animals (crocodile, orangutan, snake, birds and insects...) and various morphologies of men or women of castes. The first ed. with 250 plates was published under the English title "The Manners, Customs and Dresses of the Hindoos" in 1799. An attempt of 4to edition with 60 plates was published in 1808. This superb work is due to the Belgian Solvyns (Antwerp 1760-1824) who ruined his wife in this editorial enterprise. Ref. Abbey, Aquatint, 430. - Hardgrave, R.L.- Portrait of the Hindus. Balthazar Solvyns and the European Image of India 1760-1824. Oxford Univ. Press, 2004.
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