TREE AND SERPENT WORSHIP, by James Fergusson - 1873

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Tree and Serpent Worship: or Illustrations of Mythology and Art in India in the First and Fourth Centuries after Christ; from the Sculptures of the Buddhist Topes at Sanchi and Amravati

by James Fergusson

Second Edition - considered by some to be the best. London: India Museum, 1873.

This copy includes 100 plates (hand-counted), which include 53 Albumen plates and 2 maps. See below for details.

Hardback is overall in VERY GOOD condition.

  • Volume displays commensurate wear and aging, is intact inside and out, and is well preserved.
  • Green covers feature gilt illustration on front. 
  • Binding underwent professional repairs, as did first few pages. Hinges were professionally reinforced. Original binding was preserved.
  • Pages inside are well preserved, yet book throughout shows light evidence of minor water damage.
  • Plates appear to be free of water damage.
  • Inside pages are free of writing and intentional marks.
  • Text block edges have gilt along head, and display commensurate toning.
  • Boards display overall rubbing, scuffing and fading. Foot of front board is severely faded and a little warped.
  • Binding repairs are evident at shoulders, hinges, and colors of spine, shoulders and corners.
  • Corners are notably rubbed as well as lightly bumped, and boards are exposed on most areas along edges.
  • Spine features gilt, and shows moderate overall rubbing and fading. Foot of spine exhibits a small indentation going into publisher name. 
  • Illustration plates are well preserved and exhibit light overall wear and aging. (See photos)
  • Interior is gently age-toned, with occasional damp stains, mostly at corners, fingerprints and smudges. (See photos)
  • Book may exhibit additional minor signs of age or wear.
  • SC20190418

274 pages. 10 x 13.5 inches.

The volume delves deep into the intriguing world of religion and mythology India, basing on the beautiful Indian art and Buddhist sculptures. The reader will find an insightful guide to the principal mysteries of the Buddhist religion, as well as to the art of India, and how religious and mythological scenes have for centuries been represented through that art.

Many photos and drawings are by W.H. Griggs (1832-1911). A promoter of color photography at a time when it was rare and expensive, Griggs is acknowledged as the inventor of photo-chromo-lithography. He was technical assistant to the director of the Indian Museum at the beginning of his career, and later developed ways to reduce the cost of production for color work. He also became skillful in reproductions of old manuscripts and letterpress texts.

James S. Waterhouse (1842-1922), who had never used a camera before arriving in Calcutta, became so accomplished that he was ultimately named surveyor-general to the monumental Survey of India. Lt. Waterhouse is given credit for many of the photos. The frontispiece of Tree and Serpent Worship shows Waterhouse’s image of the Northern gateway to the Great Stupa at Sanchi.

Along with 20 photographs by Waterhouse, are 36 by Griggs, depicting Amravati sculptural fragments from the collection we now know as the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Book also contains wood engravings, some by W. Griggs. Most illustration plates have source attribution listed in the 3 pages of illustration contents pages.

 Second Edition, Revised, Corrected, and in great part Re-written. Complete with tipped-in postscript on page B2. Includes a separate preface to the first and second editions. 

AS IS! Please see photos. More photos available upon request.

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