Heinz Werner Wessler oldthww at HUM.AAU.DK
Mon Mar 23 18:44:16 UTC 1998

David D. Saran wrote:

> Fifteenth-century European travellers mention cannon (bombarda) and
> muskets in their accounts of the Deccan and Vijayanagar.  For these, see
> INDIA IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY, ed. R.H. Major.  Fifteenth century Persian
> chronicles also mention cannon.  The Kanhadeprabandha, an old Gujarati
> text recently translated into English, has references to "nalas flashing"
> in the darkness; the nala ("tube") might have been a type of gun (or
> perhaps a tube for spraying some sort of Greek fire).  This text was
> written in 1455.
> To my knowledge, no one has found contemporary sources that attest to the
> existence of gunpowder weapons in South Asia before 1400.
> On Fri, 20 Mar 1998, Mark F. Tritsch wrote:
> > Does anyone know when firearms (muskets and the like) were introduced
> > into India?
> >
> > Mark Tritsch

I may some more pieces of information (also referring to S.Krishna's
message on this topic):

Portuguese "defectors" formed part of the armies of Vijayanagara,
Bijapur, Ahmadnagar etc. from very early in the sixteenth century.
Their main value in warfare was their expertise in the use of
firearms. Pedro Alvares Cabral's account demonstrates, how Indian
rulers became convinced by the military efficiency of firearms very early
after the arrival of the Portuguese, especially for nautical enterprises.

As early as 1503 two Milanese connon makers, being
brought to India, switched over from the Portuguese to the famous
Zamorin (Samudri Raja). In 1506 already, the Zamorin's fleet
had been equipped with cannons and protectory measures
against artillery bombardment.

The "Asian cannon" has been in use in the 15th century, as David D.
Saran demonstrated, but their rather limited use was confined to land
warfare. Besides, there is no hint on cannons on bord of the Chinese exploration
fleets either. It was only after the arrival of the Portuguese in India and
European methods of casting that firearms became the decisive tool in
warfare. Compare Pearson, M.N., The Portuguese in India, Cambridge 1987
[= The new Cambridge history of India 1,1], p.57ff; Subrahmanyam,
Sanjay, The career and legend of Vasco da Gama, Cambridge 1997, p.111ff

Does anyone know, when and how "top" was introduced into North Indian
languages? To my knowledge, "top" doesn't occur in early bhakti
poetry, which doesn't prove much, however.

Kind regards, Heinz Werner Wessler
Dr.Heinz Werner Wessler
Indisk Afdeling, Aarhus Universitet
Bygn. 327, Ndr. Ringgade
DK-8000 Aarhus C

e-mail: oldthww at

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