What is Hasti Vidyarnava?
Hasti-Vidyarnava or Hastividarnav is an ancient Assamese treatise on elephants or elephantology. It was composed by Sukumar Barkath in 1734 AD. Written under the orders of Ahom King Siba Singha, Hastividyarnava deals with classes or types of elephants, their management and care. Copied and illustrated on the bark of Agaru tree, Hastividyarnava is an unique book on elephants.
The book Hasti Vidyarnava contains details of different types of elephants in an elaborate taxonomic system. There are details on catching and training of elephants. Other topics covered in the book include suitable elephants for kings, suitable elephants for war, warning to riders and mahouts, ropes for elephants, rods for elephants, ailments of elephants and remedies etc. Hastividyarnava also contains several paintings or illustrations of elephants. The paintings were done by two artists from Rajasthan – Dilbor and Dosai. Those paintings are a good example a beautiful mixture of local Assamese art with Mughal style of painting. Hasti-Vidyarnava can also be called the oldest Assamese book dealing with science.
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