Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Code of Manu & Kitty Kirkpatrick

More digging around in Google Books. Both the things today have a slight Indian feel.

This first one comes in regard the ancient Hindu legal text known as the Manusmriti. I came across this in a book titled Sex and Race, Volume 3 by J. A. Rodgers. It recalls that upper castes were forbidden from marrying women with red or golden hair.

"The Code of Manu, one of the oldest law-books of the world forbade the marriage of a Brahman [..] with a Sudra, or artisan. [..] Manu also considered a woman who had red, or golden hair, inferior, and marriage with her by any of the three upper castes was forbidden".

This next, geographically-related bit of information comes from Sex and the Family in Colonial India: The Making of Empire by Durba Ghosh. It quotes Thomas Carlyle, who poetically describes the red-haired daughter of a mixed Anglo-Indian marriage.

[The] entry of a strangely-complexioned young lady, with soft brown eyes and floods of bronze-red hair, really a pretty-looking, smiling and amiable, though most foreign bit of magnificence and kindly splendour;...her birth, as I afterwards found, an Indian Romance, mother a sublime begum, father a ditto English official, mutually adoring, wedding, living withdrawn in their own private paradise, Romance famous in the East.

 - Thomas Carlyle, Reminiscences (1823)

The young lady was Katherine Kirkpatrick, "the daughter of James Achilles Kirkpatrick, resident of Hyderabad, and the Begum Khair-un-nissa, a noblewoman of the court at Hyderabad."

(Portrait of Katherine Kirkpatrick, ca. 1830)

(A rich-coloured portrait of Kitty with her
brother William - her red hair clearly visible)

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