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Throughout the first half of the sixteenth century, Portuguese officials in Goa, settler-merchants (casados) and various other foreign travellers and adventurers steadily provided bits and pieces about the ethnography of the gentile religion.7 In his Livro, Duarte Barbosa provided a minute description of the caste structure and its connection with religious rites of the societies encountered on the Malabar coast.8 Domingo Paes and Fernao Nunes gave fascinating accounts about state religious culture at the court of the kingdom ofVijayana-gara, situated at the heart of the Deccan plateau.9

Not all was expressed in words. The most formidable early pictorial account of Indian idolatry is found in the Códice Casanatense, a collection of seventy-six coloured drawings representing ethnographic scenes from Africa to China. It has been dated by Georg Schurhammer to around the 1540s. Besides purely secular themes at least eight of them can be identified as acts of religion. One depicts a chariot procession on the Konkan coast: a terrifying portrayal of a three-storey chariot full ofpeople pulled by half-naked men with mighty ropes. Under the wheels ofthe chariot lie scattered two bleeding dismembered bodies. These sacrifices became famous in all learned and casual descriptions ofHindu fanaticism. The famous Jaganath temple in Puri (Orissa) became especially notorious for this kind of practice (picture XLIII);10 hence, the English word 'Juggernaut'.11 An unavoidable topos in all representations of Indian paganism is the custom of sati: the burning of women on their husband's death pyre. In one Casanatense picture, there is a somewhat different custom in which a still-living woman and her dead husband are buried alive.12

The authorship of the Casanatense collection is still disputed, although recently scholars have agreed that it was painted by a Gujerati or a Deccani artist and the legends were written by two different Lusitanian literati in Goa.13 Who the patrons and the audience of these paintings were may not be easily answered. Whilst it has been suggested that it was the Jesuits who commissioned these images, if one closely examines the narrative content there is absolutely no mention of any proselytizing and conversion.

Whatever the case, the Jesuits accelerated and intensified the 'uncovering' of Indian 'paganism'. With a fine eye for detail and with superior theological

7 Loureiro, 'O Descobrimento da Civilizacao Indiana nas Cartas dos Jesuítas', pp. 107-25.

8 Barbosa, O Livro do Duarte Barbosa.

9 Rubies, Travel and ethnology in the Renaissance.

10 Matos (ed.), Imogens do Oriente no seculo XVI.

11 Yule and Burnell (eds.), Hobson-Jobson: a glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words, pp. 466-8.

12 Matos, Imagens, p. 83. 13 Mota, 'Codice Casanatense', pp. 34-46.

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