Thursday, January 22, 2009

the art of sailing n making maps

hello friends,

i attended a talk by miss Samira Sheikh, who has been doing research on old Indian manuscripts.

she is the daughter of eminent Indian artists, Gulam Mahommad Sheikh and Nilima Sheikh.

This perticular talk of hers,was about her research on an ancient manuscript with navigation maps,which might have been used for navigation purposes. Though, this area is completly new to me, but i got to know about various interesting information regarding the techniques of navigation and map making...

she talked about this 14th century manuscript, which has discriptions of how to sail in the sea, how to judge the directions and how to avoid danger on sea on a perticular sea route. Amazingly, one of the discriptions talkes about measuring the distance between one cost to another by counting on the distance of one full stretch of your arms. Also, it talked about studying the constellations in the sky, and judging the directions at night. It also had information about how deep the water would be and where, on a particular route of sailing.

This manuscript belonges to around 14th century. At that time, no machines were invented to measure distances on sea routes. The sailors used their own sense of intution and some oral knowledge, which was coming to them from their ancestors. And just imagine, how it must have been for them to draw down the lines of territory, fully on the basis of their sailing experience! i mean that sense of judging territory , without any definate sourse!

Somehow i found this talk very interesting and amazing at the same time! Just imagine youself in that time, where no maps, no machines or even written material was available..and in that condition, to sail in a huge sea, from one cost to another....The senses of the sailors atthat time, must be so powerful..they could find a pattern in the positioning ofthe stars...they could judge their destination from the diresctions of the wind...

This perticular manuscript was even more interesting, because the text shared arabic as well as gujarati script. Here, the script was gujarati, but it was written in arabic manner- that which u have to start from left to right. Itindicates sharing of knowledge between different countries.

It is amazing to know, that even say before 600 years, human mind could do very well without machines. And could do buisness (may be better than today's) with his power of intuition and with his faith on nature!!