Edgar Thurston

Edgar Thurston

Edgar Thurston
CIE
Superintendent of the Government Museum, Chennai and Connemara Public Library
In office
1885–1908
Preceded by George Bidie
Succeeded by J. R. Henderson
Personal details
Born 1855
Died 1935
Profession Museum superintendent, zoologist, anthropologist
The title page of the first volume of Castes and Tribes of Southern India (1909).

Edgar Thurston CIE (1855-1935) was a superintendent at the Madras Government Museum who contributed to studies in the zoology, ethnology and botany of India and published works related to his work at the museum. Thurston was educated in medicine and lectured in anatomy at the Madras Medical College while also holding his position at the museum. His early works were on numismatics and geology and this was followed later by his researches in anthropology and ethnography. He succeeded Frederick S. Mullaly as the superintendent of ethnography for the Madras Presidency.[1]

Contents

  • Ethnography and geography 1
  • Botany and zoology 2
  • Works 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

Ethnography and geography

Among other published works, he wrote the seven volumes of Castes and Tribes of Southern India, which was a part of the Ethnographic Survey of India project to which he was appointed in 1901 following the success of Herbert Hope Risley's Ethnographic Survey of Bengal.[2] Risley was an adherent to the theories of scientific racism. He was appointed as director of Ethnology in India and Thurston worked under this project to collect accurate anthropometric measurements. These included a number of measurements of the skull and derived indices or proportions such as the nasal index.[3] Whereas early European ideas on phrenology were applied to identify mental traits of individuals, these more refined anthropometric measurements were applied to identify castes. Thurston gave lectures to the students of the Madras University and sometimes to the Madras Police on practical anthropology during the 1890s. Thurston believed that intelligence was inversely proportional to the breadth of the nose and claimed that he scrutinised this as well as handwriting when recruiting clerks in his office. Thurston trained the Madras Police in the use of anthropometry to criminal identification. The Bertillon system had already been incorporated in the Bengal and Madras Police departments by the 1890s and Thurston's training in anthropometry was intended to help the policy identify membership to what were then termed as "criminal castes".[1][4]

He was assisted in the writing of Castes and Tribes by a colleague from the museum, K. Rangachari, who had also assisted him in a 1906 ethnographic study, Ethnographic Notes in Southern India. Rangachari had supplied most of the forty photographs used in this earlier study.[2] The September 1910 edition of Nature described the work as

a monumental record of the varied phases of south Indian tribal life, the traditions, manners and customs of people. Though in some respects it may be corrected or supplemented by future research it will long retain its value as an example of out-door investigation, and will remain a veritable mine of information, which will be of value

Thurston was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind, first class, on 26 June 1902.[5]

Thurston authored the third volume The Madras Presidency, with Mysore Coorg, and the associated States of the four volume series "Provincial Geographies of India" which was published between 1913-23 from the Cambridge University Press under the editorship of Thomas Henry Holland.

Botany and zoology

Thurston made numerous collections of plant and animals specimens. Many of these were sent to the British Museum and some species have been named after him.

Some marine organisms named after him include: Manaria thurstoni (E.A. Smith, 1906), Sepia thurstoni (W. Adam & W. J. Rees, 1966), Mobula thurstoni (Lloyd, 1908), Ecteinascidia thurstoni (Herdman, 1890).[6]

Works

  • Thurston, Edgar (1888). Coins — Catalogue No. 1: Mysore. Madras: Government Central Museum. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar (1888). Catalogue of the Batrachia, Salientia and Apoda (Frogs, Toads, and Coecilians) of Southern India. Madras: Government Press. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar (1889). Coins — Catalogue No. 3: Sultans of Dehlı́. Madras: Government Central Museum. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar (1992) [1890 Madras: Government Central Museum]. History of the coinage of the territories of the East India company in the Indian peninsula and catalogue of the coins in the Madras museum (Reprinted ed.). New Delhi: Asian Educational Services.  
  • Thurston, Edgar (1890). Notes on the pearl and chank fisheries and marine fauna of the Gulf of Manaar. Madras: Government Central Museum. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar (1894). Coins — Catalogue No. 2: Roman, Indo-Portuguese, and Ceylon (2nd ed.). Madras: Government Central Museum. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar (1894). "Pearl and Chank Fisberies of the Gulf of Manaar". Bulletin (Madras: Madras Government Museum) (1). Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar (1896). "Anthropology of the Todas and Kotas of the Nilgiri Hills : and of the Bráhmans, Kammálans, Pallis, and Pariahs of Madras City". Bulletin (Madras: Madras Government Museum) (4). Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar (2004) [1896 Madras: Government Central Museum]. "Kadirs Of Anaimarais — Malaialis Of Shevaroys — The Dravidian Head — Dravidian Problem". Bulletin (Reprinted ed.) (New Delhi: Asian Educational Services) 2 (3).  
  • Thurston, Edgar (1899). Monograph on the silk fabric industry of the Madras presidency. Madras: Government Press. 
  • Thurston, Edgar (1900). "Anthropology: Notes on some of the people of Malabar — Mala Vedars of Travancore — Miscellenea". Bulletin (Madras: Madras Government Museum) 3 (1). Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar (1901). Monograph on the ivory carving industry of Southern India.. Madras: Government Press. 
  • Thurston, Edgar (1903). "Anthropology: Visions of the Uralis and Sholagars — More Marriage Customs in Southern India — Hook-Swinging — Paliyans". Bulletin (Madras: Madras Government Museum) 5 (1). Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar (1906). Ethnographic Notes in Southern India. Madras: Government Press. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar; Rangachari, K. (1909). Castes and Tribes of Southern India. I (A and B). Madras: Government Press. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar; Rangachari, K. (1909). Castes and Tribes of Southern India. II (C to J). Madras: Government Press. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar; Rangachari, K. (1909). Castes and Tribes of Southern India. III (K). Madras: Government Press. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar; Rangachari, K. (1909). Castes and Tribes of Southern India. IV (K to M). Madras: Government Press. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar; Rangachari, K. (1909). Castes and Tribes of Southern India. V (M to P). Madras: Government Press. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar; Rangachari, K. (1909). Castes and Tribes of Southern India. VI (P to S). Madras: Government Press. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar; Rangachari, K. (1909). Castes and Tribes of Southern India. VII (T to Z). Madras: Government Press. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar (1912). Omens and Superstitions of Southern India. New York: McBride, Nast & Company. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar (1913). Holland, T. H., ed. The Madras Presidency, with Mysorg, Coorg and the Associated States. Provincial Geographies of India 3. Cambridge: University Press. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  • Thurston, Edgar; Vigurs, Chambré C. (1922). A Supplement to F. Hamilton Davey's Flora of Cornwall. Truro: Royal Institution of Cornwall. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b Daniel, EV and J.M.Peck (1996). Culture/Contexture: Explorations in Anthropology and Literary Studies. University of California Press. pp. 281–286. 
  2. ^ a b Vundru, Raja Sekhar (24 January 2010). "Mosaic of communities". The Hindu. Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  3. ^ Bates, Crispin (1995). "Race, Caste and Tribe in Central India: the early origins of Indian anthropometry". In Robb, Peter. The Concept of Race in South Asia. Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 238–240.  
  4. ^ Pels, P & O Salemink (2000). Colonial Subjects: Essays on the Practical History of Anthropology. University of Michigan Press. pp. 163–167. 
  5. ^ The India List and Office List. India Office. 1905. p. 172. Retrieved 2011-11-11. 
  6. ^ "Biographical Etymology of Marine Organism Names: T and U". Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "'"Author Query for 'E.Thurst..  

Further reading

  • Vidyarthi, Lalita Prasad (1978). Rise of Anthropology in India: A Social Science Orientation: A Social Science Orientation 1. Concept Publishing Company. 

External links