1788: First and finest scholarly journal devoted to Asia
or, Transactions of the Society, instituted in Bengal, for inquiring into the History and Antiquities, the Arts, Sciences, and Literature, of Asia. Volumes 1-12. Calcutta Manuel Cantopher (I-II); T. Watley (III); the Honorable Company's Press (IV-VI, VIII); the Hircarrah Press, by Thomas Hollingbery (VII); Thomas Hubbard, at the Hindoostanee Press (IX-XI); Calcutta Gazette Office (XII) 1788-1816
First edition, twelve volumes, 4to, in total 6,230 pages, 153 plates and maps. A very good set uniformly bound in full contemporary calf, neatly rebacked. Volumes 2-12 bear the bookplate of William van Mildert, last Prince-Bishop of Durham and one of the founders of the University of Durham; Volume 1 has the bookplate of Milton [Hall], Peterborough, seat of the Earls Fitzwilliam.
Printing and the Mind of Man, 235
The journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal was founded by Sir William Jones, High Court Judge and pioneering orientalist, in 1784. It holds the distinction of being the first learned journal ever published to be devoted specifically to Asian studies. Just as the Asiatic Society of Bengal was the model for all such learned societies established in South Asia and beyond– Bombay, Dacca, Colombo, Singapore - and indeed for the Royal Asiatic Society in London itself, so Asiatick researches became the template for all future journals of these societies and similar bodies. In that sense, it may be said to have contributed significantly to the creation of the concept of modern Asian studies. Its wide-ranging contents reflect the aims of the Society to investigate "the history, civil and natural, the antiquities, arts, sciences, and literature of Asia", in an age of unbounded optimism and self-belief that within "the geographical limits of Asia " a single Society could embrace "whatever is performed by man or produced by nature". The contents of these twelve volumes are staggering in their diversity, covering historical and comparative linguistics, epigraphy, numismatics, architecture and art history, religious studies (Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Sikh, and Malabar Christian), music, literature, Hindu and Islamic law, geography and travel, games, population studies, ethnology and castes, agriculture, trades and occupations, history, astronomy, mathematics, horology, mechanics, weights and measures, botany and zoology, chemistry, geology and mineralogy, diseases and medicine, economic products and their manufacture. Although predominantly covering greater India, the papers range from Arabia and Iran through mainland and island Southeast Asia to Central Asia and China. The timespan of these twelve volumes can be seen as a bridge between the age of the Enlightenment and the Romantic era, witness Jones' own lyrical description of his pet lemur in volume 4.