mewafarosh

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mewafarosh

Postby jf42 » 11 Aug 2014 23:36

In 1849 Harry Lumsden of the Guides wrote to his colleague William Hodson discussing the uniform to be chosen for their regiment. In his letter he expresses his sense of rivalry with green-clad rifle regiments in the Frontier Field Force: "It won't to do to be done by Greens like Coke's Rifles and Forbe's mewafaroshes."

I understand that 'mewafarosh' is a reference to a fruit seller but I have yet to find in any index reference to a commander named Forbes in the Punjab of 1849 nor information on a regiment with such a nickname. Can anyone enlighten me?
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Re: mewafarosh

Postby Mark » 12 Aug 2014 10:47

The only military commander of the time by the name I can think of was Sir John Forbes, but he was of the 3rd (Bombay) Light Cavalry.

I think mewafarosh might be a form of abuse, and that Hodson was referring to a regiment that wore green in a deogratory manner. The Kunjra clan were a people of the Muslim faith, and the word 'Kunjra' developed into an abusive term, after which people of the clan referred to themselves as 'Mewa-farosh' or 'Sabzi-farosh', since they primarily existed by trading in vegtables and fruit. No doubt mewafarosh was then also used when trying to offend.

Of course I stand to be corrected, but the above are my first thoughts.

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Re: mewafarosh

Postby jf42 » 12 Aug 2014 11:04

Yes, I am sure your reasoning is correct. I am hoping members of the forum with knowledge of this subject might be able to comment on whether the 3rd Bombay Light Cavalry wore green and whether they served in the Punjab circa 1849.
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Re: mewafarosh

Postby mike snook » 12 Aug 2014 15:36

This from James Fairweather who served with the 4th Punjab Infantry of the PIF in this period.

'The 1st Punjab Infantry alone wore rifle green and was visible at a distance'. [Ironically].

In context, he is specifically talking of the PIF infantry regiments at this point, and a few sentences earlier states that all the others wore khaki. 1st PI was also known as Coke's Rifles. So, jf, you begin, I fear, from an erroneous assumption. Whoever he's talking about, they are not riflemen. I conclude the answer must likely rest with the regiments of Punjab Cavalry in the PIF. Some form of scouts or constabulary unit is not impossible, but let's stick with the Punjab Cavalry hypothesis to begin with....who are after all a bit closer to 'home', for Lumsden that is, than the Bombay Light Cavalry....

Cornet 'H' (don't know...Harry/Henry is always a good bet) Forbes was the then Lieutenant Henry Daly's adjutant, (later General Sir Henry Daly of course), when he began raising the 1st Punjab Cavalry (PIF), over the period May 1849-1850-ish. It is my reading that Daly joined Forbes at Peshawar, not the other way round, where Forbes had already made some sort of start. Forbes left the newly formed regiment for other duties in April 1851. Where he went between then and 1857 I cannot say, but by March 1857 he was in an Oudh Irregular Infantry Regiment. By then Daly was CO of the 1st Oudh Irregular Cavalry. When Lumsden left the Guides, Daly succeeded him and arranged that the by now Captain Forbes, with whom he had always been great chums, would succeed him in command of 1st Oudh. They mutinied, as did all the Oudh corps I seem to recall, so that Forbes I know was in the siege at Lucknow. I haven't checked whether he lived or not or what became of him, as it's not immediately pertinent, but it should be easy enough to pick up his trail at Lucknow.

He seems a good candidate. Given the date of the Lumsden letter which, jf, you state as 1849, (additional info on month would be useful), it is possible that he is referring to the dress of the first recruits to the 1st Punjab Cavalry, assembled prior to Lumsden's arrival at Peshawar. I think Coke's Rifles were raised at the same time and place. It is possible, then, that at first the cavalry recruits wore the same cloth as Coke's infanteers, until Daly arrived and designed and commissioned a regimental pattern alkaluk. I can't immediately put my finger on what colour 1st PC's alkaluk was, (irritatingly I have a B&W picture in front of me!), but in some sense it doesn't matter if it was some other colour than green, if, as I hypothesise, the 1st PC recruits were clad in green kurtas or similar frontier style clothing at first assembly under Forbes.

I'll keep an eye out for the 1st PC alkaluk colour as I go and advise subsequently, but for the present, as I say, I'm not sure that it matters one way or the other, if the date of the Lumsden letter fits the postulation described. Incidentally by October 1849 Daly was already reporting his regiment as being 'regularly clothed and uniformly appointed', so he didn't hang around (presumably the reason why, as a man of notable energy, he got the job.)

How's that? Hold water from your end or not?

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Re: mewafarosh

Postby jf42 » 12 Aug 2014 18:28

Dr Mike, I assume nothing! The very idea- nothing, that is, other than that 'Forbes' mewafaroshes' were green-clad as intimated in Lumsden's reference to 'Greens' and that the epithet was amiably pejorative, as Mark suggested.

The letter is dated 4th July 1849.

I held no particular brief for the Bombay Light Cavalry. As you say, they were not, on the face of it, in Lumsden's parish. They did however have a Forbes when Forbes were proving to be rather thin on the ground. Your Forbes does look a more likely candidate if he was, as it seems, minding the 1st Punjab Cavalry shop before Daly arrived in Peshawar.

I am not so sure, though, about the new 1st Punjab sowars being clad in Coke's rifle green as a stopgap. Do you think the saintly Coke would have been so liberal with his expensive green cloth? Time may tell.

The indications are that the 1st Punjab Cavalry wore regimental alkaluks of blue, at least later in the century. Whether that was related to their being given the title of Prince Albert Victor's Own in 1890- the blue facings of a royal regiment and all that?- and they wore another colour- green, say- earlier, I am not equipped to say.

Sowar, 1st Punjab Cavalry.jpg
Sowar, 1st Punjab Cavalry.jpg (108.83 KiB) Viewed 961 times


sowars,1st Punjab Cav 1887 (Simkin 1890s).jpg
sowars,1st Punjab Cav 1887 (Simkin 1890s).jpg (75.75 KiB) Viewed 961 times


All that remains is the origin of the nickname. I now notice that in Peter's scan here:
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=9394
-of the Cadell article The Beginnings of Khaki, (JSAHR, Vol XXXI, 1953, Autumn, No. 127) he has redacted two pages so that the text leaps from a reference to 'Forbes' mewafaroshes" to the tantalising phrase "who came in large numbers to sell fruit in the plains of India." The answer may lie right there. So, Peter, if you are following this, I hope you can put us- me- out of my misery.The British Library will be out of reach for a while.
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Re: mewafarosh

Postby mike snook » 12 Aug 2014 19:23

Hmmm.... Daly received news of his appointment at the end of May (the letter itself was dated 24 May). I am unclear where he was at the time, but if it took him a month to move then it is not inconceivable that Lumsden might still be referring to the new cavalry regiment as Forbes's on 4 July. I'll sniff around a bit more.

M

PS By the way I don't believe Coke's were clad in expensive green cloth, but in inexpensive local kurtas dyed green.
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Re: mewafarosh

Postby jf42 » 12 Aug 2014 19:56

Maybe he was writing off-hand, with a slightly out-of-date image in his head. They had after all been "Forbes' " when the nickname was coined and the sense of rivalry engendered.

The 4th July letter is also quite excitable in tone:

"...We shall have all sorts of people looking at us and it won't do to be [out]done by Greens like Coke's Rifles or Forbes' mewafaroshes. We must do them all brown!!!"

Nonetheless, this is interesting. The sense of change and novelty in the air is palpable.
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Re: mewafarosh

Postby Peter » 13 Aug 2014 05:57

the origin of the nickname

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Re: mewafarosh

Postby jf42 » 13 Aug 2014 08:57

Bingo!

Many thanks, Peter
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Re: mewafarosh

Postby mike snook » 13 Aug 2014 14:31

For my next trick, I intend to spend a couple of hours solving the Ripper murders....

[No, not really!].

I believe now, after a bit more sniffing about, that the first pukka alkaluks of 1st Punjab Cavalry, (after their natty black-green kurtas that is), designed by Daly in person no doubt, were indeed blue. Hamilton (as I now know him to be, thank you Peter) Forbes was wounded in the siege of Lucknow, how badly, and whether or not he served on afterwards or was invalided out, I cannot presently say. But as it's even less pertinent now to the query, I'm going to leave his trail there.

Raised on TV images of that part of the world, few people today realise that Southern Afghanistan was once a bounteous fruit growing area. There would obviously have been a substantial cross border trade in fruit in operation in the 1840s/50s period (and for many decades afterwards). The harsh desert conditions of today are in some large part attributable to the fact that the Russian combat engineers filled in the irrigation channels, on an industrial scale, to prevent their being used for cover by the mujahadeen. It didn't do them much good anyway, but it certainly destroyed the fruit trade. Now where once there were orchards of fruit trees, there are dusty fields of Papaver somniferum.

The black-green thing is interesting. As I've observed before, there is the odd remark lying about in the usual secondary literature, (some of which is a bit suspect in places), to the effect that Coke's Rifles wore an 'indigo' uniform in the early days. Usually an obscure observation of this kind is not dreamt up and is traceable to at least one primary source. Now indigo is very decidedly a blue, not a green. I'm guessing, though, that a cloth which was more substantially black than green might indeed fade, as a result of prolonged exposure to a harsh sun and the odd encounter with the dhobi-wallah, to a shade not unlike a blue. That said, I've never personally encountered this indigo allusion in the context of a pukka primary source (which of course is not to say that it (or indeed they) don't exist, merely that it seems likely to be a bit obscure if it does. So it is interesting that in Lumsden's (the earliest?) reference to this clothing, it is once again an uncaveated green. In the literature of Delhi Ridge, (by which time Coke's Rifles was eight years old), there is an irritating general avoidance of the subject of uniform, with the result that one has to work hard to get to the bottom of anything. Even so, where Coke's is mentioned at all, it is in a green uniform, not an 'almost black' one, an 'indigo' one, a very dark blue' or any other variation on a theme. I think from memory that I have encountered three such references to green, (but don't ask me to cite them as I didn't record them, merely noted them mentally en passant for my own objects). Coke's, I can say with confidence, (and can readily enough cite evidence for), was equipped with Brunswick Rifles, whereas other PIF regiments carried percussion muskets. It follows that conceptually it was meant to sit squarely in the 'rifles' role/style/tradition, to which end a pukka rifle green outfit, (albeit in local frontier style - more a kurta than a tunic), would have been vital to the regiment's credibility or more specifically to Major John Coke's credibility amongst his PIF friends and rivals. He was, by the way, an excellent officer by all accounts. So to my point(s)....first, I have never seen a bona fide primary reference to 'indigo' and would love to have it drawn to my attention if it exists. Second....I hypothesise that Coke would likely have been hopping mad if a uniform meant to be rifle green (Lumsden's testimony refers) had either turned out more black than green or went blue in the wash. Third....I would observe that he had 8 years between mid-1849 and mid-1857 to find a formula which really did leave him with pukka rifle green kurtas on Delhi Ridge (an outcome supported by the three references to which I referred earlier).

It is worth adding that 'rifle green' is of course a very dark colour anyway, even more so when seen at a distance against the background of a dusty (or relatively light coloured) frontier hillside. To all intents and purposes such distant figures would appear black to the observer (including to the enemy). The nickname cited by what's-his-name (Peter's man) could have been conceived by the hostile clans and thence have crept into common usage in the various bazaars of the Punjab. In other words it might not be a reflection of something which was literally true. Additionally, we would be mistaken, I fancy, if we imagined for a moment that the adoption of a green (and certainly not a black) uniform was in any sense meant to serve as a form of camouflage. Rather, it was meant to convey the fact that the First Regiment had been cast in the rifle role/tradition and was more elite, (yah boo sucks to you blokes over there), than the rest of the riff-raff in the 2nd to 5th Punjab Infantry.

This for a bit of mischievous kicking about....Presumably it can be established definitely, can it (question mark), that the Guides wore local cotton kurtas in 'khaki', (the practice not the colour), at first raising, prior to the arrival of Lumsden's specially (and extravagantly) acquired drab cloth of the 'Guides shade'. If they didn't, (or it can't be proved), then the Guides wouldn't have been the first into khaki after all! That distinction, (such as it is), would fall instead to 2nd Punjab Infantry, (or actually, since they were all formed at the same time as far as I can see, to the 2nd-5th PI collectively), but definitely not Coke's or the Guides. Certainly the orders for the raising of these PI regiments pre-date Lumsden's anxious enquiry to Hodson about progress by a margin of some months, and it was a damned long way to England (for the mail) and back (for the cloth). Again, if they didn't, and were just clad in 'native' clothes, as newly raised regiments of Punjab Horse were in the Mutiny for example, then even Fordyce and the 74th in South Africa (1851) might have beaten the Guides into khaki (!), albeit not perhaps the PIF as a collective.

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Re: mewafarosh

Postby Frogsmile » 13 Aug 2014 20:36

mike snook wrote:It is worth adding that 'rifle green' is of course a very dark colour anyway, even more so when seen at a distance against the background of a dusty (or relatively light coloured) frontier hillside. To all intents and purposes such distant figures would appear black to the observer (including to the enemy). The nickname cited by what's-his-name (Peter's man) could have been conceived by the hostile clans and thence have crept into common usage in the various bazaars of the Punjab. In other words it might not be a reflection of something which was literally true. Additionally, we would be mistaken, I fancy, if we imagined for a moment that the adoption of a green (and certainly not a black) uniform was in any sense meant to serve as a form of camouflage. Rather, it was meant to convey the fact that the First Regiment had been cast in the rifle role/tradition and was more elite, (yah boo sucks to you blokes over there), than the rest of the riff-raff in the 2nd to 5th Punjab Infantry.

M


This paragraph appears particularly pertinent Mike, in that there seem to me to be parallels with jf42's epic search for the origins of colour fast khaki, as I understand that at around the same period similar problems were occurring with 'rifle green'. There were apparently real difficulties with achieving a consistent dark green dye suitable for the rifle regiments in the 1880s-90s. So much so was this a problem, that for a period the undress uniform issued to the KRRC and RB was black.

Given that the efforts of Cokes Rifles considerably predate this, it seems to me quite likely, especially with your quotations above, that a black tinted green was used and created from crude dyestuffs that, as you have pointed out, would have faded to a blue shade in the sun and dust. It was apparently not until after 1902 that a satisfactory dark green dye was found that enabled undress uniforms in a proper shade of dark (rifle) green to be procured and issued (ironically just as khaki service dress was coming in to vogue).
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Re: mewafarosh

Postby jf42 » 13 Aug 2014 23:35

mike snook wrote:Presumably it can be established definitely, can it (question mark), that the Guides wore local cotton kurtas in 'khaki', (the practice not the colour), at first raising, prior to the arrival of Lumsden's specially (and extravagantly) acquired drab cloth of the 'Guides shade'. If they didn't, (or it can't be proved), then the Guides wouldn't have been the first into khaki after all! That distinction, (such as it is), would fall instead to 2nd Punjab Infantry, (or actually, since they were all formed at the same time as far as I can see, to the 2nd-5th PI collectively), but definitely not Coke's or the Guides. Certainly the orders for the raising of these PI regiments pre-date Lumsden's anxious enquiry to Hodson about progress by a margin of some months, and it was a damned long way to England (for the mail) and back (for the cloth). Again, if they didn't, and were just clad in 'native' clothes, as newly raised regiments of Punjab Horse were in the Mutiny for example, then even Fordyce and the 74th in South Africa (1851) might have beaten the Guides into khaki (!), albeit not perhaps the PIF as a collective.


There are two parallel threads of narrative here, albeit with very few clear contemporary references regarding the dress of the early Guides.

One thread deals with references to cloth ordered from England. The other deals with references to what the Guides were actually wearing while that order failed to arrive.

George Hodson, writing in 1859, intimates that an order for drab clothing for 900 was placed as a sequel to his brother's request for 'a brace of leather helmets' in May 1848 and a year later, in July 1849, Lumsden clearly thought this order was in the pipeline when he asked Hodson if he has "heard anything of the cloth for our men from home or for our own uniforms." In that letter he provides the first apparent reference to the possible colour of the cloth with his declaration that "We must do them brown"- I say 'apparent' because 'doing brown' was a slang phrase for 'to show up' or 'get one over' so it is possible that he was making a play on words but possibly not. The reason for that grain of doubt being the first unequivocal reference to the colour of the uniforms that come from October 1849, when Lumsden sent a further, more impatient enquiry to Hodson, asking for details of when, and with whom, the order had been put and then declared:
"I have made up my mind to have all the cavalry and infantry in mud-colour."

This is either reflects a late decision to clothe both Guides infantry and cavalry in 'drab'- or that the colour of the cloth ordered had not been specified. Hodson's brother George is not an entirely reliable witness. His figure of cloth sufficient for 900 might be retrospective, so the picture here is a little muddy. Dusty. Whatever.

We can conclude, however, that sometime after May 1848 cloth was being sought from an English source to provide uniforms for 900 Guides and 2 officers. We don't know when exactly or where the order was put or whether this was for cotton or wool, though at that time 'cloth' did generally refer to wool rather than cotton and other fabrics. We don't know why it was thought necessary to source the cloth in England though quality is one obvious reason, given Lumsden's desire to out-do Coke's and Forbes' Regiments in smartness. Lumsden himself wrote in January 1848, mourning the loss of some cherished blankets, "In these far countries it is next to impossible to get anything decent."

We might also conclude that, since quality was a likely objective, this cloth was to provide a full dress uniform for the Guides- and their officers. It is also possible that the colour of the cloth had not been specified when it was ordered.

Meanwhile the Guides had been on active duty for almost two years. We have a secondary reference, in Trotter's biography of Hodson, to the Guides having no uniform in 1848 and wearing their native dress instead. By contrast, Lumsden's brother writing in 1899, gives us the 'mudlarks' story from December 1848 and a general statement that the Guides at this time were known as the 'khakis' because of their dust-coloured clothing- while Coke's were known as the sial posh - 'the dark coats.'

So, were the Guides parading and taking the field in mufti or had there been an initiative to stain native dress a more or less uniform 'khaki' to aid in their scouting? Certainly irregulars campaigning in their own clothing was nothing unusual so, if Lumsden's brother's references to 'mudlarks' and 'khakis' fifty years after the event are reliable, there had to be something out of the ordinary to merit comment.

Meanwhile, Lumsden senior was writing in February 1850: "When our cloth arrives we shall be the most smashing looking regiment in the army" and added in a further letter a few days later that "the cloth will be rather expensive", specifiying this was for "suits of mud colour." So the drab English cloth, having yet to arrive, was not the reason for comments on the Guides' appearance.

Despite this, Lumsden was able proudly to report that the C-in-C had just acknowledged, a little guardedly perhaps, that whatever the Guides were wearing while on the expedition to Kohat just ended, it was "not a bad colour for work," apparently adding that the Guides were "the only properly dressed light troops he has seen in India." Not so guarded, then.

The concluding evidence comes from Hodson who, having been posted away from the Guides, reminisced affectionately in March 1850: "If you could but see my rough and ready boys with their dirt-coloured clothes and their swarthy faces, waiting for a Sikh..."

I am still digesting all this but I think the cloth from home may well be a red herring in determining in what clothes the Guides took the field in the early years. In due course they may have received cloth for Full Dress uniforms from England and this may have been an expensive one-off. The tradition of the Guides dying their own uniforms would suggest that this was so. Meanwhile, it seems likely they were already taking the field in their own clothing stained "to make them invisible in a land of dust." To what extent we might call that 'uniform' is open to debate.

One thing is certain. In March 1851, Lord Dalhousie, the Governor General, following a visit to Peshawar and an inspection of the Guides, wished to be communicated to Lumsden how much he had admired, "The smart, active and soldier-like appearance of the corps." Perhaps the cloth from England had arrived.

As we have seen, by 1849, Coke's and Forbes' Regiments seem already to have been wearing a form of uniform in the form of their green or green-black clothing. The other Punjab regiments appear to have been lagging behind. Young Luther Vaughan joing the 5th Punjab regiment in the summer of 1850 from a smart HEIC regiment found,"The change to the rougher and as yet un-uniformed Sikh and Pathan was distasteful to me." Under Coke's tutelage he came round.

"I had assimilated many of Coke’s ideas, and seen how necessary it was to clothe and drill soldiers with and eye to the work they have to perform. The unfitness of pedantically clothed and drilled men to do effective work in the rough stony hills of the frontier had come to me."
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Re: mewafarosh

Postby mike snook » 14 Aug 2014 12:58

JF

Very interesting. Brilliant exposition of the evidence, if I may say: in particular I find Vaughan's reference, which I have not seen before, to an as yet un-uniformed 5th Regiment a compelling piece of evidence (certainly in terms of my last paragraph above). I agree that the cloth from England looks distinctly like a red-herring, for the reason that it had evidently been preceded by an active use in the field of locally dyed khaki clothing. Hence the Guides are clearly not pipped at the post by anybody else and seem to be part of a universal dress code, indeed to be the exemplar, for the PIF infantry as a collective corps of regiments; (save of course in the case of Coke's where, for whatever reason, the rifles tradition proved attractive enough to adopt). I think that there is a compelling case for the notion that the English cloth ordered by Lumsden was intended for the dress uniform of the Guides. I fancy that it is relevant that frontier conditions or not, this was still the age of the grand annual inspection by a general officer and that commanding officers' names could be made or broken by how well their regiment looked on parade. Also there is also what one might term the 'peacock' tradition of the cavalry arm to consider, a fashion as eagerly followed in India as in England. Cavalry had to glitter, whether regular or irregular. If one looks even at the earliest patterns of alkaluk in the Punjab Cavalry Regiments of the PIF, or those of the Bengal Irregular Cavalry Regiments, whose formation in many, if not most, cases preceded that of the PIF cavalry, one sees a very determined effort to 'dress to impress', including fancy lace for the officers of both ethnicities, early patterns of spiked helmets with horse hair plumes for the European officers, (think Dragoon Guards but without the heavy metal of their particular helmet), and those characteristic very long riding boots for all ranks. There was no messing about with khaki in these regiments. Even in the Mutiny, (height of summer to begin with), 2nd Punjab Cavalry are trotting about in red alkaluks, 1st PC in blue and 5th PC in some other colour which doesn't immediately come to me, or particularly matter for the present. It is in the very newly formed Punjab cavalry, primarily the very large body of 'Hodson's Horse', which later evolved into two or three regiments, that we see khaki (the process not the colour) being worn. It was set off, as far as I can see, with red sashes and turbans, in pursuit, I don't doubt, of at least passing lip-service to the peacock effect. These were of course items which were quick and easy of adoption in wartime, unlike regimental pattern alkaluks which, until the crisis was over, would have been an impossible nut to crack. Now back to Lumsden in 1849/50....he too had a body of cavalry to think about, in the 'combi-arm' (made-up word!) Corps of Guides, so I fancy he would want them to be a match in peacock terms for any other other body of cavalry in the PIF....for which effect he needed pukka woolen cloth....with the difference that he would do it in that very distinctive colour of buff-brown-grey associated with the Guides ever since. The peacock quotient was boosted by the adoption of red as a facing colour.

It is, I agree, likely, (in fact I would put it up in the 'almost certain' bracket), that the distinctive English cloth had arrived and was worn for the March 51 Dalhousie inspection to which you refer.

..I shall have to break off now to go and undertake a short mission... so I apologise if there is some poor editing on display when I post...and I'm not ignoring the rifle green side of things Frogsmile. All very interesting.

Au revoir not goodbye,

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Re: mewafarosh

Postby jf42 » 14 Aug 2014 21:37

All work in progress here.

Is there a possibility that Lumsden and others simply said the cloth of uniforms was "green" when it was actually near to black because in their heads they knew was meant to be green, specifically 'Rifle Green'? Of course, everybody knew it was more or less black and, after all, the syndrome of referring to Rifle regiments' near-black uniforms as 'Rifle-Green' did last an unconscionable time. It is almost as if there was an ritual element to it.

I mean, look how long soldiers' red coats were referred to as red when they were mostly orangey brown. I'm sure there must be other examples of the English idiosyncratic attitude to colour. Hunting 'pink', anyone?

All the best for your mission, Dr Mike.
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Re: mewafarosh

Postby mike snook » 14 Aug 2014 22:10

Back...mission accomplished...

You see the trouble is, jf, (frogsmile too), I have never seen this purported indigo reference...only several perfectly ordinary and clearcut references to 'green', including now Lumsden's which of course dates right from the start of the PIF. A description doesn't come any more emphatic than 'green', even if it's not a helpfully nuanced one, such as we would obviously prefer from a range of a century and a half. So while I leave the road open to the possibility of a blackish local cloth (with a hint of green) fading and turning 'indigo', as discussed formerly, I sort of can't really put any faith in the postulation until I see the original primary reference to the indigo malarkey. Then again, it sort of has the ring of something that wouldn't typically just get made up. On the other hand, you might recall that we looked on another thread at that western journalist of today, in local kurta type garb, when I think I remarked that it was a very typical colour for that part of the world, and then might or might not also have added (can't remember, doesn't matter), that 'indigo' would pass muster as a fair descriptor for it. You will know yourselves how such hares can be set running and be kept running for decades by subsequent publications.

There is, I seem to recall, a print of Coke's in the early days, wearing an obviously dark uniform, but in a black and white format, the only way I have ever clapped eyes on it, so that doesn't really get us very far, when its so-called 'rifle green' (possibly, not certainly), that is, or might be, at stake. It certainly substantiates the local nickname for Coke's, albeit, as I say, from a distance, and over jezail sights, green would be black anyway and might conceivably account for the nickname.

I have a print of an early Guides Infantry wallah (this chap is of Gurkha extraction) which might help inform your enquiries, jf, which I'll shrink and stick up now....

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Dr Mike Snook MBE psc
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mike snook
Honorary Academic Advisor
 
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Joined: 19 Jun 2008 09:35

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