Inscriptions of Gopaksetra: Materials for the History of Central India.

Author:Talbot, Cynthi

By MICHAEL D. WILLIS. London: BRITISH MUSEUM PRESS, 1996. Pp. 144, 25 black-and-white photos, 3 maps. [pounds]25.

This attractively packaged and printed book is a catalogue of inscriptions from the region formerly known as Gopaksetra, defined as the current districts of Gwalior, Bhind, Morena, Shivpuri, Guna, and portions of Jhansi and Datia. Its approximately one thousand entries identify and describe over nine hundred inscriptions ranging in date from the ninth through the early twentieth centuries of the common era. They are arranged in five chapters according to the system of dating employed - Vikrama era, Saka era, Hijra era, miscellaneous other eras, or undated. The book also contains three maps showing where the inscriptions are situated and a site-index that enables readers to find all entries in the book pertaining to a single location. Several pages of photographs at the very end display a few inscriptions and/or the objects and structures upon which they are inscribed.

By bringing together all previous reports on existing inscriptions in one volume, this book offers a comprehensive perspective on the epigraphic history of the Gwalior area. That is its main contribution, for Inscriptions of Gopaksetra is based almost entirely on earlier scholarship rather than on new research in the field or a fresh examination of the original sources. It also makes available to a larger audience the descriptive accounts contained in certain works that are now nearly impossible to obtain - notably, the Annual Reports of the Archaeological Department of Gwalior State (1913-1943) and H. N. Dvivedi's Gvaliyar Rajya ke Abhilekh (published in Benares ca. 1946). The author Michael D. Willis's chief objective was to preserve the labors of an earlier generation of scholars, in the hope that it would "inspire historians to redouble their efforts and return to the many inscriptions that need attention" (p. ix).

The descriptions of individual inscriptions in Inscriptions of Gopaksetra follow the conventional format in Indian epigraphy: first the date (though unfortunately not with the common era equivalent), followed by provenance and find-spot, the length...

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