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G.Amirov on Amazing Indian 18th Century Dogs

Amazing Indian 18th Century Dogs: Russian Impression 

The library of the Russian Embassy in India contains a rich collection of books on the history of Russian-Indian ties. The travel notes of Russians who found themselves in India are of particular interest and throw light on early people-to-people contacts. The description of Indian traditions and habits before the colonization is even more exciting. Russian travelers often point out at well organised power structure, good law and order situation, clean habits, developed trade, cottage industries and agriculture. Step-by-step we translate and share with you our findings.

Gubaydullah Amirov was an ethnic Tatar, a resident of Siberian town of Orenburg. During the Pugachev Rebellion (1773-1775) he was captured by nomads and transported to Bukhara. Yet, as a Muslim, he was not sold into bondage, and could move freely. In attempt to earn for a living, Amirov undertook a 30-year long journey through Afghanistan and India, before returning to Russia in 1805. Upon his return, Amirov was employed as an interpreter with the Orenburg Border Commission. He kept notes of his trip and a made a detailed narration, which was duly recorded. He expired few year later.

We hope that you will enjoy a fragment of the recount where Amirov shares his description of Indian dogs – independent, clever, and deft. 

While travelling this route [between Jaisalmer and Jaipur] one should also be on guard of dogs, which are present there in great numbers. Local residents do not exterminate them, as well as other animals… It is also forbidden to punish them as they are considered a Creation. They believe that all animals are excluded from the government’s authority. Even Muslims are not allowed to kill any livestock for consumption as it is considered a tyranny to do so merely for voluptuousness.

The local residents don’t pay any attention to dogs and other animals, their protection and sustenance, as it is a custom with us [Russians], so they are on their own. Due to this fact, the dogs in this country are so clever in theft that their means may seem incredible.

Once during his travel he happened to stay at a hotel. A cloth with a dish and food in it was hanging on a wall in the courtyard. At night, a dog came and tried to reach the food, but it was too high and it had to go. Soon, it returned with another dog. One of hem stood by the wall, while the other jumped on its back and almost reached its plunder, but the owner woke up and drove them away. Sometimes the travelers bury the food under the ground, but if they fall asleep due to exhaustion dogs dig the food out and steal it.

Gubaydullah Amirov