Friday 3rd May Jantar Mantar

Richard Cox and Professor Mike Edmunds

Image credit: Richard Cox

Jantar Mantar translated means Instrument Calculation which refers to the functions of the instruments for astronomical measurements documenting the heavens based upon the principles of Galileo. The Jaipur site, the largest of the four existing Jantar Mantars has 18 instruments. This site was created in the 1720s and recently underwent extensive renovation, the first major work since an earlier extensive renovation supervised by Chandra Dhar Sharma Guleri during the reign of Maharaja Sawi Madho Singh in 1901.

The Jaipur site contains the largest sundial in the World, Samat Yantra, 27 metres high and synchronised accurately to local Jaipur time.

The extraordinary series of Stone Observatories, Jantar Mantars were created and built by Sawa Jai Singh II (1688 – 1744). I will be presenting photographs taken, for the most part, from Jaipur,. There will also be brief references to the JMs in Delhi (the first observatory to be built) and in the holy city of Ujain.

This illustrated talk will present photo documentary images that I have observed and recorded over many repeated visits between 1993 – 2018, and will be assisted by Professor Mike Edmunds providing expert interpretive support as my background is in Fine Art not Astronomy.

Following the premature death of his father Bishan Singh, Sawa Jai Singh II became the Maharaja at the age of eleven . He was a keen and diligent scholar extensively studying Sanskrit and Persian, Mathematics and especially astronomy. His astronomical studies included Mirza Ulugh Begs astronomical table, Flamsteads Historia de Coelestis, De La Aires tabulae and syntaxes of Ptolemy. Some of these manuscripts can be viewed at the City Palace Museum. When designing the astronomical instruments Jai Singh II had Euchids Elements of Geometry translated into Sanskrit and based their interpretation upon the Tables of Zij Muhammadshahi.

Jai Singh II was remarkable in several other ways, in 1725 started relocating the Capital City replacing the Amber Fort in 1733 to the valley below. By doing so he created the new city based upon the Hindu grid pattern designed by the city planner Vidyadhar Bhattacharya. Jaipur, named after its founder later to become known as the Pink City. It is said that in celebration of the impending visit by Prince Albert the city was painted pink -the colour in reality being more akin to pastel brown – unfortunately the Prince died before he could see the city for himself. Jai Singh was a great warrior and distinguished himself in conflict, the period in which he lived was a very unsettled and turbulent time. He must have been a physically imposing man, judging by the size of his pyjamas on display in the Palace Museum and the size of his sword.

*Sawai Jai Singh and His Astronomy. Virendra Nath Sharma. 1995 ISBN 81-208-1256-x

Richard Cox studied Fine Art for 8 years moving to live in Cardiff in 1975 with a background in teaching in various Art Schools in UK and abroad. This included as VL at the RCA, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Kunstakademiet i Trondheim and Delhi College of Art.

Senior Arts Officer (Visual Arts) at SEWales Arts Assoc. and The Arts Council of Wales running the Artist in Residence programme (AiR) and international exchanges between 1983-98. SL Cardiff School of Art & Design 2003-2013.

Strong links with India and toured his exhibition Subterranean Architecture. Stepwells in NW India to 17 galleries In the UK, USA and India between 2008-2018. This tour included Jantar Mantar.

He has been AiR in the UK, Japan, India, Norway and the USA, exhibiting extensively with his work is held in 27 public and over 100 private collections.

Mike Edmunds is Emeritus Professor of Astrophysics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University in Wales. Both his first degree (Natural Sciences) and Ph.D (Astronomy) were from the University of Cambridge. He moved to Cardiff University in 1974, where he was in succession Research Fellow, Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor, serving as Head of School between 2002 and 2005. Prof. Edmunds. main areas of research have been in the determination and interpretation of the chemical composition of galaxies and the Universe, and on the origin of interstellar dust.

In recent years he has worked in the history of astronomy. He also has particular interests in physics education and public outreach. He has served on the Councils (and many committees and panels) of the UK Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and the UK Science and Technology Council. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and of the Royal Astronomical Society. He was the 2004 George Darwin lecturer on “The Elementary Universe” for the Royal Astronomical Society, and has just retired as Chair of their Astronomical Heritage Committee. He is also Chair of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, and Chair and Member of the Institute of Physics Curriculum and Welsh Education Committees.

He is also a Vice-President of our society – the Herschel Society and President of the Royal Astronomical Society.