RATTRAY, James; Lieutenant
The Costumes of the Various Tribes, Portraits of Ladies of Rank, Celebrated Princes and Chiefs, Views of the Principal Fortresses and Cities, and Interior of the Cities and Temples of Afghaunistaun
London: Hering & Remington, 1848. Folio. Hand coloured lithographed additional title, 25 hand coloured lithographed plates (i.e. numbered 1-30, with plates 6/7, 14/15, 19/20 and 24/25 on single sheets).
Expertly bound to style in half red morocco and period green moire cloth boards, upper cover with original red morocco gilt label, yellow endpapers
The finest illustrated book on Afghanistan and an important color plate book issued in the early days of the "Great Game."
Published in London between 1847 and 1848, this important work was one of the first texts to chronicle the British conflict in Afghanistan. Rattray, who served with the 2nd Grenadiers, Bengal Army, during the conflict, took great pains to note specific details of dress and local customs of the Afghani soldiers and statesmen with whom he came into contact. He held the Afghan landscape, costume, and architecture in high esteem and his collected views form the most extensive and the largest of the colour-plate books on Afghanistan listed in Abbey.
This work is set against the background of the First Afghan War of 1838. A British force replaced the emir Dost Mohammed with the pro-British Shah Suja as part of a policy to contain Russian expansion. After two years, the situation in Kabul had deteriorated rapidly, leading to a disastrous retreat. The list of subscribers suggests that the work was planned before the confusion of 1841-1842 and includes Sir Alexander Burnes and Sir William Macnaughten (both killed at Kabul in 1841). Asterisks mark the names of deceased subscribers, which by 1848 included all the senior officers in the Afghan campaign except General Pollock, whose defence of Jalalabad was one of the few consolations to British morale. The book is dedicated to the Kandahar force and its late General William Nott.
The illustrations include some fine native portraits as well as Dost Mohammed (while a "Prisoner of state") and the Shah Suja. The views include Kandahar, Kabul and Lugdulluk, scene of the final annihilation of Elphinstone's force.
Abbey Travel 513; Colas 2489; Lipperheide 1497.