Kim


Chapter IX

Notes on
the text


by Sharad Keskar

The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan Uniform Edition of Kim, first published in 1901 and frequently reprinted since).

The Mall, at Simla


[Feb 3rd 2013]

[Page 210, verse heading] These verses do not appear in the verse collections, though they have a distinctly Kiplingesque ring about them.

Gisbert Haefs writes: this may well may well have been rendered into verse from a book by Walter Shelley Phillips, Totem Tales: Indian Stories, Indian Told; Gathered in the Pacific Northwest (Chicago, 1896). Parts of these seem to have been published earlier in magazines or newspapers.

S'doaks, Yelth and Itswoot the Bear are characters or totem spirits in these tales, and there is one chapter about "Kloo-Kwallie, the Medicine Dance". Kipling must have known them, since in his uncollected preface to "How the Whale got his Throat" in St. Nicholas Magazine for December 1897 he writes: 'the Blue Skallalatoot stories are morning tales'. 'Skallalatoots' are mischievous water spirits in the Totem Tales.

Brigadier Alec Mason in ORG notes: their relevance is clear. S'doaks is Kim, Itswoot is Mr Lurgan, who is shown with a beard in the Cassell’s illustrations and therefore makes a good bear; Kim is quick and bold ... he will be seen later, no doubt, dancing 'the dread Kloo-Kwallie Dance' for Lurgan’s amusement.

[Page 211, line 21] musk secretion from a gland of the musk-deer used in perfumery.

[Page 212, line 22] khandas and kuttars Rajput swords and daggers.

[Page 216, line 10] prayer wheels exclusively associated with Tibet and Buddhism, these were drums, that rotated on spindles, with prayer inscriptions. They come in all sizes, large ones, installed at the entrances of temples for public use, and small hand-held ones, some no bigger than a child’s rattle.

[Page 219, line 19] Dekho! Look! Or Look out! Or, at its simplest level, said to draw someone’s attention.

[Page 221, line 22] Devil Dasim One of the five sons of Eblis and devil of discord.

[Page 221, line 30] ink-pools “a pool of ink in the palm of the hand seems to have been used by a medium who was able to accelerate self-hypnotism and second sight by staring at it.” [Brigadier Alec Mason, in the ORG]

[Page 223, line 10] ruttees “seeds of a leguminous creeper used for weighing jewels, [gems] as well as for rosary beads…” [Brigadier Alec Mason, in the ORG]

[Page 224, line 18] in highest feather exuberant, joyous.

[Page 225, line 17] Maharanees A Maharanee [Maharani] can be a Queen in her own right, or wife of a Maharaja.

[Page 225, line 18] Babus A babu is a clerk, often doubling as a personal secretary.

[Page 226, line 11] teak-wood is a hard, yellowish-brown, heavy, durable wood, used for furniture and ship-building.

[Page 228, line 8] Hurree Chunder Mookerjee Kipling was no fan of the Western educated Bengali Babu. But in Hurree Chunder Mookerjee he presents a composite portrait of a character with many attractive qualities, including a rare combination of timidity and bravery. However, Kipling could not shy away from the typical bombast that Bengalis of Hurree’s background were prone to. As a result, much of the humour in Kim owes a debt to Hurree.

[Page 229, line 5] Angrezi English.

[Page 229, line 28] open-worked-stockinged the dhoti, a white cotton drapery, traditionally, but often inadequately, worn round the waist by Hindu men — particularly Bengalis — fails, unlike trousers, to cover the shins. To remedy this, socks and suspenders are worn. These being visible, the wearer is tempted to go for colour and design. But this does not prevent the chill travelling up the loosely worn dhoti. [This is one of the many instances in which Hurree comes across as an Indian Malvolio, as in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.]

[Page 230, line 12] vakils “Indian lawyers, also called pleaders.” [Brigadier Alec Mason, in the ORG]

[Page 230, line 32] Colonel Creighton Apart from Creighton, the main characters in Kim are Asians. Kim is the bridging, down-to-earth protagonist, while the lama is the bridge that binds the ephemeral with the spiritual. It is possible that Creighton, like Hurree Chunder Mookerjee, was based upon a real person. Brigadier Alexander Mason, in the ORG suggests: “The only name that has been put forward as a possible original for Colonel Creighton is that of Lieut-Col. Alexander Herbert Mason. . .” Mason’s Appendix II in the old Readers’ Guide is profitable reading for any serious study of Kim.

[Page 231, line 11] jiggetting up and down jerking that tonga (a two-wheeler, single horse-drawn carriage) passengers experience due to the horse’s trotting.

[Page 231, line 31] Burke and Hare two notorious murderers who suffocated their victims and sold their bodies to surgeons for dissection.

[Page 232, line 25] ad interim in the meantime (Latin).

[Page 233, line 22] Lord Lawrence John Lawrence, often referred to as “Lawrence of Punjab”, where he was Lieutenant-Governor. He was made Governor-General of India in 1864. Sir Henry Lawrence, his elder brother, was mortally wounded during the 1857 (Indian Mutiny) siege of Lucknow.

[Page 233, line 25] Allyghur Mohammedan College Kim, not yet fifteen, would have been an excellent cricketer to play for St Xavier’s eleven.

[Page 234, line 27] Pali An ancient Indic language, surviving only in Buddhist scriptures.

[Page 235, line 25] the Jataka A collection of Buddhist legends relating 547 previous incarnations of the Buddha.

[Page 236, line 12] Rains the Southwest Monsoon, which arrives every year in June.

[Page 236, line 19] in the twinkling of an eyelash A Biblical allusion: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump” [1 Cor. xv. 52], instantly destroyed or changed.


[S.K.]