Hindoo Red Ink

The stoneware bottle is 185mm tall.


9 thoughts on “Hindoo Red Ink

  1. it does look as though Indian or Hindoo red has some historical context – seems that red could be related in some way to the colour of much of the soil on that continent. The ink colour is what I remember from school – its a tad plain but a good honest red without any hint of ox blood or other modern shading. Seems bright red has a niche in most cultures – maybe we just like vibrant colours. It’s also possible I suppose that the long British presence in India gave rise to us using some of their names or habits – bungalow for example 🙂 I like those old stoneware ink or ginger beer type bottles

  2. I have seen a empty bottle at my Grandpa’s home back in India way back. I think as Paul says, the term “Hindoo” was used due to the fact that the British ruled India from 1757 to 1947. Alsom maybe the red color of the ink was named Hindoo due to the fact that vermilion powder and vermillion paste is used a lot by the Hindu population of India for religious ceremonies, and vermillion powder is used by Hindu women to signify that they are married woman.. Plus, as Paul says, maybe they used it because it reminded them of the reddish colored soil in Northern India and western and central India.

  3. There was a saying that said writing in red ink brought bad luck to the recipient, may that had something to do with getting a red letter was a dept or bill. We used the make old leather cash ledgers with red and black link used in the ruling machines a long lost trade Now. People even used Indian ink red black and blue when one would scratch a name or design into your arm or somewhere till blood ran then rub in the ink into the area it was a common practice in the late fifties sixties. Ouch!!

  4. ‘Hindoo’ is an older variant of ‘Hindu’ and was used during the time of British rule over the Indian subcontinent.

    Assuming the contents of the Hindoo ink bottle are original, it is amazing that it has survived so long. What does the ink smell like? Is there any hint of a sweet odor, which may be a hint of added Phenol (carbolic acid)? Phenol added in very small amounts acts as a protective biostatic agent. Decant the ink into another (preferably very clean) container. Is it thick or lumpy? Does it separate? Any of these signs may be indicators of contamination (a.k.a. SITB) or break down.

    Macniven and Cameron Ltd. (a.k.a. M&C, and later Waverley Cameron Ltd.) had a good market in the South and South-East Asia region during British rule. I know nothing about a M&C “Hindoo” nib (I’m assuming it is a dip-pen nib), but the name does not surprise me, and neither does the association with M&C.

    For example: I have a very nice Macniven & Cameron BCHR ‘Waverley’ eyedropper-fill fountain pen with the signature up-turned Waverley nib and blue jewel. I bought the pen in Singapore. Long ago these Waverly fountain pens (not to be confused with Waverley dip-pen nibs) were quite popular throughout S. & S.E. Asia because of their durability and generous ink capacity. You can still find them in the vintage market today, often in India and sometimes in Pakistan (don’t forget Hong Kong and Singapore too; but I don’t know about China).

    Best Regards, David

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