Punjab, meaning the ‘land of the five rivers’, referring the main tributaries of the Indus that flow through it (being the Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Chenab, and Jhelum), is a vast, fertile and magnificent region that has for millennia been the object of empires and epicentre of sophisticated cultures. Punjab became the furthest point of conquest of Alexander the Great, and over the centuries has served as a great centre of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and the Sikh faith. The Mughals made the region’s greatest city, Lahore, their capital from 1584 to 1598, and otherwise it was frequently the residence of the emperor. It enjoyed a new golden era, when from 1799 to 1849, it was ruled as the Sikh Empire, for most of that time by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the ‘Lion of the Punjab’. In 1849, following the Second Anglo-Sikh War, the British conquered Punjab, whereupon it became one of the most important parts of British India, being a land of immense agrarian wealth and cultural wonders.
By the time that this map was made, Punjab, while still under the British yoke, was buffeted by the powerful undercurrents of Pan-Indian nationalism and Islamic, Hindu and Sikh sectarianism, which
challenged the colonial regime, and often each other. The Amritsar Massacre (April 13, 1919), whereby a group of British troops in Amritsar, Punjab, fired upon an unarmed assembly of Indian civilians, shocked the world and severely undermined Britain’s moral authority in India. Many people say that the death of British Raj was foretold on that day. Upon Indian Independence (1947), Punjab was famously divided between India and Pakistan, with the majority (mainly Muslim) areas going to Pakistan and the far eastern regions around Amritsar going to India (forming a Sikh majority state).
The present work is the official general map of the Punjab intended for use by the British Raj government, senior military officers and major commercial concerns. Published in Calcutta by the Survey of India, it is predicated upon the most recent trigonometrical surveys and is by far and away the best representation of the region during the tense period in the wake of the Amritsar Massacre.
The map embraces all Punjab and parts of Afghanistan, the Northwest Frontier Province, Sindh, Rajasthan, the United Princes, and the Himalaya regions (the scope reaches from Jalalabad, in the northwest down to Delhi, in the southeast). All towns, cities and villages of note are marked, the five great rivers and their tributaries are carefully delineated, and relief is shown by careful shading.
The ‘References’, in the lower left margin, identifies the symbols used to identify Boundaries (province, state, district and tribal); Railways (broad gage, double and single; metre gauge and others); Roads (main, minor with mountain passes); Triangulation Stations; Spot Heights; Forts; and Battle Fields (with dates; including key showdowns of the Anglo-Sikh Wars).
The many ‘princely states’ and statelets, jurisdictions ruled by native leaders under the umbrella of the Raj, that dot the map are outlined in yellow, with the 36 smaller entities identified by numbers that correspond to the names in ‘Reference’ key in the lower right margin.
A Note on Editions and Rarity
The map was issued by the Survey of India in at least 4 progressively updated editions. The first issue was published in 1918, with the present second edition appearing in 1923; following that, we can trace editions in 1933 and 1947.
The map is extremely rare. We cannot trace any institutional examples of the present 1923 edition, nor can we find any sales records. The 1918 edition is very rare, known in only a few institutional examples. It seems that the map likely had only a very limited print run for use within a small circle of officials and businessmen, and that it had a low survival rate owing to wear in the field and the Indian climate with is notoriously unfriendly to works on paper.
References: N / A – No examples of present 1923 edition traced. Cf. (Re: 1918 edition:) British Library: Cartographic Items Maps I.S.131.