The Observant Owl: Sensory Worlds of Colonial Calcutta in Hutom’s Vignettes

Priyanka Basu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The proliferation of print in mid nineteenth century Bengal witnessed several self-reflexive exercises in writing that tried to capture the incongruence between the colonial administration and indigenous everyday lives. Hutom Pyanchar Naksha (or The Observant Owl) written by Kaliprasanna Sinha (1862) is possibly the closest representation in print of such incongruities. This article focuses on the text of Hutom in relation to visual representations and reports by the colonial administration in contemporary English newspapers like The Hindoo Patriot, The Bengal Harkaru and others. In doing so, it will highlight the sensory world of colonial Calcutta that is so vividly captured in Hutom.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)948-965
Number of pages18
JournalSouth Asia: Journal of South Asia Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2021


  • Archive
  • colonial Calcutta
  • naksha
  • performance
  • print cultures
  • senses


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