Feb 27, 2016


Its my principle to be on time, be it meeting someone or reporting to work or completing a work on schedule. I don't say I'm always on time but I always try not to be late. I don't like to keep people waiting. I owe my 'sense of time' to Gulli ~ Gulveer, friend since my teen years. Being punctual and disciplined really makes life easy.

Here are two of my favourite quotes:

  • Lost time is never found again - Benjamin Franklin
  • Time abides long enough for those who make use of it - Leonardo da Vinci

Talking about time, lets look at the definition from Wikipedia: Time is a measure in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and also the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them. Time is often referred to as the fourth dimension, along with the three spatial dimensions.

..so why this talk about time?

Nov 28 2015, Pushpa and I had been to Salar Jung Museum. One of the main attractions there is the musical clock manufactured by Cooke and Kelvey Co., England. A signage next to the clock reads as follows: This English Bracket Clock, which is said to have manufactured in England and assembled in Calcutta in the late 19th Century A.D. It has been acquired by the Salar Jung III, Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan (AD 1889 - 1949) from Cooke and Kelvey Co, probably in the early 20th Century A.D. it has more than 35 parts. the clock contains a mechanism by which a small toy figure of a bearded man comes out of the enclosure three minutes early to every hour and strikes the corresponding hour (s) on the gong to every 60 minute and goes back inside. Another toy man who is a blacksmith visible is seen holding a hammer and striking the seconds without any break. Enriched with nicely wrought metallic mounts, the huge mechanical clock has three dials for a day, date and month in addition to chime every 15 minutes. This musical clock is one of the most attractive objects in the museum.

The clock actually attracts crowds, people just wait patiently for the hour strike, particularly the 12 noon event. By 11-30 AM the clock gallery is packed, folks eagerly waiting for the bearded man to come out his sloped roof box and strike the gong a dozen times. Besides the musical clock, the museum has a hall dedicated to a collection of clocks.. grandfather clocks. At the hall entrance are 6 signages about time and historical clocks. Interesting they are. Here we go..

The five diagrams here are described as follows:

  • Killing Time
  • Too much Time
  • Behind Times
  • Trifling Time away
  • Idling Time away

  • Cleopatra's Needle on the Thames Embankment in London, once stood at the temple of Heliopolos a sun worshipping center in Egypt, where its shadow indicated the hour.
  • The Aztecs made complex calendar calculations. This calendar stone vividly colored, stood on a platform halfway up the pyramid of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan it is said to contain enough information to predict solar eclipses. At the center is the Sun God Tonatiuh.
  • The first known illustration of a sand glass is in the Italian Fresco of 1337 - 9 in the Palazzo publico in Siena to make a sand glass (shown at right) two bulbs were wound together at the open necks where a pierced diaphragm restricted the flow of sand.

  • A sun dial held by a twelfth-century stone angel on the porch of Chartres cathedral. The original style was horizontal and has been replaced by an angled one.
  • The hemicycle was used for accurate timekeeping in ancient Rome. That showing would have a horizontal style. It divided the period from sunrise to sunset into twelve equal temporal hours and indicated equinoxes and solstices.

  • King Akhanaton Queen Nefertiti and one of their daughters adoring the Sun, from a relief of Cairo Museum from Tell-eh-Amarna (1552 - 1306 BC). The Sun was giver of life and provider of Time.
  • The goddess Attemprance appearing from a cloud grasping a Gothic iron clock with going and striking trains: from fourteenth century French manuscript.

  • A Sun God tablet on which two lesser Gods introduce King Nabuapaliddina (885 - 852 BC) of Babilon into the presence of God Samos, sitting in his shrine. The Babilonian priests calculated a year of 360 days from the Sun and seasons, and may have introduced the hour.
  • Roman Emperors took Egyptian obelisks and set them up in Italy. According to a book of astronomy of 1911, an official was detailed to call out the hours.

  • Water clocks by Ctesilius
  • A shepherds sun dial in use on the pyrenees until recent times it is a altitude dial, giving the hour by the length of shadow. The gonomon is rotated to the scale for the month.
  • The earliest known illustration of a medical horology, in a manuscript in the Bodleian library Oxford dating from about 1285. The hydraulic clock is depicted in the top circle and a Latin text besides it describes the miracle of King Hezekiah.
  • Illustration from The Automata with some of the text. It shows the clock of doors, which has a candle at the center and 14 doors around the candle holder. When an hour passed from lighting the wick a ball fell from falcon's beak, the door opposite opened and a figure emerged. At each hour a different door opened.

A leaf from "The book of Knowledge of Ingenious mechanical devices by Badi al zaman ibn al Razzaz al fazari, showing a hydraulic automata which is an elephant clock. The manuscript known as "The Automata of al fazari", describes 50 devices under headings, the first of which is a clock.

Man's creativity is amazing. Man measured time using shadows, water, sand, fire, mechanics and finally electronics. Having seen sundials and sand clocks, there's something really ancient that I would like to mention- a prehistoric clock/calendar of Vibutihalli a village in the present day Shahpur taluq, Yadgir district of Karnataka state. This clock is a collection of boulders arranged in a huge matrix. This clock was used to predict seasons. Here's a diagrammatic representation of the original calendar. This prehistoric megalithic monument was studied by the British officer and historian Philips Meadows Taylor. To know more Prehistoric Stone Alignment of Vibhutihalli.

Jantar Mantar of Jaipur and New Delhi are two more ancient time machines known for their accuracy. Gavi Gangadhareshwara Cave Temple in Bangalore is another ancient monument known for its astronomical connection. God knows how many more such creations exist or lost to our world.

Well, its time to stop now.

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