“A True Gem of Indian Canine Heritage”

In 2015, “Bajirao Mastani,” a Hindi-language historical romance movie, created a bit of fuss among Indians. The plot told of the forbidden love story between a renowned Maratha warrior and a beautiful Muslim princess set amidst the backdrop of political intrigue, cultural differences, and family opposition.







Check out a couple of scenes from the film:

The movie was classic Bollywood: A extravagant production dotted with action, song-and-dance scenes, melodrama, and romance. Give a look to the dance scene below:

Some Indians complained that the film was a semi-contorted romanticised version of what really happened,  but the fact remains that the plot was rooted in the story of two people who really lived.  We leave the debate to Indian historians. As we see it, wrangling over historical accuracy opened the door for Indians to delve deeper into the history of their country, and that’s a good thing.

For our purposes, we look closer at the period in which these two lovers lived, the 18th century in the Maratha Empire. The Maratha Empire was a dominant power in India during the 17th and 18th centuries. Its formation and expansion was due to the Marathas, a predominantly Hindu warrior group adroit in military conquests, political maneuvering, and the gradual consolidation of power. This powerful Hindu empire was able to unite the disparate kingdoms of India under one banner, and produced a time known for its rich cultural heritage of literature, music, and art.

There was something else that came out of this time and place: The Mahratta Greyhound.

Maratha Greyhound, Maharashtra Dog, Mahratta Greyhound, Bajirao Mastani, Bollywood

Photo: By Clifton & Co. Bombay. – John Sidney Turner (ed), The Kennel Encyclopædia, London: Sir W. C. Leng & Co, 1907-08., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=89276170

A sighthound obviously named after the Mahratta region has been described as a “true gem of Indian canine heritage.”  The elegant and wicked fast breed was developed by crossing the Persian Greyhound (Saluki) brought to India by Muslim invaders in the 13th century with local Indian sighthounds, and used to hunting small game such as rabbits and hares, as well as deer and gazelle. Standing between 24 to 28 inches tall, a Mahratta weighs, on average, between 60 to 80 pounds, and is often blue and tan in color. They are sometimes compared to the Saluki, but Mahratta Greyhounds are described as being slightly smaller in frame.

Sadly, the Mahratta Greyhound is now one of India’s rarest breeds and not easily found outside of India. Its popularity declined in the early 1900s because modern hunting methods changed, along with a decline in the availability of game.  It is recognized by the Kennel Club of India, but not by any other major kennel clubs (yet).

Top vector by © Dima1970 | Dreamstime

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