The Sloth-Bear

A natural history drawing of a Sloth Bear produced  by a local artist under the supervision of Francis Buchanan (later Buchanan-Hamilton, 1762-1829) while he was Superintendent of the Institution for Promoting the Natural History of India at Barrackpore


— Should this be true, that Beasts were Automata or Machines, they could have no Sense or Perception of Pleasure or Pain, and consequently no Cruelty could be exercis’d towards them; which is contrary to the doleful Significations they make when beaten or tormented,
and is contrary to the common Sense of Mankind, all Men naturally pitying them, as apprehending them to have such Sense and Feeling of Pain and Misery as themselves have . . .
Besides, having the same members and Organs of Sense as we have, it is very probable they have the same Sensations and Perceptions with us . . .
and at last seemingly contrary to the Scripture too: Proverbs 12:10 . . .  A good Man is merciful to his Beast; which is the true Exposition of it  . . . .

John Ray (1627 – 1705), who laid the foundations of botany and zoology in Britain



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23 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This Bear is exceptional in that the artist accurately depicted his fur. I have seen resident bears at our summer lake house and know their fur to glisten. My Mother encountered one walking around the lake one day as they were about to cross opposite ends of a small footbridge. Mother turned around and accelerated her walking to safely get home. Her only comment: I could see his eyelashes!

    • An Indian, who was not named I’m afraid.

  2. Lovely. Dear, Secret Gardener, you always surprise me with your infinite beauty collection. And it’s so nice to know there were sensitive people in past times too. Take care. Best wishes. Rosa.

    • Ah –my few readers sometimes make me feel as though I had a real community.
      Sweet Rosa: EXACTLY–It soothes my heart to know that those people are sprinkled everywhere and throughout history, though perhaps a small proportion of humanity.

      • Would you mind if I reblog this post, just for a while, so more people get to know about the beauty of your blog?

      • Thank you! That would be wonderful.

      • Hope it works as I couldn’t find the reblog button, I think wordpress has changed a couple of things again (?). Didn’t manage to get the complete picture of the silky hairy bear on my blog as well. 😦 , but at least the link to your secret garden appears. 🙂

      • Thank you for taking a stab at this. For what it’s worth—I haven’t used the reblog button, but what I’ve done in the past is take portions of articles by cutting & pasting, and if I want to publicize a post I just upload the image from my picture or download files (whence I’d downloaded it from somewhere on the web before using it on the blog), and –if it’s a recent post— paste in the main url for the blog, so people see it on the first page but can keep scrolling if they want.
        (It occurs to me that you must scan your own drawings in. But I’m sure you’ve right-clicked on images online & saved them to your download or pictures files, too.)
        But I look now, and see that You have had a REMARKABLE impact as your devoted readers click on the link to see what you’re talking about! That is incredibly kind of you—-
        But feel free to upload the picture if you want it to decorate that post, beyond just providing the link.
        Thank you, Rosa— (or as one of your fans pointed out, wonderfully, in a comment somewhere—Rosa of the Winds)
        [As I was trying to find that comment again–and not succeeding–I saw a wonderful photograph of your desk, with marmalade cat, and irresistible drawing of a woman in an inflatable pool —with its cords still attached to the pump?]

      • I’m so happy that it worked out well! As you see, there are lovely people out there on the world wide web. The drawing you mention is one of my personal favourites. She is drinking ‘rosé’ inside the inflatable pool. 😀
        I adopted the marmalade cat years ago, she was living on the roofs in Granada at the time. I mean she adopted me, of course. 😉 xx

      • Lovely, charming, wonderful even!

        Of COURSE she’s drinking rose inside her plastic blow-up pool.

        I’m sure, you Must know of Lynda Barry? Not only was I drawn (!) to her comic strip back in the 90s [yes, I’m old],
        But I heard her chatting with her friend Matt Groening in a theater in Santa Barbara last year, and now I ADORE her.
        I think you two would be able to communicate in your special, mutual language of the pen Brilliantly.

      • I didn’t know about Lynda Barry. Thank you! Both her work and personality seem so full of energy! I haven’t seen a picture of her in which she’s not smiling, really smiling, I mean that you see she enjoys life and drawing it.

  3. You really feel like touching this bear. Incredible how a drawing can move us.

    • I agree with you both, that was what seduced me. Silky twirls of hair.

      • You feel you can move the hairs by just breathing 🙂

      • That’s absolutely the best way of putting it that I can imagine.

    • P.S. —Please, please tell me that you are compiling a book of drawings or collecting your illustrated stories in some tangible form.
      I’m sorry that I don’t have the capacity to read thoroughly enough through the mix of languages (which I ought to use as lessons) to be able to tell from the blog.
      Their charm is so—active, alive, expressive— Come to think of it, I can imagine them in a strip, or even an artfully animated tale for the screen . . .
      And people just need to see them

      • I’m so sorry for the mix of languages. Whenever I can I try to translate everything to both English and Spanish. I’m not a translater, I rather move in a sort of ‘independent language worlds’ (even more than two) and sometimes I just don’t manage to make that necessary brigde, which I should always try to construct, because my readers are from different parts of the world. Expressions are the most difficult, even if you translate them you often need the cultural context to understand them in a deeper sense. Sometimes I’m just truly lazy, after drawing I don’t feel like dealing with words at all… 😀
        I’m so flattered by your comment, Secret Gardener, as you know so much about drawing and details in life. I feel I still don’t have the level I want to reach, it’s a long process, a lot of trial and error. It seems so different to post something on a blog, to me it’s like a rather informal place, a sort of sketchbook. It often looks like I just have some friends over to share my working place. Though I have been thinking about printing some postcards as a start, but then I find I still have nothing that is good enough. Not yet. 🙂 Thanks a lot, for everything, your sensitive world is so much appreciated.

      • No no no—What could be better than knowing twice as many ways to say something? Well—what’s better is choosing between the two languages to summon up the best.
        Not only am I ashamed to know only my native language—-but I resent losing the diverging interpretations, and also! all the half-tones & blended colors that must come about when both are in one brain!
        I skim too much; it has come about with the broadening options of the web—and trying not get stuck in one sticky bit of silk, especially when that thread is an offshoot of what I was originally pursuing—You know how that goes–and so I lose focus & the ability to concentrate.
        And– absolutely–the meaning is in the context, and all the connotations beyond the definition of a word.
        It is all reminding me of the interview with an author [Louisa Hall] I heard earlier, in which she said that what was human & creative wasn’t the access to information–which computers will always have more of—but the mistakes, inconsistencies, pauses: “We can break step. Magnificent living beings that we are, we humans are free to unravel our patterns” And in an interview I found online about another book, “I started thinking about the ways we reconcile different versions of ourselves”. And then reaching for a synonym of it I looked up “blend”, and it was actually one of the definitions that fit so well in this instance: “To combine varieties or grades of the same substance to obtain a mixture of a particular character or quality.”

        Yes— an artist’s blog as a kind of sketchbook. And so it should be—Not to get self-conscious, worry about perfecting something before getting a reaction, or focusing on potential uses. You are probably allowing things to evolve just as they should.
        (I really do not know anything about drawing—-but I do love details)

  4. Another wonderful find – thank you, Secret Gardener.

    • Hello, Secret Cousin.
      Snowballing of the Climate Change—change–movement seems to be about the only hopeful thing on the horizon.
      Well done everyone, and thank god for The Guardian jumping in loudly & swiftly, as a—guardian.

      My hearts will be flying past you in a matter of days, as they fall off the eastern coast of US and just keep going—–

  5. […] Source: Beasts […]

  6. Hello Secret Gardener – the lovely Rosa led me to your door and I’m really glad she did. In the spirit of ‘fair exchange is no robbery’ I thought you’d find this Marcus Coates ‘Dawn Chorus’ work interesting because it brings humans and birds closer together:

    All best wishes

    • Thank you for it–This is absolutely fascinating—And so many things came to mind, some only murkily & so not yet recoverable, but—-
      Long ago, in a secondhand shop I found a book called The Book of Music & Nature, edited by David Rothenberg & Marta Ulvaeus, which came with a cd—but I didn’t see Marcus Coates in the anthology of essays. I will need to search for more about him.
      Then these are a couple of bits from SG. Among others:
      from linguists–,
      and of course several heartbreaking reports from the voices of birds themselves,
      I am knocked over by these things, and then they fade from mind as I go on—-But I don’t want to forget them. Thank you for bringing the conversation around again.
      Your site looks fantastic—like nothing else–I really need to explore further. (I am a sadly unmusical, would-be singer, who rues the fact that we were not all brought up on the Kodaly method in school—which might have given me a fighting chance.

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