POLIER, Antoine-Louis-Henri

POLIER, Antoine-Louis-Henri. Lausanne ?.2.1741 — near Avignon 9.2.1795. Swiss Officer and Traveller in India. Son of Jacques H. E. Polier, a French Huguenot naturalized in Switzerland, he got a good education and showed interest in mathematics. Invited by his uncle Paul-Philippe Polier, a General-Major in Indian army, he joined British Indian army in 1758 and arrived in 1759 at Madras. After cadetship became Captain and Chief Engineer in Calcutta in 1762. Under Clive he was even the Commandant of Calcutta, but later, as the Directorate was suspicious and unfair towards foreigners, withholding promotion, he quitted the army in 1776 and accepted service under Nawab Shuja ud-Daula of Oudh, participating in the siege of Agra. Later served under Shah Alam the Mughal. Nominated by his friend Hastings a Lieutenant-Colonel he joined again British service and was located in Lucknow, where he became ackquainted with Ram Chand. In 1789 he returned to Europe leaving behind his two Indian wives and children, married and settled in France. He was murdered when travelling to receive an inheritance.

Colonel Polier write in 1780 the manuscript, which was then published in 1809 by canoness (of Prussian order of the Holy Sepulchre) Marie-Élisabeth Polier (1742–1817), his cousin. The large work contains, i.al., a 250 pages résumé of the Mahābharata, which Dumézil deemed excellent. His major informant was the Pandit Ram Chand, who also had taught Sir William Jones. The colonel himself spoke well Urdu and was much interested in Hindu religion. His large collection of Oriental manuscripts ended in Paris and London, miniatures in Berlin.

Publications: Mythologie des Indous. P. & Rudolstadt 1809.

Sources: Buckland, Dictionary; Dumézil in Kuiper Vol. 1968, 430–435; *Dumézil, Le Mahabharata et le Bagavata du colonel de Polier. P. 1986; *Schwab, Ren. orientale. 168-170; *Ganda Singh, “Colonel Polier’s Account of the Sikhs”, JASB 4:1, 1959, 73-87; *Sanjay Subrahman, “The Career of Colonel P. and Late Eighteenth-Century Orientalism”, JRAS 3rd S. 10, 2000, 43-60; N.B.G.; Wikipedia with three paintings representing Polier among other people, French version with further details and references.

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