THE FLYING WOODEN FLY OF LAHORE
KARAM SINGH MUSSAWAR AND MAHARAJAH SHER SINGH
An event of 1842 in Lahore
We came across a news of a robotic wood fly made in the United States and the owner was very proud of same. In his posting he proudly narrates the same:
There is no more rewarding moment for roboticists than when they first see their creations begin to twitch with a glimmer of life. For me, that moment of paternal pride came a year ago this month, when my artificial fly first flexed its wings and flew.
It began when I took a stick-thin winged robot, not much larger than a fingertip, and anchored it between two taut wires, rather like a miniature space shuttle tethered to a launch pad. Next I switched on the external power supply. Within milliseconds the carbon-fiber wings, 15 millimeters long, began to whip forward and back 120 times per second, flapping and twisting just like an actual insect’s wings. The fly shot straight upward on the track laid out by the wires. As far as I know, this was the first flight of an insect-size robot.
This immediately took us back to a news about 1842, which involved a painter of Lahore, and his name was Karam Singh Mussawar. He was a craftsman and could do many things. He was an expert carver too.He was also a carpenter par excellence and loved to experiment with his wood making techniques. One such experiment involve a fly made of wood which could actually fly in the air.
Karam Singh requested a meeting with Maharajah Sher Singh, and met the Sikh leader. He showed him his fly and the Maharajah jested, it was a fine creation, and would be best if it could fly too. Karam Singh released the fly and it flew and settled on the PAGH of the Maharajah, that is his turban. The Maharajah was perplexed and full of wonder, but unfortunately, he never felt it worthy to give any reward to Karam Singh, who was totally disappointed at the response. In any case it is a record of a wonder of Lahore of the 19th century.