" Zarin left to join his two elder brothers, who were sowars in the Corps of Guides "
The Corps of Guides was one of the regiments of the British Indian Army, active from 1846-1922. The regiment was first raised in Peshawar by Lieutenant-General Harry Lumsden and soon grew in size and quality, becoming known for their excellence, daring and toughness. The Guides were the first unit in either the Indian or British armies to wear khaki.
" frieze of red hand-prints "
Suttee palmprints at Jodhpur
The Hindu ceremony of suttee involved a widowed woman burning on her husband's funeral pyre in a ritual of suicide. As she passed through the Suttee Gate on her way to the pyre, she would traditionally dip her hand into red dye and leave her hand print on the gate.
" News had come from Zarin in Mardan "
Mardan is a city in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP). This is where a lot of the action in The Far Pavilions takes place. The city is the capital of Mardan District.
" another unnerving incident, involving a cobra "
The cobra is a venomous snake of the family Elapidae
. There are many types of cobra, including the Indian Cobra (Naja naja
). It feeds on prey such as rodents, frogs and lizards and attacks by biting or spitting venom. The Indian Cobra may grow from 1.8-2.2m long.
Indian Cobra factsheet
" small sliver of mother-of-pearl "
Decorative mother-of-pearl - Credit: Kluka
Juli's greatest treasure is a small fish made from mother-of-pearl. Mother-of-pearl (also known as nacre) is a strong, iridescent material produced by mollusks such as the oyster and the pearl mussel. It is often used to make jewellery, buttons and other decorative items.
" the great black pearl that hung from Hira Lal's ear glimmered "
Black pearl oyster
Black pearls are a highly valuable type of pearl. In the past they were very rare, as the black pearl oyster, Pinctada margaritifera, didn't usually produce any natural pearls - today, however, pearl culture technology can be used to create black pearls.