First Oriya Pentateuch
[Pentateuch. Oriya]. Translated by William Carey, et al.
[Serampore: Mission Press, 1814]. (Prothro B-390)
This is the first edition of the Pentateuch in Oriya, a language of the east coast of India. It was published by the Mission Press at Serampore, India, founded in 1800 by the English Baptist missionaries William Carey (1761–1834) and William Ward (1769–1823), who had moved from Calcutta to the nearby Danish colony of Serampore to avoid the strictures of the British East India Company. From 1801 to 1837 the Mission Press printed Bibles and scriptural selections in 45 different South Asian languages, including thirty-five editions that were the first appearances of the scriptures in those languages. Rev. Carey, a self-taught speaker of numerous Indian languages, produced the translations with the aid of several assistants, while Rev. Ward, a trained printer, produced the typefaces required by the various languages. A special paper used for these editions, impervious to local insects, was produced at India’s first paper mill, established by the missionary John Clark Marshman.
An inscription within the Pentateuch indicates that in 1822 William Ward sent the volume from Serampore to Isaiah Thomas, the famous American printer and philanthropist, as a gift for the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts.