We read history as academic discipline, but a very few know of the steps involved in presenting the past events as historical records. When we talk of construction of past events to be presented as ‘history’, we come across the term ‘Historiography’. Historiography is the study of the methods, historians adopt to study and reconstruct past to make it acceptable as attested chronicle.
Talking from the point of view of Historiography, the historians take these steps to develop or propound a historical theory:
1) collection of source material
2) studying the source material
3) applying process of induction and deduction
4) drawing inference
5) presenting the hypothesis
6) propounding the theory
If we look at the steps involved, we observe that a scholar of science also adopts the same methods while carrying out an experiment. He too takes the source material into account, applies the process of induction and deduction, draws inference and propounds a theory. That is why the act of constructing history has often been compared to carrying out a scientific experiment. Philosophers like Hegel and Kant suggest that ‘Historiography’ could be categorised under a science subject. The only hitch in accepting it as a science subject is the accuracy of the result or conclusion.
In the premise of history, source material consists of two categories
a) Primary Source
b) Secondary Source
Historical data contained in inscriptions, ancient texts, paintings, murals, sculptures, coins or any other source of information that was created at the time under study.
Historical data that gives information about a primary source. These sources are one or more steps away from the event. Accounts presented after the time of study with the benefit of hindsight (and possible misrepresentation) are secondary. Obituaries and eulogies are categorised under secondary source.
Thus art and literature constitute an important part of history. While studying history of an era it is impossible to neglect art of the period. It shows many symbols or represents elements which may throw light on social, political, economic, cultural conditions of the period.
Same holds true for the literature. It can be even more vital than art while constructing history. Literature can be both secular or religious. while secular literature serves as the very important source material, sometimes even religious literature can throw light on the conditions of the era.
A famous abhanga (devotional verse) in the 13th century religious text, Gyaneshvari says that “Humans are worthless as leather till the time the seal of Hari naam (God’s name) is inscribed on them… as a piece of leather is worthless without the royal seal”
In spiritual term it might have its own implications but in terms of economic history it implies that there was prevalence of leather currency during the era.