, Volume 66, Issue 11, pp 2390–2396

Wootz: Erroneous Transliteration of Sanskrit “Utsa” used for Indian Crucible Steel


DOI: 10.1007/s11837-014-1154-1

Cite this article as:
Dube, R.K. JOM (2014) 66: 2390. doi:10.1007/s11837-014-1154-1


The terminology Wootz for the legendary Indian crucible steel was first introduced by Helenus Scott in his letter to Joseph Banks, the then President of the Royal Society, London, in 1794. He stated several salient features of this steel in his letter. During the period 1794–1796, Banks received approximately 200 lbs. of this steel from Scott. Banks assigned several professionals to carry out experimental work on Indian crucible steel. One such important person was the famous surgical instrument maker, cutler and metallurgist of his time, James Stodart. Stodart experimented extensively with the Indian crucible steel, and was its great admirer. It has been shown, along with corroborative documentary evidence, that the original word for this steel was Sanskrit word “utsa”. This was erroneously transliterated in Roman script as Wootz by Scott in his letter to Banks. It was James Stodart, who preserved the Sanskrit word “utsa” written in Devanāgarī script on his trade card for future generation. The reason for using this word for the Indian crucible steel has also been discussed.

Copyright information

© The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Materials Science and EngineeringIndian Institute of TechnologyKanpurIndia

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