Volume 70 Numbers 2 and 3, December 2018–March 2019
The Mughal Empire from Jahangir to Shah Jahan: Art, Architecture, Politics, Law and Literature
|Specifications:||320 pages, 125 illustrations|
|Dimensions:||305 x 241 mm|
The reign of Shah Jahan (1628–58) is widely regarded as the golden age of the Mughal empire, yet it is one of the least studied periods of Mughal history. In this volume, 14 eminent scholars with varied historical interests—political, social, economic, legal, cultural, literaryand art-historical—present for the first time a multidisciplinary analysis of Shah Jahan and his predecessor Jahangir (r. 1605–27). Corinne Lefèvre, Anna Kollatz, Ali Anooshahr, Munis Faruqui and Mehreen Chida-Razvi study the various ways in which the events of the transition between the two reigns found textual expression in Jahangir’s and Shah Jahan’s historiography, in subaltern courtly writing, and in art and architecture. Harit Joshi and Stephan Popp throw light on the emperor’s ceremonial interaction with his subjects and Roman Siebertz enumerates the bureaucratic hurdles which foreign visitors had to face when seeking trade concessions from the court. Sunil Sharma analyses the new developments in Persian poetry under Shah Jahan’s patronage and Chander Shekhar identifies the Mughal variant of the literary genre of prefaces. Ebba Koch derives from the changing ownership of palaces and gardens insights about the property rights of the Mughal nobility and imperial escheat practices. Susan Stronge discusses floral and figural tile revetments as a new form of architectural decoration and J.P. Losty sheds light on the changes in artistic patronage and taste that transformed Jahangiri painting into Shahjahani. R.D. McChesney shows how Shah Jahan’s reign cast such a long shadow that it even reached the late 19th- and early 20th- century rulers of Afghanistan.
This creatively conceived collection of articles invites us to see in Mughal India of the first half of the 17th century a structural continuity in which the reigns of Jahangir and Shah Jahan emerge as a unit, an inspired reconceptualization of the Mughal empire as visualized by Akbar on the basis of what Babur and Humayun had initiated. This age seized the imagination of contemporaries and, in a world as yet unruptured by an intrusive colonial modernity, Shah Jahan’s court was regarded as the paradigm of civility, progress and development.
Ebba Koch taught at the universities of Vienna, Oxford and Harvard; she specializes in the architecture, art and court culture of the Great Mughals of South Asia and their artistic connections to Central Asia, Iran and Europe. Her books include The Complete Taj Mahal and the Riverfront Gardens of Agra (2006/2012) and Mughal Art and Imperial Ideology (2001).
Ali Anooshahr is a Professor of History at the University of California, Davis. He is a scholar of “comparative Islamic empires” with a focus on historiography, history of memory, and cultural history of Persianate societies in the early modern period. He is the author of two books: The Ghazi Sultans and the Frontiers of Islam (2009) and Turkestan and the Rise of Eurasian Empires (2018), and articles published in Iranian Studies, Indian Economic and Social History Review, Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, Journal of Early Modern History and Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient.
Preface and Acknowledgements
Part One: From Jahangir to Shah Jahan
From Jahangir to Shah Jahan: (Dis)continuities
Contextualizing the Majālis-iJahāngīrī: Mughal Strategies of Legitimation and Integration?
No Man Can Serve Two Masters: Conflicting Loyalties in Bengal during Shah Jahan’s Rebellion of 1624
Erasure and Exaltation: The Coup of 1626 and the Crisis of Mughal Imperial Authority
Munis D. Faruqui
Patronage as Power, Power in Appropriation: Constructing Jahangir’s Mausoleum
Part Two: At the Court of Shah Jahan
The Politics of Ceremonial in Shah Jahan’s Court
Presents Given to and by Jahangir and Shah Jahan: A Comparison
How to Obtain a Farmān from Shah Jahan: The Experience of Joan Tack at Delhi, 1648
Part Three: Poetry and Court Rhetoric
The Death of the Last Mughal Poet Laureate: Court Poetry under Shah Jahan
Dībācha-nigarī at the Court of Shah Jahan: Politics and Literary Culture
Part Four: Architecture, Legal Practice, Ornament and Painting
Palaces, Gardens and Property Rights under Shah Jahan: Architecture as a Window into Mughal Legal Custom and Practice
The Tomb of Madani at Srinagar, Kashmir: A Case Study of Tile Revetments in the Reign of Shah Jahan
Dating the Dara Shukuh Album: The Floral Evidence
Part Five: Epilogue
Modelling Kingship: Shah Jahan in the Afghan Imagination
The reign of Shah Jahan (1628–58) is widely regarded as the golden age of the Mughal empire, yet it is one of the least studied periods of Mughal history. In this volume, 14 eminent scholars with varied historical interests—political, social, economic, legal, cultural, literary and art-historical—present for the first time a multidisciplinary analysis of Shah Jahan and his predecessor Jahangir (r. 1605–27).
In what ways, if any, were Jahangir’s political memory and legacy relevant to Shah Jahan? In approaching this question, the essay opens with a brief survey of Jahangir’s representations in Shah Jahani chronicles and shows that the former was excluded from the new imperial model crafted by his son’s historians to the benefit of more prestigious forebears such as Akbar and Timur. However, Shah Jahan’s selective genealogy may in itself be seen as part of Jahangir’s legacy and it is argued that, far from being an isolated case, such a pattern of “hidden indebtedness” is quite emblematic of Shah Jahan’s relationship to Jahangir’s heritage. This is especially true of two areas in which Jahangir did not simply follow in the steps of his father Akbar but pioneered new ground for the Empire: the ideology of universal rule and its visual translations; and Mughal mercantilism.
Handling religious and ethnic diversity in their empire has occupied the Mughals since Babur’s time. Not only political strategies developed from this, but also specific narrative patterns, which were closely interwoven with the legitimation of power, especially of Akbar and Jahangir. The implementation of new administrative systems such as the mansab and the maintenance of loyalty of various elite groups made it necessary to develop a consistent narrative of domination that would match all these political measures with the interests and points of identification of the elite. In this process, textual, pictorial, architectural and performative representation intertwined. This contribution examines narrative patterns in the Majālis-iJahāngīrī, a source from the court of the early Jahangir period, which incorporate the contents of the ṣulḥ-ikull and the courtly order in everyday court protocols and use them as the basis for legitimation.
This chapter argues thatBahāristān-i Ghaibī (the memoirs of the Mughal officer Mirza Nathan in early 17th-century Bengal) was written by the author because of his participation in the rebellion of Prince Khurram (the future Shah Jahan) against his father,Emperor Jahangir. The chapter contributes to understanding the difficulty involved in the transition between the two reigns, but also more broadly, to the subtleties of Mughal political culture as experienced by a relatively low-ranking officer.
This article revisits three Mughal retellings of an attempted coup in 1626 by Mahabat Khan—a powerful but disaffected Mughal nobleman—against Emperor Jahangir (r. 1605–27). The first, Fatḥnāma-i Nūr Jahān Begum, was written in the final year of Emperor Jahangir’s reign. The other two—Ma’āsir-i Jahāngīrī (c. 1630) and Iqbālnāma-i Jahāngīrī (c. 1632)—were composed in the early years of Emperor Shah Jahan’s reign (1628–58). These accounts highlight the different challenges imperial historians faced in portraying Jahangir (who they all agreed was enfeebled by the end of his reign) as well as restoring Mughal imperial authority in the wake of Mahabat Khan’s actions. They also reveal some of the tensions and political manoeuvres that characterized the early years of Shah Jahan’s reign. This article demonstrates that Shah Jahan’s chroniclers (in all likelihood with Shah Jahan’s blessings) are unique in the high Mughal period (c. 1526–1707) for their willingness to seriously undermine the legacy of a previous Mughal emperor. It asks how they do so without also undermining the Mughal Empire itself.
The court histories of Shah Jahan state without ambiguity that he was responsible for the construction of his father’s tomb in Shahdara, Lahore. This chapter challenges the historical record through an examination of the imperfections present at Jahangir’s mausoleum complex, arguing that their presence would be inconceivable if Shah Jahan, who considered the perfection of his architectural commissions as reflective of the perfection of his rule, was the patron. Rather, such construction and decorative anomalies at the site can be attributed to the patronage of Jahangir’s queen, Nur Jahan. Through this discussion the importance of architecture as a medium through which the Mughal royals sought to perpetuate their individual legacies becomes clear, as despite the finished mausoleum and its associated complex being neither perfect nor a recognizable part of Shah Jahan’s imperial architectural oeuvre, he appropriated responsibility for its construction in his court histories.
Based on a study of contemporary court chronicles, narratives of European travellers, miniature paintings and later biographical literature, this chapter looks at the manner in which government officers of different ranks, visiting foreign dignitaries and eminent religious personalities were expected to behave when they were in Shah Jahan’s presence. It analyses the physical disposition of the court and the ceremonial aspects of the emperor’s day-to-day dealings with those present in it and seeks to determine what these interactions reveal about the ruler’s views regarding organized space, his relations with members of the political elite, his religious outlook and his terms with the other states of the early modern Islamic world. Court ceremonial was, the essay argues, an essential element in Shah Jahan’s perception of his imperial authority, and has considerably influenced the image that he has left behind of his reign for posterity.
Gifts are a major means to represent human relationships. In the Mughal Empire, diplomatic gifts represented the relation between states, but also the relation between the emperor and his nobles. Gifts were due at promotions, at the emperor’s birthday, and on New Year. Their price mirrored the nobles’ effort for their emperor, and the emperor’s protection of them. This chapter examines the characteristics of 17th-century Mughal gifts from and to the emperor, their kinds and terminology, from the sources. It also traces developments in gift giving from Jahangir to Shah Jahan. The result is that while Jahangir, like Akbar, relied on the fantasy of his officers, Shah Jahan fashioned them into a system of tributes and rewards.
Among early modern states, the Mughal Empire is distinguished by its administrative system, which, aside from its feudal structures, is characterized by a high degree of centralization and bureaucratization. Although we already know much about the administrative structures, little is known about how efficient this system actually was, and in which way legal acts were performed at the imperial court. The account of the merchant Joan Tack, who had been sent to Delhi in 1648 to obtain an imperial farman for the Dutch East India Company, offers illustrative insights in the functioning of the court bureaucracy under Shah Jahan’s rule. This description of a diplomatic affair does not only offer an insight into imperial foreign politics under Shah Jahan, but provides ample information about the importance of patronage, the role of personal networks, the institutions involved in the bureaucratic process, and not least the mechanisms of power and control in the Mughal state.
Literature under Shah Jahan’s patronage was characterized by certain dominant trends such as history-writing in both prose and verse, topographical poetry about Kashmir, as well as short occasional poems. The first half of Shah Jahan’s reign may be considered the pre-Shahjahanabad period, when the arbiters of taste were a largely Iranian community of poets, while the second half of his reign saw the integration of a large segment of Persianate Indians in all areas of literature. Scholarly attention has focused on the production of historical chronicles by various authors and Prince Dara Shukuh’s eclectic writings on Sufism and translation projects but contextualizing these in the larger literary developments at court deepens our understanding of the historical and literary shifts taking place in the middle of the 17th century. Scholars are also now paying closer attention to multilingualism and attempting to integrate the role of Hindi and Sanskrit texts in early Mughal literary culture. Including this larger body of literature and going beyond the ghazal form provides a more holistic view of the cultural atmosphere of the period.
Dībācha literally means brocade or ornamentation, and is the term used for the preface, exordium, preamble or introduction of a book. The dibacha was an established convention in classical Persian literature and generally included praise for the Creator and His creation; praise of Prophet Muhammad and the first four caliphs, and praise of the ruler. This essay examines the dibachas of representative Indo-Persian works produced under the Mughals with a particular view to typology, format, language, stylistics, cross-cultural influence and, not least, political purpose.
A large number of impressive mausolea testifies to the architectural patronage of the Mughal elite while, on the other hand, we have much less evidence of architectural grandeur in their houses. The emperor’s amirs and mansabdars, and even his sons and daughters resided in gardens with light pavilion structures rather than in large palaces. This chapter argues that the Mughal nobility could not own their houses and gardens on a heritable basis and thus they saw no reason to invest in large and expensive residential structures. By the reign of Shah Jahan the escheating of houses and gardens of the mansabdars seems to have become the standard practice and it appears as if the emperor commanded a pool of houses and gardens that cyclically would return to the crown to remain with it or to be given out once again. In contrast, the Rajput elite could keep their ancestral lands and raise large palaces on them.
A new style of architectural ornamentation appeared in the early years of Shah Jahan’s reign on imperial structures in the northern provinces of the empire. Tile revetments were composed of square or rectangular polychrome glazed tiles rather than the well-established tile mosaic. Designs painted across several tiles were done in the technique known as cuerdaseca. Little is known about the origins of these Mughal tiles. Circumstantial evidence suggests the technique was brought from Safavid Iran by individuals such as Ali Mardan Khan, who were patrons of architecture and occupied the highest positions within the Mughal hierarchy. One of the most intriguing and enigmatic of these once decorated the Mughal gateway to the 15th-century tomb of Sayyid Muhammad al-Madani in Srinagar, known locally as the tomb of Madani.
The Dara ShukuhAlbum, now in the British Library, is the only imperial Mughal album that survives more or less intact with nearly all its original miniatures, calligraphy and original covers. Despite this importance, it has always been viewed as somehow distanced from the main albums from the reign of Shah Jahan on account of its princely rather than kingly status, its numerous anonymous portraits and what has been thought of as its general artistic inferiority to the major products of Shah Jahan’s reign, especially as its hitherto accepted but vague dating (1633–46) makes pinpointing its relevance difficult. This essay helps to place its creation in 1630–33, right at the beginning of Shah Jahan’s reign and as central to the changes of artistic patronal taste that transformed Jahangiri painting into Shahjahani.
Every king measures himself in some respects against his predecessors and consciously or otherwise models his own acts on those whose achievements he most admires. The late 19th- and early 20th-century rulers of Afghanistan, Amir ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan (r. 1880–1901) and his son and successor, Amir Habib Allah Khan (r. 1901–19), both had their models whose style of rule they wished to emulate. One of these figures, in fact the only known historical figure to be cited as a model, was the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, whose image was formed in their minds by monuments attributed to him in Afghanistan and by the record of his reign contained in ‘Abd al-Hamid Lahauri’sPādshāhnāma. This chapter recounts the variety of ways in which Shah Jahan’s image was evoked by these two men as filtered through the account of their chronicler, FaizMuhammad KatibHazarah, the author of Sirāj al-tawārīkh.