- Hardcover: 424 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 25, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195074882
- ISBN-13: 978-0195074888
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,924,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Nur Jahan: Empress of Mughal India 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
From the Back Cover
This is the story of one of the most powerful and influential women in Indian history, Nur Jahan. Born on a caravan traveling from Teheran to India, she went on to rule the Mughal empire - in fact if not in name - when she became the eighteenth and last wife of Emperor Jahangir. Nur Jahan grew up among noble families of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds. Given in marriage to a Turkish soldier of fortune known as Sher Afgan, she bore one daughter before Afgan was killed in a political quarrel in Bengal. Nur Jahan returned to court as a widowed handmaiden and was noticed four years later by the emperor at a bazaar. She and Jahangir were married in 1611 and, due to his increasing addiction to alcohol and opium, she immediately ascended into the vacuum of power. Quickly forming a ruling clique of her brother, father, and stepson (Shah Jahan), Nur Jahan influenced everything she touched with tremendous creativity and charisma. In addition to her management of affairs at court and the intrigues of financial, martial, and marital alliances, Nur Jahan had decisive influence on religious policy, artistic and architectural development, foreign trade, gardening, and the opening up of Kashmir. Barred from long-term power at Jahangir's death by her brother and stepson, Nur Jahan spent the last two decades of her life in exile with her daughter in Lahore. An intriguing, elegantly written account of Nur Jahan's life and times, this book not only revises the legends that portray her as a power-hungry and malicious woman, but also investigates the paths to power available to women in Islam and Hinduism.
About the Author
Ellison Banks Findly is at Trinity College.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
It is good for the Mughal Empire that Jahangir fell in love with her, and while she and the "junta" may have concentrated power in themselves, it is also conceivable that were it not for her, Jahangir would have been ousted as a ruler, and that would have been the end of the Mughal Empire in India.
I did not know that she was a trader, as was Jahangir's mother. This makes her even more fascinating as a person, as is her skill in the hunt, and is also her patronage of the arts.
When I first went to her father's tomb in Agra, I was fascinated by the design; when I went back, I was fascinated by the fact that this design marked a turning point in Mughal architecture, and would have definitely influenced the design of the Taj Mahal.
While Ellison Banks writing style is a bit dry, I must say that she presents a rather balanced view of Nur Jahan. The lady deserves more recognition in our history books, and the author has done us a great service in writing this book.
The Indian emperor allowed his consort to govern in his name while he enjoyed himself in the pursuit of courtly pleasures and what turned out to be a slow descent into alcholism.
Luckily for India, Nur Jahan was a very intelligent and capable ruler, that knew how to promote the right people and had an extensive and beneficial influence over the taste and artistic developments of the period, her legacy in that respect is even more interesting than her politics. She was also acknowledged by the emperor for her accomplishments, even having coinage issued in her name which was quite an accomplishment at a time when most women's lives were confined to the harem, or zanana as it is called in India.
Some of the most interesting passages of the book are those dealing with her patronage of the arts, and particularly for her influence in architecture and the construction of exquisite gardens. It is most important to note that the architectural style of the Taj Mahal, the greatest of all Mughal monuments and the greatest achievement of Sha Jahan's reign actually had an antecedent in the mausoleum that Nur Jahan built for her father.
In another very interesting chapter her literary merits as a poet are discussed and quoted, so the reader is able to glimpse at her literary persona. This is perhaps the most revealing chapter in getting to know the woman behind the veil of majesty and cultural convention.
Although I enjoyed reading this book, I found the style to be dry and dull. It is difficult to get through the chapters, and one gets the impression that the scintillating personality of the empress escapes the author's portrayal. The author has investigated her subject thoroughly but has failed to understand the charm and magnetism that made Jahangir fall in love with her, eventhough she was past her prime, widowed, and had a grown child from her first husband when he became interested in her.
The amount of notes per page is quite staggering and the reader is advised not to follow them if he wants to keep track of the narrative, it is best to check them all at one time at the end of each chapter, as most are only referencing the sources and not necessarily clarifying the text.
There are no maps of either cities or countryside in the book, so for the reader it may be annoying not to be able to visualize the many trips of the court or even the locations of battlefields. The book has many illustrations but none are in color, and most of the architectural pictures seem to have been taken in the early part of the 20th century, and fail to convey the delicate beauty of the Mughal monuments. More importantly, the black and white illustrations of the miniatures, which are never augmented in size, make it almost impossible to see any details. These illustrations do not provide an accurate depiction of the splendor and luxury that characterized the court of Nur Jahan, which was anything but subdued in color.
All of the above taken into account, it is still a most interesting and important account of a fascinating character in the history of India and I strongly recommend it for anyone interested in the period or in a fascinating woman that combined in one person the strength of will and intelligence of Elizabeth I of England and the seductiveness, elegance and charm of Empress Josephine.
Nur Jahan deserves more attention from biographers, and her life would be excellent material for an exciting film.
Jahangir was given largely to sensual pleasures, including six cups of alcohol (each two parts wine to one part arrack) and two doses of opium every day (the first eight surkhs, the second six) --- following a reduced regimen, instituted by his physicians and enforced by Nur Jahan. I wish Findly had mentioned how many milligrams a surkh is. Also, how much happiness and debility a diet such as this is likely to induce. Given his level of addiction, it is no wonder that following Jahangir's wedding to Nur Jahan in 1605, political power was exercised on his behalf almost entirely by a clique constituted, initially, of his beloved Nur Jahan, his chief minister Itmaduddaula, the courtier Asaf Khan, and his son Khurram.
Itmaduddaula was Nur Jahan's father, and Asaf Khan her brother. Khurram, the son of Jahangir's second wife, Jagat Gosaini, came to be known as Shah Jahan, later, when he ascended the throne following a protracted rebellion against his father. The ruling clique had disintegrated by the time of the rebellion. In his revolt, Khurram was covertly aided and abetted by Asaf Khan, who was also the father of his wife Arjumand Bano (later Mumtaz Mahal).
Sharyar, a son of Jahangir from one of his concubines, and the husband of Nur Jahan's only child Ladli Begum from her marriage to Sher Afghan, was Nur Jahan's choice for Jahangir's successor. Nur Jahan had no children by Jahangir. Nurjahan had tried her very best to marry Ladli first to Khusrau, Jahangir's eldest, then to Khurram, but neither could be made to take an interest in Ladli.
Sharyar, however, never did stand a chance against Khurram. In the few years before Jahangir's demise, Sharyar contracted leprosy, and that further reduced his chances for making a successful bid for power. A few days after Jahangir's death, Sharyar did proclaim himself emperor at Lahore, but within a few days of that he was imprisoned by Asaf Khan, and blinded by his order. Yet a few days later Shah Jahan, marching north from Deccan to Agra at the head of the rebel army, sent a message to Asaf Khan to have Sharyar and four other princes done to death. They were strangled.
Nur Jahan was a woman of unusual ability. She exercised political authority with intelligence, courage and astuteness, and did it despite constraints (like purdah) imposed by life in the Moghul zenana. She was also responsible, almost single-handedly, for the many artistic, architectural, and cultural achievements of the Jahangir era. Her cultural and artistic achievements derived largely from the immense resources at her command. But they were also, in equal measure, due to her unflagging energy, and the keenness of her aesthetic vision. Her artistic achievements include the Moghul gardens of Kashmir and Agra, and the tomb of her father Itmaduddaula, also in Agra, which was the first example of the use of white marble embellished with the precise inlay of precious stones into the surface of marble facing --- a technique (pietra dura) exploited also in the construction of the Taj Mahal.
Findly's biography is a work of scholarship and authority, yet very lucid and absorbing. It covers a very interesting period of Indian history, and ties together reports from a number of contemporary sources: Indian, British, Dutch, Portuguese, and Italian. Separate but overlapping chapters each cover material with thematic unity.