History is coming out to be my favorite genre and it keeps going better book by book. I am starting to get over the colonial history and slowing going back to the Mughal Empire. I started with The Mulberry Courtesan which turned out to be a disappointment but here I am, talking about the first book that did justice to the Mughal Empire.
Ira Mukhoty writes history focusing on the women characters. These characters are often sidelined in comparison to their male contemporaries. In this book, Mukhoty talks about the Mughal princess and empresses who helped in shaping the history of India as we know it today.
The identity of the woman on the cover is not mentioned anywhere in the book. Or, has gravely slipped out of my eyes. But in spite of the missing identity, she could by any of the princesses enjoying the hookah and paan. She is adorned in the most precious jewelry and the delicate frame is captured really beautifully by the painter. It is, finally, great to see a woman on the cover of a book instead of the miniature paintings of the kings.
The font compliments the cover. It is a cover designed really well.
I attended a talk by the author in Kitab Khana until which I had only read half the book. It largely disinterested me because I did not see women fighting battles and laying their lives for the kingdom. They were only being transported from battlefields to battlefields like a livestock would. To my modern feminist eyes it seems like a notoriously demeaning thing to do. Why accompany the battle if you are not fighting? Battle of Chausa was where I stopped reading the book, decided I would not pick it up until I found any inspiration to do so.
The talk by Mukhoty actually changed the way I looked at the women of that time too.
The book begins with the little Babur fleeing from his enemies. But what happens primarily is that he leaves his sister the Khanzada Begum with the enemies. The Begum is respected while she is in captive and later returned to Babur with complete honor.
Khanzada is accepted into the court and thus begins the legacy of strong women who would help the Mughal Sultanate reach its glory, decade by decade.
The book is written chronologically. The history of the women is invariably parallel to the Mughal empire thus we see the narration following the pattern of the rulers. However, from the middle, from the time of Jahanara specifically, the narration is mostly female led. It could be due to the accessible information that the narrative gains confidence and we get more intimate to the lives of the women here. The narration slowly proceeds from women to women until the last of the Mughals known. The sad penury that they are reduced to, forms the epilogue of the book. The author also drives our attention to the large diversity of the culture and traditions of our country and the influence of the English in destroying it. This book is, needless of say, very informative.
This comes straight from what I have learnt from the book and rather am proud of. This book shatters a lot of the notions that may have bred or harbored deep in our minds. As opposed to the image that we often drawn of the Mughal women, the women were far from being oppressed. These Mughal women received elite education similar to an emperor. They owned their own lands and managed their own money. They traded with foreigners to grow their fortune, built structures to remember them by and held prominent positions at the court. The women were instrumental in shaping the Mughal empire. They were rather unshackled which also lead to the foreigners calling them out in the crimes such as incest etc. The women gave away their inheritance to their daughter and nieces when they died as opposed to the English tradition of men inheriting fortunes. The Indian during the early 16th century were way more liberal than their European counterparts thus outraging them.
With this book, the author questions the history that is taught to the children, especially the girls. The legacy of these women were often forgotten and we place pop culture artists as role models. We may need to take a relook on these histories which promote patriarchy where a woman has no role model to look up to.
History is increasingly being accessible to everyone now that it is written in un-academic simple language for everyone to understand and enjoy. The language in this book is similar. It is simple to read and keeps the flow in narration.
The cover page is beautiful. The content is engaging. The book shatters a lot of notions that we may have about the Mughal women. The language quite simple too.
It may be only with me, but I found the beginning a bit difficult to get into. The narration did seem like male lead but I quickly got over it.
I loved the book. This is a great initiation into the Mughal history. Looking forward to reading more books on Mughals now.
Whom do I recommend this to
This book is for those who are ready to look at history from an unconventional perspective. Those who enjoy matriarchal history are going to find this book refreshing.
Go ahead, grab yourself a copy of Daughters of the Sun and tell us what you think about the book! If you are a Kindle person, ensure to select the Kindle edition of the book.
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