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Monday, Oct 18, 2021
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Raag Dehlvi, Vilambit

A much-married, feisty beauty lives and loves in an era suffused by poetry, in this paean to Indo-Islamic culture

Raag Dehlvi, Vilambit
Raag Dehlvi, Vilambit
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Shamsur Rahman Faruqi’s The Mirror of Beauty is based on, but is not a direct translation of, his Urdu masterpiece Ka’i Chand the Sar-e Asman. Set in the early and mid-19th century, when the Mughal empire was at the zenith of its cultural achievements but when its political star was receding into oblivion due to the ascendancy of the East India Company, it follows the life of Wazir Khanam, a well-born woman of rare beauty. In a sense, Wazir’s uncertain life, buffe­ted by the strong winds of unf­oreseen events, is the mirror Faruqi uses to reflect the beauty and tumult of her times, of Delhi in the decades leading to the uprising of 1857.

The book begins with Wasim Jafar, a des­cendant of Wazir Khanam, based in modern London. Then it veers off into a fascinating account of Wazir’s forebear, Mian Mak­hsusullah, a master painter from Kishangarh in Rajasthan who, expelled from his village for doing an imaginary portrait which eerily turns out to be all too real, settles in Kashmir and becomes an expert carpet...

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