In the late 18th and early 19th century (200 years ago), the hashtag that could have been trending in Europe (and the West in general) would be : #Orientalism.  It was then, that Irish poet and author Thomas Moore wrote a bestseller encouraged by none other than Lord Byron himself who nudged him to explore the Orient in his works. And so he did, beginning one of his most famous works, “Lalla Rookh” in 1811. Lalla Rookh was published in May…

Love stories never go out of fashion, especially when they are narrated using songs and drama. The story of Laur and Chanda, is one such story. The folklore is performed till date in Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh and some parts of North India. Many moons ago, somewhere around 1377-78 AD (the Sultanate Period), a Sufi poet, Maulana Daud composed this narrative in Avadhi, giving birth to the first surviving Indian Sufi romance. A reason why I am drawn to museums is…

WHAT IS IT? Naan wa Halwa (Bread and Sweets), is a an illustrated manuscript about the merits of the ascetic life. It was composed in Persian by the Sufi poet Muhammad Baha’al-Din ‘Amili (I547-I62I). This illustrated version of the text reveals the lively and fertile mixture of Mughal, Rajput, and Deccani painting traditions that co-existed in Aurangabad at the end of the seventeenth century. The manuscript consists of twenty-four folios. Four depict episodes from the poem (in this case, with considerable wit) inside richly painted borders;…

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