Tasveer Ghar: A Digital Archive of South Asian Popular Visual Culture   

Fantasizing the Mughals and
Popular Perceptions of the Taj Mahal

Catherine B. Asher

Fig.01

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The Taj Mahal today has become an international icon and of this there is no doubt.1 For example, an advertisement in a Japanese subway for grave markers features an image of the Taj Mahal to underscore the point (fig. 01). Much imagery of the Taj Mahal, particularly that used in western advertising, however, gives no indication that the Taj Mahal is a funerary monument. Examples include an advertisement promoting the late hotelier Leona Helmsley’s Helmsley Palace in New York that compared her hotel to the Taj Mahal, thus thoroughly misunderstanding its originally intended use.2 So too I recall the day many years ago when my daughter came home from her secondary school in St. Paul, Minnesota (USA), telling me that I was going to be very upset because her teacher informed the class that the Taj Mahal was a Hindu palace.3 With these few examples of how the Taj Mahal is viewed outside of the subcontinent, I would like to consider how the complex and by extension the Mughals were and perhaps still are understood in India for a period ranging roughly from the formal end of the Mughal empire in 1858 into the post-independence period as evidenced in part by visual ephemera in the Priya Paul collection (fig. 02).

Fig.03

I commence my discussion of the attitudes toward the Taj Mahal in the subcontinent itself with two post-Independence examples. One is a booklet on Brajbhumi entitled The Lands of the Legends of Love featuring on its cover not an image associated with the terrain of Krishna’s childhood but rather with an image of the Taj Mahal,4 considered by many as a symbol of undying love. The Taj Mahal, as Kajri Jain notes, was a favorite backdrop, whether the actual monument or the backdrop of a photo studio, for posing couples in public places.5 In this same spirit, although devoid of any couples, is an oversized New Year’s Card, probably inspired by Valentine cards, purchased in Kolkata in 2010, underscoring this notion.6 The interior’s pop-out image of the Taj is emblazoned with the following: “You are my passion;” “You are the sunshine of my soul!” and “I have a heart full of love, which I always like to give you” (fig. 03). Clearly, the notion that the Taj Mahal is the penultimate symbol of love is alive and well in India today.

Fig.04

A second Indian image of the Taj Mahal is evoked in a 1979 interview by historian and blogger Jyotsna Kamat with nationalist historian R.C. Majumdar whom Kamat considers India’s greatest historian; it was conducted shortly before Majumdar’s death.7 What is noteworthy for our purposes is that this interview took place in Majumdar’s living room, which was embellished with a painting of the Taj Mahal. This might not be unusual given the vast number of wall calendars that bear images of the Taj Mahal, including ones in the Priya Paul collection (fig. 04). However, considering Majumdar’s approach to Indian history as witnessed in his eleven-volume work The History and Culture of the Indian People, which essentially celebrates both India’s ancient past and independence from foreign rulers, among whom he included the Mughals, the presence of the Taj Mahal in this scholar’s living room appears ironic.8 This seeming paradox raises questions about the place of the Taj Mahal in Indian thought and imagination, and, who so to speak “owns” this architectural masterpiece. Is the Taj Mahal essentially a national icon, considered distinct from the larger Mughal legacy?

The Historic Taj Mahal and Popular Perceptions Through the 19th Century

It is well-documented that the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan commenced the Taj Mahal in 1632 upon the death of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who had died in childbirth. Although even scholarly books and articles tend to give a disproportionate amount of attention to this tomb over other Indian monuments, suggesting its tremendous significance on the development of Indian architecture, in fact the structure essentially marks the end of a long tradition in tomb construction. Since the tomb complex was largely inaccessible to most people until the nineteenth century, it was only seen by the average person from the river. It is not until the nineteenth century that with the exception of seventeenth-century imperial Mughal texts, we have significant Indian opinion on the Taj Mahal.9 Europeans, however, did comment on the Taj Mahal as they wrote about their impressions of the subcontinent, often with an eye to published fame. Of all the Europeans who recorded their thoughts on the Taj Mahal shortly after its construction, only the Frenchman Francois Bernier, who lived in India from 1658 to 1669, can be considered a reliable witness. This is because he gained access to the complex through his connections with the royal family serving as the emperor Aurangzeb’s personal physician, something most foreigners lacked. Bernier writes about the tomb in a way that underscores his own uncertainty on how to appreciate Indian architecture, an attitude, I argue, that persisted among British scholars into the early twentieth century. Bernier writes:

Last time I visited Tage Mehale’s mausoleum I was in the company of a French merchant, who, as well as myself, thought that this extraordinary fabric could not be sufficiently admired. I did not venture to express my opinion, fearing that my taste might have been corrupted by my long residence in the Indies; and as my companion was come recently from France, it was quite a relief to my mind to hear him say that he had seen nothing in Europe so bold and majestic.10

Fig.05

The Taj’s harmoniously balanced composition appealed to western sensibilities as early as the 17th century. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the Taj Mahal was immortalized by a number of European artists. Throughout the nineteenth century, Europeans continued to admire the Taj, and for the British its compound was the favored picnic spot. At the turn of the twentieth century, Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, had the monument restored, thus giving it even greater fame.11 This enthusiasm for the Taj Mahal by the British resulted in the production of popular imagery which was purchased as souvenirs, for example, the ivory painting placed in an ornately carved wood frame for display purposes shown here as fig. 05.

While a few Indian authors penned histories of the Taj Mahal in Persian for European patrons and wrote poetry in Urdu praising the buildings, it was not until 1860 that Bholanauth Chunder, a Bengali gentleman educated in British-sponsored institutions, recorded his impressions of the Taj Mahal in English for a wide readership.12 His first visit to the monument covers sixteen printed pages as he waxes eloquently on the complex echoing the sentiments of many English subjects before him. Chunder, however, departs from the typical commentary on the tomb by expressing dismay over the common European belief that the structure was designed by a Frenchman, not an Indian.13 While the belief that the Taj Mahal was designed by a European persisted in some European and American literature well into the twentieth century, a number of Indian and other authors have dispelled this view.14

The Taj Mahal as a Symbol of Love

The Taj Mahal is commonly viewed as a statement of Shah Jahan’s love for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Mughal chronicles of this time are careful to present a view of this fifth Mughal emperor as essentially flawless, and we have little direct information on his personal beliefs and predilections, thus making it difficult to discern between the official version of his life and his true feelings. Although Wayne Begley’s well-known 1979 essay “The Myth of the Taj Mahal and a New Theory of its Symbolic Meaning,” attempted to debunk Shah Jahan’s romantic feelings for his wife,15 his devotion to Mumtaz Mahal was most likely genuine for she accompanied him on all his campaigns, and during and after their marriage he fathered no children other than hers. Mughal chronicles report at length on the emperor’s profound grief at her death. The saga of their love and the emperor’s despair over her death became legend. Thus by the late nineteenth century, portraits of the emperor and his wife -- although in her case the term portrait is problematic since she observed purdah -- were painted on ivory ovals and sold to tourists European and Indian alike. They were often fitted into carved wooden frames or inlaid into the lids of small containers for display.16 To some purchasers perhaps the love between Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal was meant as a parallel in their own lives; for others it may have been an elusive ideal.

Fig.06

For those who could not afford hand painted portraits on ivory, chromolithographs were the poor man’s substitute. One in the Priya Paul Collection showing the Mughal emperors and their queens is inspired by painted ivories; each portrait follows the shape and format of painted ivories (fig. 06). They do not, however, follow known Mughal portraits of the rulers. Akbar (r. 1556-1605) is probably in the top medallion, while Shah Jahan is likely depicted on the left. The queens’ appearances are, of course, creations of the artist’s imagination. The central image shows an enthronement scene to indicate these are royal images. It is unlikely that such a poster was intended for anything other than local Indian consumption.

Fig.07

Yet another image in the Priya Paul Collection derives from those found on painted ivories but the link is not only apparent, but also the connection to the Mughals is misunderstood. “A Mughal Princess being Entertained with Dance and Song,” was included in the 1937 Times of India Yearbook for an article titled “The ‘Purdahnishin’ Ladies of the Mughal Court” (fig. 07).17 The image is loosely modeled on a Mughal album page, commonly but erroneously called miniature painting, which is rectangular in format with a blue border embellished with floral motifs in gold. It depicts a princess watching two women dancing with hands clasped. The two dancing girls are also found on ivory ovals and probably derive ultimately from Rajput painting.18 Thus what may be defined as Mughal in twentieth-century India is fuzzy as it embraces multiple traditions.

Fig.08

Other imagery associated with romantic love between Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal in the Priya Paul Collection includes a poster entitled “Mumtaz Naukavihar” which shows the royal couple floating on the river in a swan-shaped boat before the moon-lit Taj Mahal (fig. 08). The artist has not attempted to make Shah Jahan identifiable according to "realistic" portraiture; rather, the image is intended to evoke bhava in the beholder, that is a mood or emotion, and a frequent goal in Indian aesthetic theory.

Swans in Indian heritage are associated with female beauty, wisdom and wealth, qualities we are lead to believe the beloved queen possessed. The moonlit Taj Mahal is an image evoked in poetry, including that of the Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) in which it is used to represent the sublime.19 His nephew, Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951) painted several pictures of Shah Jahan and his Taj Mahal; at least one shows the monument shrouded in moonlight.20 These images, too, were reproduced as chromolithographs for widespread consumption.21

Fig.09

A poster in the Priya Paul Collection made by the Ajanta Art Calendar Manufacturing Company, that also produced “Mumtaz Naukavihar," depicts yet another pair of royal lovers, Prince Salim, the future Jahangir (r. 1605-27), with Anarkali, who reputedly was a dancer in the royal court in Lahore (fig. 09). The two are shown embracing, although like the image of Shah Jahan in “Mumtaz Naukavihar,” Salim bears no resemblance to any known portrait. Again the goal here is to evoke a mood or emotion. To add to that sense of a romantic emotion, both this poster and the one of “Mumtaz Naukavihar” have a cinematic quality in terms of color and composition. Since the theme of Hindi films was and continues to be romantic love, this link is hardly surprising.

Fig.10

Whether or not Anarkali actually existed or if the lore surrounding her ill-fated love affair has simply been hyped remains unknown. Legend claims Akbar, Salim’s father, was outraged by the affair. He then, it is said, had the dancer buried alive between two walls. While such an action would have been unlikely for a ruler often considered the epitome of a just king, there exists in Lahore a tomb which many believe is that of Anarkali. All the same, the ill-fated lovers have attracted 20th-century imagination. Plays, poems and films have been made about the passion of Salim and Anarkali. The 1953 Hindi film, Anarkali, became one of the most popular Hindi films of that decade, while the 1960 Mughal-e-Azam, concerning the same Salim-Anarkali theme, remains a classic.

Fig.11

Ill-fated love among the Mughal royals is also the theme of the 1964 film, Jahan Ara, whose lobby cards are in the Priya Paul Collection (fig. 10). Jahan Ara was the eldest daughter of Shah Jahan. Upon her mother’s death, Jahan Ara was denied marriage to her beloved, so the film version goes, to care for her father. The beautiful but unfulfilled Jahan Ara is shown in a throne room complete with cusped white arches resting on slender pillars. The movie set designer has made little attempt to render the stage setting in accordance with actual Mughal architecture. A postcard by the Delhi firm of H.A. Mirza and Sons in the Priya Paul Collection shows the Public Audience Hall of Shah Jahan’s palace in Delhi as having cusped arches that rest on robust pillars, not slender ones as in the Jahan Ara stage setting (fig. 11). Those in the film are white; originally the ones in the Delhi palace were covered with a burnished white plaster to resemble marble. While the emphasis on ill-fated love or unrequited love is a common one in romance literature, especially the ghazal, a classic poetic form in which pain and/or loss in love is the major theme, it may have resonated with young people who had little choice in marriage partners; the selection was generally guided caste, class and religion.

 

Traversing Land / Traversing Sea: Popular Mughal Imagery on the Move

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Fig.13

Mughal court paintings were present in Europe by the late-17th century if not earlier, and European prints and paintings had been in Akbar’s 16th-century court. It is not known when popular Indian art first entered European shores, but Raja Ravi Varma’s western style paintings and prints of Hindu deities served as models for late 19th-and early 20th-century textile tickets that were printed for textile pieces bound for India and especially calendars printed in Europe for Indian consumption.22 While the bulk of scholarship concerning printed ephemera has focused on god imagery, recent essays on the Tasveer Ghar website have shown that the range of imagery was much more diverse.23 The Priya Paul Collection, for example, has several tickets depicting the Taj Mahal. One from the Graham’s Cotton Mill in Manchester not only is in English, but also in Assamese and Burmese showing the extent of the market (fig. 12). Others have images of the Taj, but the firm’s name had yet to be added. One ticket, of which there are two identical examples in the Priya Paul Collection, shows the Taj across the river with a diminutive young man gazing at it as if overwhelmed by the building’s magnificence or perhaps smitten with love (fig. 13). Such tickets were produced in Europe and often based on popular Indian imagery, then attached to individual textile pieces for the Indian market. These inexpensive tickets not only identified the mill but also were collectables in their own time. Images of imaginary buildings that are creations of the artist’s mind, but inspired by domes, minarets and the white fabric and river-side setting of the Taj Mahal, also grace textile tickets in the Priya Paul Collection. Interestingly no other clearly recognizable Mughal building is found on textile tickets in the Priya Paul Collection or in any other published collection.24

But one should not assume a lack of interest in Mughal architecture outside of the Taj in the 19th and early 20th centuries. There are a number of examples featuring leading Mughal buildings in Company Paintings, also on ivory paintings, stereoviews (fig. 14), photo albums and certainly postcards. Besides two postcards in the Priya Paul Collection featuring the Taj -- one, based on a painting, had been sent to someone in Guildford so likely it was bought by a British person and sent to a friend or relative there (fig. 15)-- eight postcards feature other Mughal material. They were produced by the firm of H.A. Mirza and Sons, a company that essentially held a monopoly on the Delhi market for postcards between about 1900 to the 1930s (fig. 16). The cards were printed in Germany so their images often crossed the ocean multiple times as they were photographed in India, printed in Europe, returned to India and then often mailed again across the seas. The H.A. Mirza cards generally illustrated buildings associated with the Uprising of 1857-58, hill stations and Indian Islamic architecture, although they also sold images of Mecca and Medina to Muslims too poor to go on the Hajj.25 The Mughal-themed postcards in the Priya Paul Collection go beyond the traditional buildings built by the first five Mughal rulers, usually considered in the colonial period to be relatively benign despots, but include later Mughal subject matter as well.

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The cards depicting Akbar’s tomb, the Taj Mahal, and Shah Jahan’s buildings in his Agra and Delhi palaces represent architecture of the “classical” Mughal period, images that even today are purchased by tourists (figs. 17-18). Three other postcards, one of Aurangzeb’s Moti Mosque, the Bibi ka Maqbara (his wife’s tomb in Aurangabad) and the 18th-century Sunehari Mosque in Delhi are more surprising for several reasons (figs. 19-20). Mughal rule until the mid-17th century was generally considered in positive terms; Indians and westerners, however, commonly see Aurangzeb’s accession to the throne in 1658 as the beginning of the Mughal empire’s demise. Aurangzeb was, and even still today, is considered a zealous bigot who thrust the Mughals into a long debilitating war which commenced the downward spiral of the empire.26 While Aurangzeb’s little Moti Mosque generally gets positive press, the tomb in Aurangabad is often disparaged as a poor version of the Taj Mahal just as this emperor’s rule is commonly considered a corruption of previous Mughal rule. The Sunehari mosque, virtually forgotten today, sits on Delhi’s Chandni Chowk and was the site where Nadir Shah, an Iranian, ordered the sack of Delhi in 1739. Images of the Bibi ka Maqbara and the Sunehari mosque may have been more than mere reminders of a trip, but rather reminders of the weakness of Mughal rule and the need for a British controlled India.

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Images of Mughal architecture were found more commonly on textile tickets, posters, calendars and other printed ephemera than were depictions of Mughal monarchs. As noted in discussion of posters, “Salim Anarkali” (fig. 09) and “Mumtaz Naukavihar” (fig. 08), there is often no attempt to achieve even a recognizable fidelity to the well-known portraits of these rulers. This trend continues to be seen on other printed ephemera. Akbar, who is generally considered the best of all the Mughals, is fortunately named on two examples in the Priya Paul Collection; without that identification, it would be difficult to recognize him. A calendar for 1927-28 advertising the Bombay firm Currimbhoy Ebrahim & Sons, Limited features an image of Akbar with his nine jewels (Nav Ratan), that is, his nine closest advisers (fig. 21).27 The image on this calendar bears some resemblance to known portraits of Akbar. However, a textile ticket indicating collaboration between the Indian firm of Kerr Tarruck & Company and the Manchester mill, Steiner, bears the title in Hindi, Akbar sa Padshah, that is, "Emperor Akbar," above the emperor’s image (fig. 22). Without the title, it would not be possible to identify the seated king as Akbar, for his appearance is much closer to the bearded pious Aurangzeb. On this ticket, Akbar holds prayer beads, a feature common to portraits of Aurangzeb, but unique here to depictions of Akbar. A textile ticket for the Manchester firm of Glazebrook, Steel and Company depicts a monarch very clearly modeled on an image of Shah Jahan today in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (fig. 23).28 This firm interestingly was involved in British expansionist efforts in Burma and the extension of the railway to enhance commercial growth.29

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Fig.24

Imagery of the Taj Mahal, of other Mughal buildings and of Mughal royalty continued to capture the imagination of the British and Indians alike well after the demise of the Mughals in 1858. The early Mughal monarchs, that is, those ruling until the mid-17th century, appear to have been viewed as benevolent; the later Mughal rulers come to be viewed as malevolently despotic. Accordingly imagery of the architecture of Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan, as well as their portraits, predominated in reproductions of the colonial and post-colonial periods. There is no particular evidence that these popular images had any associations with Islam as a religion or were directed specifically at a Muslim market but rather were icons of India’s past.30 Predominant among them is the Taj Mahal whose image appears to have transcended simple associations with the Mughals but eventually became an icon for the nation (fig. 24).

 

Whose Taj?

By the late 1970s, when Kamat interviewed nationalist historian Majumdar in his living room graced with a painting of the Taj Mahal, it is safe to say the monument for many had become a national icon. Its image transcended its Muslim Mughal origins to become a symbol of national pride as witnessed by its presence on so many calendars and postcards. But that today is not necessarily the case as the Taj Mahal for some takes on a new charged meaning.31

To understand this, I return to Bernier, who was unsure of his own judgment regarding the Taj Mahal. His uncertainty is paralleled two centuries later by a flyer advertising the viewing of an ivory model of the Taj based on the building itself, which is claimed “to be the most unique and elegant Edifice in the known World,” but at the same time is pronounced “in magnitude a little inferior to our St. Paul’s.”32 James Fergusson (1808-86), the first person to write a history of Indian architecture, similarly wrestled with the Taj Mahal’s beauty, comparing it to the Greek Parthenon but in the end favored the western structure as superior.33 These attitudes, smacking of a sense of western superiority, are behind the myth of a European designer for the complex.

E.B. Havell, writing in 1913, had a very different notion of the Taj Mahal than did Fergusson, and it is Havell’s view that fueled the views of P.N. Oak (1917-2007) and other Hindu nationalists of the post independence period. Contrary to the work of Fergusson and others, Havell argues that the Taj Mahal has nothing in common with Islamic architecture outside of India and in fact is essentially Indian -- here we should read pre-12th century India -- in origin.34 He writes at length about how its plan, motifs and design elements symbolize ideals found in ancient Indian art, not Islamic art, although these arguments are accepted by no serious scholar today. His insistence on the origins of the Taj Mahal, not in the buildings built recently by Shah Jahan’s own predecessors but in ones unknown to the Mughals and built long before the 17th-century would support the notion that Havell believed the “real” India was one rooted in its Vedic past.

Fig.25

The ideas first proposed by Havell are taken up and enhanced by P.N. Oak, who founded in1964 the Institute for the Rewriting of Indian History in New Delhi, and his followers.35 In general this is done by a skewed reading of well-known historical documentation, presenting issues surrounding the Taj as a conspiracy on the part of the Government of India and the Archaeological Survey to shield its citizens from truth (fig. 25). Although reputable scholars do not take Oak’s arguments seriously, the material originally written by P.N. Oak and augmented by others is readily available on the World Wide Web.36 The BBC posts a discussion site which gives a fairly traditional version of the origins of the Taj Mahal and then below it the P.N. Oak version, which is recounted in greater detail.37 This site has generated an abundance of web-based responses. Respondents to this site are either appalled by the P.N. Oak version or, on the other hand, are taken by the conspiracy theory tone of the Oak arguments. What we see here is that a new myth of the Taj Mahal -- one whose implications are both far-reaching and frightening -- is being developed by fundamentalists and neo-nationalists, who through a massive network of electronic and paper publications, are attempting to once again reshape the Taj Mahal's iconic status to meet their own immediate concerns.

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1 I would like to thank Sugata Ray for his help with this essay. For accessible sources on the Taj Mahal see: Ebba Koch,The Complete Taj Mahal and the Riverfront Gardens of Agra (London: Thames and Hudson, 2006), and Giles Tillotson,Taj Mahal (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2008).

This advertisement was featured in the 1980s in up-scale food magazines such as the now defunct Gourmet. See Pratapaditya Pal et. al., Romance of the Taj Mahal (London and Los Angeles: Thames and Hudson; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1989), 10-11.

See Koch, 250. Tillotson, 112-14; 163.

The Lands of the Legends of Love: The Braj Circuit (Lucknow: Prakash Packagers, 2001). No author’s name is provided.

See Kajri Jain, “Monuments, Landscape and Romance in Indian Popular Imagery”http://tasveerghar.net/cmsdesk/essay/37/index_1.html (accessed September 25, 2010).

For Valentine cards, see Christiane Brosius, “The Rhythm of Romantic Love,”http://tasveerghar.net/cmsdesk/essay/92/ (accessed September 25, 2010). Another source of influence could be Christmas cards (editorial remark by CB). 

http://www.kamat.com/kalranga/itihas/rc_majumdar.htm (accessed July 24, 2010). I want to thank Sandria Freitag for bringing this to my attention. 

The sections on the Taj Mahal were not written by Majumdar, but by other scholars who tend to praise the building. They make virtually no mention of its Timurid prototypes, thus treating the Taj Mahal as wholly Indian. See S.K. Saraswati, “Mughal Architecture,” in The History and Culture of the Indian People, Vol. VII, ed. R.C. Majumdar (Bombay” Bharatiya Vidha Bhava, 1974), 793-99.

Koch, 34, 256-57.

10 Wayne E. Begley and Z.A. Desai, Taj Mahal: the Illumined Tomb: An Anthology of Seventeenth-Century Mughal and European Documentary Sources (Cambridge and Seattle: Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture and University of Washington Press, 1989), 296-98.

11 Tillotson, 91. Koch, 440-41.

12 Koch, 34, 231. Originally Bholanauth Chunder’s writings were published for a newspaper and then compiled as The Travels of a Hindoo to Various Parts of Bengal and Upper India, 2 vols. (London: Trubner & Co., 1869).

13 Chunder, I: 415-17. He mentions a Frenchman, but others argue that an Italian designed the Taj Mahal.

14 For example, see Begley and Desai 1989, 261-87.

15 Wayne E. Begley, “The Myth of the Taj Mahal and a New Theory of Its Symbolic Meaning,” Art Bulletin 61 (1979), 7-37. This essay’s arguments, while appealing to non-specialists, are not accepted by most scholars of Islamic art. See Koch, 250.

16 http://www.treggiardoantiques.com/collection.php?id=212&p=5&cat= (accessed August 7, 2010)

17 This is the source listed in the Priya Paul Collection’s database. However, I could find no reference to a Times of India Yearbook for 1937 so this information may be inaccurate.

18 http://extrascore.blogspot.com/2009/01/ncert-social-science-class-vii-history.html (accessed August 7, 2010)

19 See Koch, 246 for Tagore’s poem; for recent examples see: http://www.boloji.com/poetry/0400-0500/0449.htm orhttp://binaguptapoetry.com/shrine-of-love-taj-mahal-386.htm (accessed Oct. 11, 2010);http://forum.urduworld.com/f178/taj-mahal-207850/ (accessed July 28, 2010)

20 Tapati Guha-Thakurta, The Making of a New “Indian” Art: Artists, aesthetics and nationalism in Bengal, 1850-1920(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 244, 246-47. 

21 Tuli Neville et al., A Historical Epic: India in the Making, 1757-1950 (Mumbai: Osian’s, 2002), 267.

22 While these are often called Bale Labels this is incorrect. The proper name is textile ticket.http://johnjohnson.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/exporting-to-the-empire-labels-of-the-cotton-trade/#comments(accessed July 28, 2010)

23 Although this list is not exhaustive, several recent essays on the Tasveer Ghar web site focus on such imagery. These include Rosie Thomas, Still Magic” http://tasveerghar.net/cmsdesk/essay/103/index.html
Sabeena Gadihoke, “Selling Soap and Stardom: The Story of Lux,”http://tasveerghar.net/cmsdesk/essay/104/index.html; Sandria B. Freitag, “Consumption and Identity: Imagining ‘Everyday Life’ Through Popular Visual Culture” http://tasveerghar.net/cmsdesk/essay/96/index.html; Arvind Rajagopal, “The Commodity Image in the (Post) Colony” http://tasveerghar.net/cmsdesk/essay/100/index.html (each accessed September 25, 2010)

24 This observation remains tentative for relatively little is published. The John Johnson Collection of Ephemera at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, has one textile ticket with an image of the Taj Mahal and no other Mughal buildings, but this collection is still in the process of being scanned. A private collection owned by Adrian Wilson which has over 1000 tickets collected from Manchester remains unpublished. Seehttp://johnjohnson.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/exporting-to-the-empire-labels-of-the-cotton-trade/#comments(accessed July 28, 2010)

25 For the range of H.A. Mirza and Sons images, see: http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/indiaofficeselect/JointEnq.asp?pg=3(accessed August 7, 2010). Also see, Ali S. Asani and Carney E.S. Gavin, “Through the Lens of Mirza of Delhi: The Debbas Album of Early-Twentieth-Century Photographs of Pilgrimage Sites in Mecca and Medina,” Muqarnas 15 (1998), 178-99.

26 This is a popular view. For more recent scholarly ones see Catherine B. Asher and Cynthia Talbot, India before Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 221-31.

27 Although this calendar is a Common Era variety that fact that it commences in October of 1927 and ends with September 1928 suggests it follows a Hijra system and was intended for a Muslim clientele.

28 http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O113210/painting-portrait-of-shah-jahan-in/ (accessed July 30, 2010)

29 Anthony Webster, “Business and Empire: A Reassessment of the British Conquest in Burma in 1885,” The Historical Journal, 43, 4, 2000, 1003-25.

30 There are posters made specifically for a Muslim market. See Sandria Freitag, “South Asian ways of seeing, Muslim ways of Knowing” The Indian Muslim niche market in posters,” Indian Economic and Social History Review, 44/3 (2007), 297-331. She has in her own collection a poster of Buraq, the winged horse which transported the prophet Muhammad to heaven, with the Taj Mahal. In the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera in the Bodleian [shelf mark: Labels 16 (105a)], there is a textile ticket issued by William Bell & Company clearly aimed at a Muslim audience. It depicts a seated bearded man playing a stringed instrument flanked by images of stars and crescent moons as well as coins with undecipherable Arabic script. The text is in English, Hindi and Gujarati. The Sugata Ray and Atreyee Gupta Collection has matchbox covers with Ottoman Pashas made for an Indian Muslim audience.

31 For a discussion of some of these new narratives, see Tim Edensor, Tourists at the Taj: Performance and Meaning at a Symbolic Site (New York and London: Routledge, 1998), 82-104.

32 Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, John Johnson Collection: Dioramas 1 (76).

33 James Fergusson, History of Indian and Eastern Architecture, 2 vol. 2nd ed. rev. James Burgess and R. Phene Spiers (London: John Murray, 1910), II:284; 316. The first edition appeared in 1876.

34 E.B. Havell, Indian Architecture: Its Psychology, Structure and History from the First Muhammadan Invasion to the Present Day (London: John Murray, 1913), 13-34.

35 Oak has any number of followers, many of whom are Hindu nationalists. Although I am loath to cite Wikipedia, the entry on Oak is informative: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purushottam_Nagesh_Oak (accessed September 25, , 2010)
One of his most vociferous supporters is an American, Stephen Knapp. Information about Knapp is accessible on the following website: http://www.stephen-knapp.com/ (accessed July 31, 2010)

36 An examples is: http://www.stephen-knapp.com/was_the_taj_mahal_a_vedic_temple.htm (accessed July 31, 2010)

37 http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A5220 (accessed July 31, 2010)

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