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Complex Layers of Interconnections

Shivangini Tandon

Edited by Francesca Orsini  and Samira Sheikh
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2014, pp. xii 500, Rs. 1350.00


Amidst the resurgence of regional and local forces, the poets, performers, merchants and scribes found new and diverse sources of patronage, and as they travelled around in search of patrons and opportunities, they came in touch with, and interacted with new ideas and worldviews, creating in the pro­cess a hybrid and multilingual space. The work explores this hybrid space that had come into existence through complex layers of in­terconnections between political formations and cultural production during the fifteenth century. In looking at the multilingual cul­ture of the fifteenth century, it looks at the process of vernacularization, and there are several important pieces in the volume that deal with the nature, extent and diffusion of vernacular linguistic/literary trends. There are two fascinating essays that deal with the Awadhi sufi romances. The first one by Ramya Sreenivasan looks at the political context that informed these narratives, and views them as emerging from the political conflicts and warrior ethos that informed the political culture of the period. Her essay is focused on an intensive study of three ‘war­rior tales’: Mawlana Daud’s Candayan, Narayandas’s Chitai-Carita and Malik Jayasi’s Pdamavat. Examining the three narratives, her essay reveals the significance of local rul­ers and warrior chieftains in fostering the Hindavi linguistic tradition in the fifteenth century. (‘Warrior-Tales at Hinterland Courts in North India, c. 1370–1550’, pp. 242– 272). The other essay is by Aditya Behl who looks at Shaikh Qutban Suhrawardi’s Mirigavati to highlight the cultural hybrid­ity of the period. Entitled, ‘Emotion and Meaning in Mirigavati: Strategies of Spiri­tual Signification in Hindavi Sufi Romances’, his piece looks at the spiritual significations of these Hindavi romances, and the complex reading practices that provided meanings to these texts among the sufis and their hos­pices (khanqahs). (pp. 273–298). There are several essays in the volume that highlight the persistence of courtly lan­guages and literary culture in the fifteenth century. While the shift towards the vernacu­lar is unmistakable, courtly languages, in par­ticular Sanskrit and Persian were also thriv­ing during the period. There are two essays, one by Dilorom Karomat (pp. 130–165) and the other by Stefano Pello (pp. 166– 185) that examine the Persian lexicons; both of them point out that Persian was an inclu­sive language, and increasingly in the 15th century, it was incorporating words, meta­phors, images and similes from the Hindawi linguistic tradition. Their essays throw ...

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