Monday, November 28, 2011

Scholarship (1)

Bābur remarked in his memoirs about his uncle Sulṭān-Maḥmūd Mīrzā something that I believe applies much too often to many academics, who perhaps under pressure from the Publish or Perish academic paradigm, produce articles and even books that would have benefited from deeper and broader research. Work that suffers, to use a metaphor, from having the teabag not steep long enough in the water.

He wrote that Sulṭān-Maḥmūd Mīrzā "had poetical ability and made a divan, but his poetry was weak and flat. He composed too much; he probably should have composed less” (Bābur-nāmah, tr. Thackston, Modern Library edition, p. 31). Annette Beveridge's translation is perhaps more brutal, but equally apt: "He had a taste for poetry and put a dīwān together but his verse is flat and insipid,--not to compose is better than to compose verse such as his" (AB trans, vol. I p. 46). 

Update: this article was brought to my attention by a Maghribist and I thought it germane to this post.

Lynn Worsham, "Fast Food Scholarship," The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 12, 2011; accessed online December 14, 2011. Available online: <>

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Welcome to all those who have randomly stumbled across this blog. It is intended to be a majmaʿ, or repository of sorts, of all things Mughal, or curious and delightful finds that may be of interest to a Mughalist, lay or trained. It's likely to reflect my random interests in Mughal history than necessarily more popular or pressing issues of Mughal historiography, and its likely not to be overly articulate as I tend not to be, but I promise to not adorn my prose like those I study. And so, as people often say, a picture is worth more than a thousand words I shall introduce a telling (and pertinent, considering the recent  and uneven spate of work on early Mughal India and women during this time period) one of Bābur seeking the advice of his grandmother, Esän Dawlat Begim, regarding the rebellious Ḥasan Yaʿqūb. Bābur said of her "Few amongst women will have been my grandmother's equals for judgment and counsel; she was very wise and far-sighted and most affairs of mine were carried through under her advice." (Annette Beveridge's translation of the Bābur-nāmah from Chagatay Turkish, vol. I p. 43). 

Morgan Museum MS M.458.18.
Artist: Sānvalah (fl. 1580s–1590s).
The image is from the Morgan Museum's website for their Islamic Manuscripts collection.