Recovering an archive of women’s voices : Durga Prasad Nadir’s "Tażkirāt ul-Nissāy-e Nādrī"




Amer, Sundas

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Durga Prasad Nadir’s “Tażkirāt ul-Nissāy-e Nādrī” is the second Urdu tażkirah (biographical compendium) to engage with women authors of Urdu and Persian poetry over the ages. The text was published between 1876 and 1884 in Delhi, India, and collates biographical information on women poets from India and Iran along with samples of their poetry. In this report, I argue that Nadir’s tażkirah is an important appraisal of women’s contributions to the arts and sciences that, while presented in a patriarchal and reformist mold, values women above all for their skills and accomplishments. I investigate how Nadir’s socio-cultural milieu and his personal, professional, and educational background come to bear on his analysis and treatment of women poets and scholars. Finally, I translate sections in the tażkirah devoted to Mah Laqa Bai Chanda (1768-1824), considered the first woman to have authored a dīvān, or collection of poetry, in Urdu. I compare Nadir’s treatment of Mah Laqa with contemporary analyses to demonstrate how his approach influenced later understandings of the poet within the Urdu tradition.



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