Auteur : Nandini Chatterjee

Lawforms website launch

Dr Elizabeth Thelen As the Lawforms project drew to a close in April, the project team launched the website Lawforms: Digitised Legal Documents from the Indo-Persian World. The site was designed to serve a wide range of teaching and research uses. While the edited and translated documents form the core of the site, there’s much more there – from maps and introductory essays to a glossary and the xml files for all the documents included on the site. There’s much to explore on the … Continue reading “Lawforms website launch”

Work experience with the Lawforms project

Guest post by a high school student on work placement As part of my work experience in February 2022, I was able to enjoy two days behind the scenes of the Lawforms project. I knew very little about Islamic history during the period the research was concerned with, and even less about the legal culture of this early Indo-Persian world, so in reading over the documents and essays and products of five years of the researchers’ hard work, I was able both to acquire … Continue reading “Work experience with the Lawforms project”

A Lawforms Project Munshat?

Creating a model document for orders to reconfirm charitable land grants (madad-i maʿash) By Elizabeth Thelen As rapidly becomes clear when reading a pile of parvanas (or other Persian documents all of one type), stock vocabulary, phrases, and even whole sentences or more were repeatedly deployed in these documents. Understanding the uses and legal meaning of such formulas is one of the main pillars of investigation of the Lawforms Project. Nandini Chatterjee’s recent article on the interrelated documents of binding and releasing obligations known … Continue reading “A Lawforms Project Munshat?”

Book Award for Lawforms PI Prof. Nandini Chatterjee

Prof. Nandini Chatterjee, Principal Investigator of the Lawforms Project, recently received the Peter Gonville Stein Book Award from the American Society for Legal History for her book Negotiating Mughal Law: A Family of Landlords Across Three Empires. The award honours the “best book in legal history (written in English) outside the field of US legal history, published during the previous calendar year.” The award committee described the book as: a wonderful combination of philology, imagination, archive sleuthing, and sharp intelligence. Based on a painstakingly … Continue reading “Book Award for Lawforms PI Prof. Nandini Chatterjee”

Of Camels and Crime Prevention: state support for trade at an annual fair in 18th-century western India

Elizabeth Thelen Reposted from the Economic and Social History seminar blog, University of Exeter On the 24th of November 1778, Hindumal Singhvi, a career administrator for the kingdom of Marwar in western India, issued the following royal order to the officials of the magistracy (kotwali chauntara) in the city of Nagaur: Since the watchman’s footmen are always sent to the Mundwa fair (mela), accordingly send [them] so that they shall protect [it]. At last year’s fair, three to four thefts occurred. On this account, … Continue reading “Of Camels and Crime Prevention: state support for trade at an annual fair in 18th-century western India”

The Vigat Catalogues and Family Archives in Rajasthan

By Elizabeth Thelen In Rajasthani, the term ‘vigat’ is used commonly to refer to an account, details, explanation or list. It finds broad use in seventeenth and eighteenth-century records. The vigat of metal utensils supplied to a royal household listed the number and value of each object sent; officials asked for vigatvar (detailed) descriptions of disputes before deciding who was in the right; stray lists of facts, such as the names of the chief forts of Marwar, were titled vigat and frequently included in … Continue reading “The Vigat Catalogues and Family Archives in Rajasthan”

ECSAS conference July 2021 : Magic texts

Reported by Nandini Chatterjee The European Association for South Asian Studies had postponed its annual conference of 2020. It was held online in July 2021. The Lawforms project organised a panel looking at texts whose meanings, effects and power extended far beyond their actual written content. We decided collectively, with generous scholars externally collaborating with the project, that such texts act as talismans: their compressed texts, symbols and graphics endow them with powers that were magical. Some of these texts were directly about magic … Continue reading “ECSAS conference July 2021 : Magic texts”

Privy Council Papers and Historical Narratives of the Ajmer Dargah

By Elizabeth Thelen In the twentieth century, two cases regarding the management of the Dargah (shrine) of Sufi saint Mu’in al-Din Chishti were appealed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The first, Appeal No. 8 of 1936, Syed Altaf Hussain and Others vs. Diwan Syed Ale Rasul Ali Khan and Others, was about rights to pilgrim’s offerings at the shrine.  The second, Appeal No. 36 of 1945, Syed Asrar Ahmed vs. The Durgah Committee Ajmer, concerned the hereditary nature of the post … Continue reading “Privy Council Papers and Historical Narratives of the Ajmer Dargah”

Red fort documents: Edward Colebrooke’s letter

Posted by Nandini Chatterjee On behalf of Prof. Chander Shekhar The Red Fort’s collection of Persian documents continues to tell us much about the colonial use of the Persian language and the evolution of letter-writing and legal drafting styles. The mammoth series, Calendar of Persian Correspondence, recently republished by Primus books with introductions and annotations by Professor Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, have alerted scholars to the continued used of Persian for diplomatic purposes. In a previous post, a letter to Maharaja Ranjit Singh … Continue reading “Red fort documents: Edward Colebrooke’s letter”

Red fort documents: discoveries by Prof. Chander Shekhar

Nandini Chatterjee on behalf of Prof. Chander Shekhar,  Director. Lal Bahadur Shastri Centre for Indian Culture Embassy of India  Prof. Chander Shekhar has opened up a previously unseen collection of Persian documents, currently stored at the Red Fort, Delhi, India. These documents from the first part of the nineteenth century offer an enriching glimpse into the continued use of Persian under English East India Company rule. They also offer insights into the use of evolving forms of Persian correspondence between the reduced Mughal court, … Continue reading “Red fort documents: discoveries by Prof. Chander Shekhar”

Documents and diplomacy: a conversation

    Participants Nandini Chatterjee, University of Exeter Guido van Meersbergen, University of Warwick Leonard Hodges, King’s College London Callie Wilkinson, University of Warwick Dominic Vendell, University of Exeter This past Thursday, 25 March, as we await better opportunities to resume crossing borders – physical, disciplinary and otherwise – a group of scholars working on issues related to diplomacy in South Asia gathered to discuss the current and future state of diplomatic history. More than twenty years on from the earliest statements on the … Continue reading “Documents and diplomacy: a conversation”

Opening up family collections: Discovery of three 18th-century legal documents from the Nawab family of Kamboh, near Meerut, north India

Nandini Chatterjee of behalf of Prof. Chander Shekhar Prof. Chander Shekhar, currently Director of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Centre for Indian Culture, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and senior advisor of the Lawforms project, has been opening up exciting new collections of materials despite the difficulties imposed by the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. During a visit to India in December-January 2020-21, Prof. Chander Shekhar found three Persian documents related to the illustrious Nawab family of Kamboh. This family had held position and titles in the area for several … Continue reading “Opening up family collections: Discovery of three 18th-century legal documents from the Nawab family of Kamboh, near Meerut, north India”

Document case studies series: ‘Death in service: compensation for loss of life in late Mughal (eighteenth-century) India’

Nandini Chatterjee Reposted from Economic and Social History seminar blog, University of Exeter This post begins by looking at a legal document – one related to employment, or violent termination there of. In the case under study, the person employed had been killed in the course of his work, and the female members of his family sought compensation from his employer for this loss to their key manpower resources. By looking at the document in detail, I am going to open up some questions about … Continue reading “Document case studies series: ‘Death in service: compensation for loss of life in late Mughal (eighteenth-century) India’”

The Dutch Zamindar and his Paper Zamindari: Studying the Pattas of Bengal

By Byapti Sur It was an unusually bright sunny day instead of the grey skies and rain in the Netherlands when I walked into Het Nationaal Archief in The Hague and Johan van Langen in his function as advisor to the Shared Cultural Heritage Programme introduced me to the hitherto unresearched world of pattas in Bengal. I learnt that the original collection was in the West Bengal State Archives (WBSA) in Kolkata but I could work with digital copies of the pattas and my … Continue reading “The Dutch Zamindar and his Paper Zamindari: Studying the Pattas of Bengal”

Deciphering registration notes from the early modern western Deccan

By Dominic Vendell As we have been encoding Persian legal documents from South Asia for online publication, I have become accustomed to spending long hours staring at scribbles. But I have also been thinking more about clerical notes scribbled on the margins or versos of documents. Such notes were intended for a specialised audience of clerical officials – an audience in the know, as it were – so they are often difficult to decipher, and usually ignored by historians in search of the ‘evidence’ … Continue reading “Deciphering registration notes from the early modern western Deccan”

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