Pasha Mohamad Khan deposited Marvellous histories: Reading the Shāhnāmah in India on Humanities Commons 1 year, 6 months ago
This article considers the reception and genre of the Shāhnāmah in India. It takes as its starting-point comments made by the poet Mirza Asad Allah Khan Ghalib in 1866, moving on to look at a Mughal Shāhnāmah adaptation, the Tarikh-i dil-gusha-i Shamsher-Khani, and its Urdu translations, as well as other Persian, Urdu and Arabic texts. It investigates the (mis)identification of the Shāhnāmah’s genre, looking at cases in which it was understood as historiographical rather than as a romance, and seeking an explanation for this ‘contamination’ of the sincere genre of history by the mendacious romance genre. A methodological split in the historiographical corpus is proposed, between a rationalist (‘aqli) and transmission-based (naqli) method. The contest between these two methods is considered, and the prevalence of transmission-based history and its similarity to romance is brought forward as a possible reason for the porousness of the border between these ostensibly opposing genres.