Overview of Chapter J : Presents the life of the Mughal princess who commanded significant power in the Mughal court, especially after her father, Shah Jahan, went into mourning when Jahanara’s mother died. The chapter devotes considerable attention to the similarities and differences between Mughal and Ottoman royal women, focusing on power dynamics and the architectural expressions of that dynamic. The chapter also discusses Sufism, Sikhism, and the controversial reign emperor Aurangzeb.
1. How did Jahanara and her world differ from that of Kösem and hers?
2. Think about another situation when a royal family bitterly divides in a succession dispute. What parallels do you see between the Mughal experience in 1658-1659 and others?
1. The chapter discusses Sikhism and the ways in which its founder, Guru Nanak, struggled to find spiritual fulfillment in Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, or other religions. Learn more about what this journey would be like by:
a) reading statements by Sikh leaders;
b) comparing these statements to quotations from the Bible, the Qu'ran, and other religious texts.
c) building your own a table of comparison using the primary sources instead of relying on existing comparative websites.
2) The chapter mentions a connection between the Mughals and the Mongols in terms of female leadership. Explore this connection more fully. What parallels are there between the experience of 13th century Mongol women and Jahanara?
• For an analysis of texts Shah Jahan recorded to document his architectural legacy and a discussion of property law in the Mughal era, see: Ebba Koch, “Palaces, Gardens and Property Rights under Shah Jahan: Architecture as a Window into Mughal Legal Custom and Practice,” The Mughal Empire from Jahangir to Shah Jahan, Ebba Koch and Ali Anooshahr (eds.) (Mumbai: Marg Foundation, 2019), 197-219.
Map for Chapter J: This map by the author is in the print edition of the book and shows the places that were important to Jahanara or mentioned in the chapter.
Portrait of Shah Jahan c. 1640: This alabaster portrait sculpted by an unknown artist dates from between 1630-1650. Courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam,
Portrait of Dara Shikoh, Eldest Son of Shah Jahan, drawing by anonymous, 1686, courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, RP-T-00-3186-8
Portrait of Aurangzeb, c. 1695, Photograph by the author in the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, March 2016. The Emperor is holding a rose in his left hand, which represents his cultural sophistication. This portrayal contrasts with how he has been seen historically. Recent scholarship finds that Aurangzeb is a more complex figure than his traditional reputation.
“Imaginary Meeting of Guru Nanak, Mardana Sahab, and Other Sikh Gurus,” watercolor by anonymous, c. 1780, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles