عنوان مقاله [English]
The deep and long-standing connections between India and the Persian language and the prevalence of the Persian language in India before the arrival of the British and their dominance over India, are undeniable. The Indian Muslim dynasties, from the east to the south and east of India encouraged and cultivated the Persian language, although some of them did not have Iranian roots. The production and compilation of numerous works in Persian, such as historical and translated books to Divans and lexicons etc., in the subcontinent confirms this point. Some of these works have been lucky enough to be edited and published, but there are still plenty of works in Persian by Indian scholars and literary men, that are part of Persian heritage, which remain as manuscripts in various private or general libraries and collections in India and around the world, and editing and publishing them is vital.
Among these works is a treatise named Abniyah-ye Hind, introducing the buildings of the city of Ahmadabad, the builders and the date of construction of each building. The geographers, historians and travel writers in the old times, in description of cities, after an overall assessment of the city, introduced urban structures such as markets, palaces, baths, mosques and other buildings of the city, and sometimes the founders and makers and the date of their constructions (Tavassoli, 1393/2014: 41ff). The purpose of writing of this treatise is not known, but it is likely that the work would have been produced in response to a request from a king, an emir or a ruler, or for use in a larger work in history, geography or travelogue. However, what is in hand is ten pages, describing antiquated urban structures of Ahmedabad in India. This manuscript was likely larger than today’s version, yet this short remaining part has great importance, particularly when it comes to the historical, geographical and urbanistic perspectives, as well as in demonstrating the influence of Islam and the Persian language in India. Therefore editing of this short manuscript seems vital.
2- Research and edition methodology
Since this is the only version of this manuscript, a deductive method of editing was used on it, meaning little-to-no changes were made to the text, except to smooth out inconsistencies and correct verbal and linguistic mistakes, allowing the readers to gain better understanding.
- Today’s rules of the Persian orthography, in accordance with the suggested approach of the Iranian Academy of Persian Language and Literature, have been followed, especially writing independent words, unbound.
- In the manuscript, some words had been written based on Indian letters (vocals and consonants) such as ‘ṭanke’ (ﭨانکه), ‘baḍa’ (ﺑﮉا), ‘varre (ﻭﺍﮌﻩ); we rewrote them in common Persian letters.
- Utilising authoritative sources, historical mistakes were corrected and explained in the section of ‘explanations’.
Ahmedabad, the largest city of Gujarat in the west of India, and the fifth most populous city of the sub-continent was founded in 1411 by Sultan Ahmad Shah Gujarati (r:1411-1442) from the Mozaffarid dynasty of Gujarat, on the bank of the Sabarmati river, to be the capital of the Gujarat dynasty. During the British colonial times, the city became modernized and its infrastructures expanded. In 1960, with the formation of the Gujarat state and its independence from Mumbai, Ahmedabad became the commercial center of Gujarat (see Bloom&Blair, 2009 and Michell&Shah, 2003).
In the present work, the unknown author describes forty-five antiquated buildings of Ahmadabad, their constructers and the dates of construction, focusing more on the mosques and schools. The name of the manuscript is not known as well as the name of its author and its time of creation, but some speculations suggest that it was written in 19th century. The work reaches ten pages, written in Nastaʿlīq and cursive script; its size is 19.4 × 29.3 cm; each page is divided into six parts, with each part being assigned to one building. Sometimes, in addition to the construction date of a building, a poem is also brought as a chronogram. The oldest building described in the work is the castle of Ahmedabad dating from 1411 and the newest is a mosque outside the ‘Delhi Gate’ dating from 1772/3 (see: Muhaddis, 2011: 277-8). The manuscript, Abniyah-ye Hind, is held at the Library of Uppsala University (Sweden) with the number ‘O Nov. 514 (Zn. 403)’.
7-1- Features of manuscript
- The most obvious orthographical feature of the manuscript is bound writing.
- Inconsistency and fickleness in orthography such as showing “G” (گ), with both “G” (گ) and “K” (ک), writing one word in two forms such as “Gonbad” (گنبد) and “Gonbaḍ” (گنبذ) (= dome), showing the dates by both numbers and letters, and in the case of dates by letters, both bound and unbound writing are used like “نه صد” and “نهصد”.
- Sometimes inconsistencies and effects of Arabic syntax are seen in the sentences and the expressions, such as matching adjectives and their names such as ‘Raoza-ye Shahia’ (روضهی شاهیه), ‘Salatin-e Gujaratiyya’ (سلاطین گجراتیه), as well as bringing female predicate to female subject.
- Using Indian words such as ‘Bigeh’ (بیگه): meaning certain measure of land equal to 48 yards (Nafisi, 1976), ‘Tanke’ (تانکه) meaning water storage (ʻAlī Muḥammad Khān, 1928: 136), ‘Chekle’ (چکله) meaning small market (ibid: 8, Footnote 2), ‘Chouki’ (چوکی) meaning platform and seats (Dehkhoda, 1999), ‘Laka’ (لکه) meaning A hundred thousand (Nafisi, ibid), ‘Mahmoudi’ (محمودی) A kind of silver coin (ibid); furthermore occasionally, words have been written with folksy pronunciations such as "minar" (مینار) instead of "menar" (منار).
7-2- Text in brief
The first described building is the foundation of the castle of Ahmadabad, and the last is a tomb and a mosque on ‘Raste-ye Jamalpur’; and in the middle forty three urban constructions are described such as King's Gardens, Kankiri lagoon (Qotbi pool); the tombs of Sultan Ahmad, Shah Abu Torab and ‘Musa Sohag’ places; and the dome and platforms of King's Gardens; adobe large dome; the tombs of Sultan Ahmad’s wives and children, the Dada Hari’s Baoli (a kind of well with a large crater for people to access water); some schools and several mosques.
The interesting point is that only a few of these mosques have a name or reputation, such as the “Masjed-e A’la” i.e. the largest mosque and the mosque known as the ‘Achhut Coukie’, ‘one and a half minaret mosque’, however, the majority of mosques, which do not have a name, are described based on their locations and the materials used in their building, such as the stone mosque near the gate of Kharu. Another interesting point is that usually several urban constructions such as mosques, schools, monasteries, lagoons and ponds have been built near or connected to each other.
Since manuscripts are always the first-hand and fundamental resources in researches, the edition of them is indispensable. The present manuscript, buildings of India, is a unique, eloquent, privileged and brief work from which in addition to getting acquainted with the city of Ahmedabad and some of its history and geography, one can obtain information on the depth and extent of the influence of Islam and of the Persian language and literature in that region. The abundance of mosques and their related buildings such as tanks and the introduction of each building in Persian, are proof of the above-mentioned claim.
In addition to the historical and geographical information on the buildings of Ahmedabad, which is very important, this brief work offers a clear picture of the Persian language that was common in India as well as the extend of Indian Farsi writers’ knowledge of Farsi and their style of prose. A prose combined with Indian vocabulary and pronunciation, occasionally with a chronogram in poetry, and at the same time, simple and far from the linguistic and literary complexities. Because of having these special linguistic and literary features that are intriguing in terms of vocabulary, grammar, and style of the Farsi language common in India at that time, this work could be the basis for future research in the field of historical geography as well as in linguistic and literary research.
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