Kolkata

A date with a Nawab’s calendar

The calendar in Persian script reflects the varied interests of Wajid Ali Shah, the last king of Awadh. Photo: Sushanta Patranabish

The calendar in Persian script reflects the varied interests of Wajid Ali Shah, the last king of Awadh. Photo: Sushanta Patranabish  

Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata is displaying Wajid Ali Shah’s work for the first time.

A rare calendar prepared by Wajid Ali Shah, the last king of Awadh, will be on display for the first time at the Victoria Memorial Hall here.

The museum has selected it as the “Object of the Month”, a piece which it bought for Rs. 50 in 1912.

“The calendar in Persian script reflects the varied interest of Wajid Ali Shah in poetry, music and performing arts,” Jayanta Sengupta, secretary and curator of the hall, told The Hindu.

Touch of elegance

The Nawab personally readied the calendar with help from a calligrapher, Syed Mohammed Mehdi Khan. He brought it to Kolkata when he had to leave Awadh, Gholam Nabi, Head, Documentation and Photography, of the hall, said.

The Nawab used the calendar for the rest of his life, each of its 44 pages featuring two months within a dimension of 26.6x40.5 cm and containing 15 to 31 lines. Four pages have been displayed in the Prince Hall of the museum.

“He used this for personal reference and to decide which day was right for undertaking auspicious work. He even decided marriages in the family on the basis of the calendar,” Mr. Nabi said.

The Nawab’s forefathers were interested in astronomy and astrology ever since, it is believed, Will Cox, an astronomer, met Saadat Ali Khan, the first Nawab of Awadh. The Victoria Memorial has Musammi-Ba-Banni, a book on Indian dance written by Wajid Ali Shah and printed at Metiabruz here. After losing his kingdom, the Nawab came here in 1856 and died in 1887.

The museum has a miniature portrait of the Nawab in ivory, presented to it by the Maharaja of Benaras in 1912. A few decades ago, the museum bought silver coins issued by the Nawab and his forefathers.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 10:25:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/kolkata-museum-displaying-wajid-ali-shahs-work-for-the-first-time/article7106606.ece

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