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The Mirror of Beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi

The Mirror of Beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi is 952 pages long and as it goes with most historical works, the detailed description cannot be avoided. From the intricate and vibrant Kishangarh miniatures to the rich world of carpet weaving in Kashmir and the Mughal era of the 19th century, this book takes the reader on a journey that enthrals and captivates.

Through the story of the beautiful Wazir Khanum, the author illuminates a world of literary, artistic and cultural extravagance spanning almost 2 centuries.
With a highlighter in hand, I enjoyed marking the rubais and verses of Mir Taqi Mir, Mirza Ghalib, Mirza Dagh, Hafiz and so many countless masters of Persian, Arabic, Urdu and Hindi poetry. The subtle references to ghazals and ragas left me wanting to research more and explore the world of Hindi and Urdu Poetry from Hindustan.
The story ends with yet another lost love for Wazir Khanum, but it draws our attention to the station occupied by women in the subcontinent even now. There are still many regions where women do not enjoy freedom of choice and any step taken outside the parameters set by the male dominant society are looked down upon. Wazir Khanum is portrayed as a woman who was brave enough to make the choices she deemed favourable and someone who bore the rejection of the society that she did not conform to.
I would have liked to know more about her. The book left me hungry for more. It awakens the desire to read the original in Urdu and dive into the world of subcontinental poetry during the Mughal period.
This unique masterpiece is a must read for history and Indo-Persian literature enthusiasts.

Rating 4/5
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This entry was posted on September 1, 2014 by in Book Reviews, Fiction, translation and tagged .
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