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Posts tagged ‘marsiya-khwani’

The Tawa’ifs of Lucknow

By Nishat Haider
When the court and capital of Awadh was shifted from Faizabad to Lucknow by Asaf al-Daulah in 1775, Lucknow became the locus of tawaif-bazi (courtesan culture). In his book Tarrikh-e-Farahbaksh, Mohammad Faiz Baksh observed that the decline of Mughal Empire in the last quarter of the eighteenth century led to the mass exodus of female performers, tawaifs, nautch girls, the poets and artists from Delhi to Lucknow. Ensconced in the lavish houses in the bazaars of Chowk and Qaiserbagh, the tawa’ifs established themselves as a notable group of women in the eighty-odd years that the Awadh dynasty had Lucknow as its capital city, under the extravagant patronage of the Nawab, the connoisseurs of art, noblemen, merchants, and the elite. The tawa’ifs are not simply prostitutes or entertainers.

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