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The Eternal Dastur Craft- A History of Mannerism, Social Groups and Formation of Amber-Jaipur State Early Eighteenth to Late Nineteenth Century

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Item Code: NAX382
Author: Manisha Chaudhry
Language: English
Edition: 2020
ISBN: 9789390022496
Pages: 246
Other Details 9.50 X 6.50 inch
Weight 510 gm
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Book Description
About The Book

Rituals-loosely defined as symbolically meaningful action-pervaded medieval society, up and down the social strata. Royal courts were a constant arena of ritual movements. Who was positioned higher than whom, who sat where, who exchanged what with whom, whose hand turned, a gift rendered and a counter gift returned, all these are suggestive of the language of gestures and indicative of the power and delicacy of rituals.

The Eternal Dastur Craft is a study of the Rajlok, Khojas of the state and the political and religious dignitaries and protocol applied to them in the court of the Jaipur State from early eighteenth to late nineteenth century. While appearing in court, the protocol laid out for different social groups depended on the status of the individuals and their castes. Interestingly, in this limited sphere also, the state accommodated nearly all the sections, clans and castes in the court. Being attached to the court, political and religious groups became representative of the court and exercised political pressure.

Overtly, social transformation and mannerisms dictated court protocol, and this volume highlights the civilizing process and history of mannerisms in the State of Jaipur during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, concentrating on the influential personalities who participated in the Jaipur Darbar.

About the Author

Manisha Choudhary teaches at the Department of History, University of Delhi, and specializes in the history of medieval India and Rajasthan. She has explored the social and economic contributions of the Banjara community in precolonial states in her book Trade, Transport and Tanda: Shifting Identities of the Banjaras (2018). She has also published Delhi: A Concise History (2020). Her project, ‘The depiction of multi-faceted lifestyles in the bhiti-chitrakari of Setho ka Ramgarh and Nawalgarh havelis: A study into popular knowledge system and role of traders’ was funded by the Research and Development Grant awarded by the University of Delhi. She has also been a Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla.


AROUND THE LATE ancient times, the evolution of Rajputization began in the Indian subcontinent, also impacting the kingdom of Amber. The ruling family of this kingdom claim to be the descendants of Kush, son of Ram (the hero of the great Indian epic Ramayana), and came to be known as Kachhwahas after his name. The Kachhwahas are of the Rajawat clan, a senior-sub-clan of Suryavanshi Rajputs. The offshoot in the sub-clan of Rajawat gave Kachhwahas the right to be the heir of the Amber kingdom. Earlier, the Meenas ruled in the surrounding of Amber, however, a Kachhwaha ruler named Dulha Rao won over the territory by fighting wars and laid the foundation of the Amber kingdom in AD 1037. Interestingly, till the sixteenth century, the kingdom of Amber was a small territory with few villages. The rule of the Kachhwahas grew tremendously after their political alliance with the Mughal Emperor Akbar, which happened through a matrimonial affiance.

Historically, Jaipur was a much-discussed state due to its association with the Mughals who ruled the Indian subcontinent effectively for nearly two centuries. The legacy of the central state (Mughals) was carried forward by the various states-Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Hyderabad, Awadh, Bharatpur (Jats) Marathas and the Sikh state-that carved out themselves as independent political units from the large Mughal Empire during the eighteenth century. These states are classified into two categories, namely the autonomous states and the rebellion states. Amongst all these contemporary states, the most popular and much debated is the nature of the Jaipur state due to its close association with the Mughal administration and the family ties that were formed through matrimonial alliances. Presently, this state attracts a host of tourists due to its architectural grandeur and its vast extent from the hills of Amber to the western end of the walled city.

The Eternal Dastur Craft is an effort to understand the city of Jaipur and the processes of the historical state formation of Amber Jaipur through archival documents. This book is an outcome of a long research on a unique type of document known as the Dastur Komwar preserved at the Rajasthan State Archives, Bikaner. Much of the material regarding the technology and the layout of the city was collected during various tours to the city. The visits to the temples and the old city markets were of great help to get an idea about the political functioning of the state which was set in for seeking legitimacy from the different groups who acted as the participants of the state. This book took shape around the queries that I came across from various scholars and tourists about the formation of the state, its state formation processes, organization of the city, and various constructions in the city. One does not find about the political processes and happenings in and around the state or in the information provided at the city's monuments. Due to the lack of proper documentation, scattered happenings and activities of the state, its agents and the political partners appear as a set of haphazard events to the inquisitor. So, this work is an attempt to weave an even texture of the various simultaneous activities of these actors along with a chronological sequence in order to answer the queries around the process of state formation and to highlight the role of actors and partners of the state.

This book is divided into seven chapters around the actors of the state. The initial chapter is a presentation of the political functioning of the state and its apparatuses. The following five chapters are dedicated to the actors and the partners of the state who were either family members, service class, royal gentry, political leaders, religious heads, or the outsiders who had a role in the state. The last chapter is a study of the procedures that were put in place to establish court protocol and a prescribed set of mannerism which eventually laid the foundation for social ordering in the Amer Jaipur court Through all these efforts, the state was trying to make the court a replica of the larger social mosaic over which it was ruling. Indirectly, it was also a mechanism to provide representation to the larger populace and to make them feel accommodated in the activities of the state. The aim behind these efforts in the eighteenth-century Jaipur state was to seek legitimacy from the alternate sources, which was essential in absence of the powerful centre that functioned during the Mughal rule.

Any subject of study grows in a space. Over time that space becomes a universe and as we relate to the subject, we also learn to relate to that limited universe effectively. This work has also gone through the same process. For a long time, the city of Jaipur and its surroundings became a space for me to relate. Unnumbered visits to the city, its forts, its temples and its markets have allowed for explorations and provided much time to think about and relate with the events that were either staged or happened in those spaces. All through the research work I have tried to engage with varied, engaging, controversial, authoritative and playful personalities, who have never been treated in the main themes of history writings. I believe the interweaving of the characters and their roles in the history of state formation will interest the readers as it will provide a different flavour of history, Inshallah Beyond it this work is one of the means to understand the effect of the fall of the Mughals during the eighteenth century on the various participants who were part of the larger Mughal Empire. Further, it investigates the efforts and mechanisms that were initiated and employed by the breaking away units (state/kingdoms) who were trying to create spaces of their own, for which they never made any effort during the Mughals' heyday. From this work, I hope to get acknowledgment for the participants of the state and to give a history of Jaipur state (of the eighteenth century) that is marked by highly nuanced processes of mannerism and social ordering. The study of these processes has led to the penning of The Eternal Dastur Craft With all the efforts, delimitations, standards and research in place, I am hopeful that the readers will find this work of history captivating.


THE CONCERNS AROUND the court sociability have inspired the,historians to emphasize on the behaviour of men and women in the court and the specific circles where the king was always in the centre and on top of the hierarchy. This work is a study of the political and religious dignitaries in the court protocol of the Jaipur state from early-eighteenth to early-nineteenth century. Overtly, the social transformation and mannerism were guiding the court protocol. This being a relatively fresh theme of research relating to the Jaipur state, an attempt has been made to confine this work to the influential political dignitaries who visited the Jaipur darbar (court) from time to time. At the court, hundreds of people were bound together in one place by peculiar restraints which they applied to each other. A more or less fixed hierarchy, a precise etiquette bound them together. A specific distribution of power, socially instilled needs and relationships of dependence made them constantly converge at the court. This led to the foundation of a peculiar kind of court society. One of the objectives of this study is to test the correctness of the view that the court society was the microcosm of the larger society. Did the social formation of the court society signify a certain stage in the development of society in general Did it form the tip of a society articulated hierarchically in all its manifestations.

There is no gainsaying the fact that economic success and political sophistication of the Mughal Empire were based on the careful keeping of the records and enough literacy to take advantage of them. This sea of archival and manuscript survival is of fundamental importance. This tradition was continued by the post-Mughal Rajput states and the Marathas. A plethora and variety of records are preserved and classified in the Rajasthan State Archives at Bikaner. The source that is fundamental for our understanding of court society and court protocol is called Dastur Komwar. They are almost unique to Jaipur and little exists resembling them elsewhere.

In the last few decades there has been an outpouring of literature on various themes pertaining to medieval Indian history. These studies have largely focused on various facets of economic, social and administrative history. In some of these studies, social histories have been studied in the context of caste structure and peasant movements. It is only recently that scholars have begun to explore social history afresh by focusing on themes like family, household, gender, relationships, hierarchies, love, intimacies, jealousies, etc. With the expansion of the historian's territory, the women populating the imperial harems have also begun to get the attention of scholars. In this regard, K. S. Lal made a bold attempt to look into the domestic history of the Mughals. His main finding was that the Mughal harem was an isolated place, exclusively meant for pleasure seeking activities of the Emperor. He provides us with both an acute and a bold appraisal of the happenings inside the harem. Notwithstanding his painstaking efforts, his views were admittedly empiricist. However, Ruby Lal in her seminal work provides a more nuanced understanding of the Mughal harem. She points out that the inmates of the Mughal palace were not mere pleasure objects, but wielded considerable political power. Though she has researched on the harems of early three Mughal Emperors, namely, Babar, Humayun and Akbar, she successfully identifies the changes in the life of harem inmates both during the harem's itinerant phase and when it got sedentarized. Harbans Mukhia in his seminal work on the Mughals of India has found Mughal women possessing considerable agency. Some of these women constantly influenced the court proceedings. Mukhia provides a graphic discussion on the legitimate sources and strategies of the Mughals' authority. Daud All covering the pre-Sultanate courts of Indian states, conducted an interesting study of courtly culture of early medieval India. The main concern of this work is to understand the court culture with specific emphasis on 'the beauty, refinement and love' as depicted in courtly sources. According to him, the Indian courts were societies of coherent social formation and their 'relationships were governed by particular code of behavior and modes of thought'. Apart from these outstanding attempts, there is no major study of courtly culture and the making of the courtly societies. Surprisingly, this lack of interest amongst scholars on the court culture is not due to any dearth of source material.

In recent years, scholars have shown some academic concern on the theme of courtly culture of various regimes. It is pertinent to mention here that state formation and evolution of court culture are two closely associated processes. Somehow, there has been a relative neglect of the courts of the post-Mughal and pre-colonial states. It is needless to say that the changing structure of the eighteenth century deserves in-depth exploration. Much of the eighteenth century has been studied in terms of its economy and society; the rich cultural mosaic has remained unattended. Many of the states who broke away from the Mughals continued to look towards the Mughal monarch for seeking legitimacy. But later during the eighteenth century, few states developed their own structures of legitimacy. In this regard the Kachhwaha state ofJaipur is a notable example. The ruling elite deployed various justifications to provide a moral basis to their power. Apart from legitimacy, the administrative capabilities and resource generation are equally crucial factors contributing to order and stability in society. Thus, it can be said that the Kachhwaha state was able to mobilize the social energy of large number of individuals, groups and institutions for providing a broad base to their state. These religious and political chiefs were treated with the prescribed behaviour in the court protocol of Jaipur state. It is clear that a constant 'civilizing' process was going on in order to regulate the behaviour of the court society. The courtly society that was interacting outside the court was also behaving under the guide norms. Thus, it can be said that the evolving new court society was trying to present a well-mannered society loaded with etiquettes before the subject population such that the subject population could hold them in reverence and adoration.

This study takes into consideration the works of German sociologist Norbert Elias who argued that culture requires sacrifices from individuals in the sphere of aggression. Elias focused on the history of table manners to bring to light the gradual developments at the courts of Western Europe of control over emotions. He linked this process to 'social pressures towards self-control' between the fifteenth and the eighteenth century. On the basis of rich documentation belonging to the Kachhwaha state of Jaipur, we may question Norbert Elias's assumption that 'civilization' (the art of everyday living) was a fundamentally Western phenomenon.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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