Madhu Trivedis knowledge of cultural and artistic production in Nawabi Awadh is very evident throughout the text. An introductory chapter sets out the historical background to Awadh in the Nawabi era (17221856), followed by detailed information on the place of Shii Islam, literary production, music, painting, architecture and industrial arts such as chikankari-the style of embroidery still associated with Lucknow, the capital of the Nawabs. Trivedi uses a variety of primary sources originally in English, Urdu as well as in Persian. Nor does she hesitate to use secondary sources to fill in her narrative. There is no conclusion, perhaps the principal weakness of the book. The empirical data in The Making of Awadh Culture does not form part of a sustained argument and hence does not engage with existing historiography or recent historiographical debates.
The main part of the book focuses on literary cultures in Nawabi Awadh, with the Nawabs themselves often playing a leading role in literary productions. Pride of place goes to poetry, of course, though Trivedi repeats the old idea that Lucknow poetry was more concerned with form than content. In addition to the ghazal, Trivedi explores, in great detail, the traditions and practitioners of the marsiya songs of lament in the Shia tradition, which, she argues, developed a distinct language, idiom, content, and literary form in Lucknow (p.25). Equally, Trivedi pays attention to the masnavi as well as more popular poetic traditions such as rekhti (verse in womens spoken dialect, though the poets she mentions appear to be mostly men!), hajw (satire), hazal (humorous verse), and wasokht (love poetry). In her discussion of the evolution of prose narrative in Nawabi Lucknow, Trivedi surprisingly overlooks Hasan Shahs Nashtar written in 1790. She is very right, though, in drawing readers attention to the publication of the weekly newspaper Tilism, as overlooked it is, in discussions of the history of journalism in north India.
The chapter on the musical arts notes Lucknows important contributions to the development of classical and popular music and dance in northern India. The chapter focuses on the emergence of new forms of classicism in music, which include the displacing of dhrupad by khayal (though Trivedi rightly points out that exponents of dhrupad flourished in Awadh too) and the emerging significance of other lighter classical forms such as tappa, thumri, dadra, and, of course, the ghazal. In dance, pride of place in the chapter obviously goes to descriptions of the evolution of kathak in the courts of the Nawabs. But, in doing so, Trivedi does not neglect other, less wellknown styles, such as rahas-an operatic style blending kathak with the older ras traditions. She also mentions other folk dance traditions such as bhand-nach and kaharva. In addition to a brief discussion of musical intruments, she also delves into the contributions of the Awadh courts to musicology, especially Muhammad Razas reclassification of major and minor ragas.
There are richly illustrated discussions of painting and architecture in Nawabi Awadh with a discussion of European influence on Awadhi culture. Nawabi Awadh was virtually coterminous with the growing influence of Europeans across the Indian subcontinent. It is also well known that many of the Nawabs were personally fascinated with the West. Yet, earlier chapters in Trivedis book appear to suggest that prose, poetry, drama and music in Nawabi Awadh emerged in complete isolation from western influences. Trivedi suggests that the evolution of painting in Nawabi Awadh can be divided into two overlapping phases. The first phase she sees as retaining strong continuities from the MughalRajput court art styles, while the second phase (from 1764 onwards) shows the increasing influence of French and British artists. The illustrations, which must have added significantly to the cost of this book, while helping the reader understand these differences, could have been much sharper. Also, it is never explained why four illustrations are in colour and the others in black and white, nor why four other black and white illustrations depicting paintings form part of the chapter on architecture as being characterized both by Mughal influences as well as the assimilation of European architectural influences. The latter was incorporated in a very eclectic fashion, best exemplified perhaps by Claude Martins Constantia. Trivedi describes many of the prominent buildings of Lucknow in turn, almost in the vein of early guidebooks of the city.
The last chapter of Trivedis book examines the production of artisans of Nawabi Awadh who produced artefacts on an industrial scale. Artisans were not only patronized by the Nawabs, but, as Trivedi points out, the Nawabs were very aware of the importance of state protection to the manufacturing activities of their artisans. The Nawabs took great care to negotiate terms with the English East India Company that would afford protection to the Awadh artisans from the cheaper imports that were flooding other markets in the subcontinent. Therefore, many artisans flocked into Awadh, as a result of which Lucknow was unrivalled in the production of countless articles in demand in all parts of the subcontinent (p.227). Trivedi provides an exhaustive description of the industrial arts of Nawabi Awadh, as she does of other aspects of Awadhi culture. A description of the production of high quality textiles such as jamdani and tanzeb muslins is followed by the dyeing and printing industries, to, of course, fine needlecraft. The latter included not only the stillfamous chikankari (cottonthread embroidery), but also other needlecraft with gold and silver thread. In addition to textiles, Trivedi also draws our attention to metalwork industries such as enamelling, damascening, wireworking, filigree work, and the production of fine jewellery, claywork and woodwork.
The book makes it very clear that it is meant for an audience wellversed in Hindustani and English, because Trivedi does not care to translate many of the terms she uses, for example dhun based music (p.109). That is perfectly fine. But other problems with the book remain. Her detailed descriptions are unlikely to sustain the interest of lay readers. For example, when examining poetry, Trivedi goes into minute details of verse forms. Yet, a more scholarly audience would want to know where all of this detail is leading, and to get some sense of a larger argument of the book. There is an oldfashioned charm to Trivedis detailed descriptions, which are welcome at a time when scholars are concerned more about scoring theoretical brownie points and less about empirical detail. But the empiricist approach is not free of its own problems. In Trivedis book, one serious problem is the lack of attention to the colonial period. As a result, she often jumps directly from Nawabi Awadh to the presentday, ignoring the significant impact of the changes that occurred in Awadh under British rule. Equally significant is that this approach loses out the possibility of making important contributions to existing scholarly debates. Trivedi, in her study of the literary culture points out that the custodians and patrons of high culture in Nawabi Awadh sought to Persianize Urdu, consciously stripping it of words derived from Braj, to fashion a new, courtly, literary, Urdu. This would make for a fascinating intervention in existing arguments that suggest that colonialism and nationalism alone were responsible for the widening rift between Hindi and Urdu in north India. Equally, Trivedis observations that Kayasthas and Khattris played an important role in the Persianization of Urdu in this time suggests that class rather than communal affinities were of greater significance in this linguistic rift. However, in preferring description over analysis Trivedi steers completely clear of an important, if controversial, subject to which she could have made important contributions through this book.
Despite some limitations, however, this is an important work on a significant subject. Its biggest strength is that is allows readers access to a great deal of information on Nawabi Awadh not easily available elsewhere.
Sanjay Joshi is at Northern Arizona University.