25 February, 2021

Hunting By Her Light

Nur Jahan seduced, intrigued and ruled like few women did. This is a fine tribute, with breaks.

Hunting By Her Light

Nur Jahan—we know her as the empress who had Jeh­angir besotted, the daughter of a Persian noble who had been married before, but who somehow managed to capture the Mughal’s fickle heart from among the thousand women who vied for his royal attention in his harem. Nur Jahan was undoubtedly beautiful—there are ample rec­ords of that along with snide comments on how she encouraged Jehangir’s substance abuse, from foreign travellers who never quite understood Mughal purdah systems and, in Nur Jehan’s case, the lack of them.

Lal proceeds to demonstrate how Nur Jahan dominated most women of her time by opening her narrative with a tiger hunt. Villagers being ravaged by a man-eating tiger had begged the emperor to rescue them. Jehangir, who had sworn off hunting, passed the task to his consort who, from the back of a panicked elephant, shot the tiger neatly between the eyes. This tiger queen was more than just a sed­uctive beauty, says Lal.

Nur Jahan, we hear, was an able ruler who fought for her underprivileged subjects. She was...

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