Eclipsed by the Moon: Mahlaqa Bai and Kushhal Khan Anup in Nizami Hyderabad
6 May 2022
Mahlaqa Bai ‘Chanda,’ ‘The Moon,’ sang and danced her way into the historical firmament when in 1799 she presented a book of her songs to the Resident of Hyderabad, John Malcolm, in the middle of a nautch party. Renowned as the first Indian courtesan to write a divan of Urdu poetry, Mahlaqa Bai was equally famous for her affairs with powerful men at the Nizam of Hyderabad’s court.
Obscured by her luminescence today, however, is the man behind The Moon, her master-teacher Khushhal Khan ‘Anup,’ ‘The Incomparable.’ As celebrated and as central to Hyderabad’s courtly culture as his illustrious pupil was at the time, Khushhal Khan left behind an enormous corpus of songs, several musical treatises, and an illustrated ragamala that tell us a great deal about musical life and lives in Nizami Hyderabad c.1780–1830.
Join music-historian Katherine Schofield as she discusses Khushhal Khan’s work, and more about what we can learn of the lives of these two remarkable characters and the court of which they were a part.
View the video below.
Katherine Butler Schofield
Katherine Butler Schofield is a historian of music and listening in early modern North India and the Deccan, based at King’s College London. In telling stories about lives in music, she writes on sovereignty and selfhood, affection and desire, sympathy and loss, and power, worldly and strange. Her latest book, Music and Musicians in Late Mughal India: Histories of the Ephemeral, 1748–1858, is with Cambridge University Press (2022). Her previous edited volumes are Tellings and Texts with Francesca Orsini (Open Book, 2015) and Monsoon Feelings with Margrit Pernau and Imke Rajamani (Niyogi, 2018).