The Garden of the Eight Paradises: Babur and the Culture of Empire in Central Asia, Afghanistan and India (1483-1530)

The Garden of the Eight Paradises: Babur and the Culture of Empire in Central Asia, Afghanistan and India (1483-1530)

The Garden of the Eight Paradises: Babur and the Culture of Empire in Central Asia, Afghanistan and India (1483-1530)

The Garden of the Eight Paradises: Babur and the Culture of Empire in Central Asia, Afghanistan and India (1483-1530)

Synopsis

This the first critical biography of Zah r al-D n Muhammad B bur, the founder of one of the great premodern Islamic empires, the Timurid-Mughul empire of India. It contains an original evaluation of his life and writings as well as fresh insights into both the nature of empire building and the character of the Timurid-Mughul state. Based upon recently published critical editions of B burs autobiography and poetry, the book examines B burs life from the time he inherited his fathers authority in the Ferghanah valley, east of Samarqand, in 1494, until his death in Agra, India in 1530. The book is written in an alternating series of thematic and narrative chapters. The thematic or analytical chapters examine his major writings, discuss his cultural personality and his reaction to Indian culture, while the narrative chapters relate the story of his life while critically commenting on his autobiographical intent. The book contributes to the history of the Timurid period, the study of early modern Islamic empires and the nature of autobiographical literature in Islamic and Asian societies. It is illustrated with fifteen colour plates and four maps.

Excerpt

Writing a biography of Zahīr al-Dīn Muhammad Bābur has meant relying on generations of scholars, the help of contemporaries and the kindness and tolerance of friends. This biography would not have been possible first of all, were it not for the publication of scholarly editions and translations of Bābur's remarkable autobiography. Three works in particular have been especially important. They are: the critical edition compiled by Professor E. J. Mano of Kyoto University, the first English translation of Bābur's original Turkī Annette Susannah Beveridge, the self-taught, lateVictorian scholar, and the edited Turkish translation of Reş Rahmeti Arat. Beyond these textual foundations I am especially indebted to the scholarship of a group of late Soviet-era scholars, in particular A. Azimdzhanova, I. V. Stebleva, O. D. Chekhovich and Elena A. Davidovich. I first read Bābur's poetry in Azimdzhanova's and Stebleva's Russian translations, and I have greatly benefited from the numismatic and social-economic studies of Davidovich and Chekhovich. Regarding the Tīmūrids in particular, I have been educated by the scholarship and conversations with Beatrice F. Manz, Jo-Ann Gross, Jūrgen Paul and Maria E. Subtelny. I have also made repeated use of Wheeler M. Thackston's valuable translations of Bābur's text and that of Bābur's Mongol cousin, Haydar Mīrzā.

Over the course of many years I have been especially fortunate to benefit from the expertise of several scholars, especially Thomas T. Allsen, Cornell H. Fleischer and Peter B. Golden, who all have patiently contributed to the knowledge of someone trained primarily in Indo-Islamic studies. I have had innumerable conversations about Central Asia with Tom Allsen, who also has generously supplied me with dozens of references and/or articles and books that reflect his own encylopedic knowledge of Mongol and post-Mongol Central Asia. I first began studying Turkish with Cornell Fleischer, who also, early in my work, presented me with a splendid copy of Arat's Turkish translation of Bābur's autobiography. In many conversations and in his writings Peter Golden has shared his own exceptional knowledge of Turks and Turkish history. Professor . . .

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