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Afterimage of EmpirePhotography in Nineteenth-Century India$

Zahid R. Chaudhary

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816677481

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816677481.001.0001

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(p.201) Appendix: Translations

(p.201) Appendix: Translations

Afterimage of Empire
University of Minnesota Press

Translation of Proclamation Attributed to Nana Sahib (picked up by English troops in July 1857) (Figure 1.10)

Translation modified from Francis Cornwallis Maude and John Walter Sherer, Memories of the Mutiny, volume 2 (1894)

A traveller, who has just arrived in the city of Cawnpore from Calcutta, has informed that before serving out the cartridges for the purpose of taking away the religion of the people of India, the Sahibs met in council, and that this was the council’s final decision. Since this is a matter of religion, [it was decided that] seven or eight thousand European soldiers and Englishmen, and fifty thousand Indians will be killed, and then the whole of India will be Christianized. A letter to this effect was sent to Queen Victoria, and her approval of the plan was received. A second council was held and some English merchants were also members of this Council.

This was determined: that assistance should be sought for English [gora, literally “white”] troops, in proportion to the strength of Indian troops; so that when the rebellion gained head the British would not get the worst of it. When that letter was read in England, thirty-five thousand English [gora] troops were quickly embarked in ships, and dispatched to India. The news of their departure reached Calcutta, and then the order was given out in Calcutta to distribute the cartridges, for the whole object was to Christianize the Indian army; once the army was Christianized, there would be no delay in Christianizing all the people of India, and the cartridges were made up with the fat [charbi] of pigs and cows. This information was received from the Bengalis who were employed in manufacturing the cartridges, and of those who blew the whistle on this plan, one was sentenced to death, and the remainder to imprisonment. So these people [the English] were making such plans here [in India]; while there [in London] the Ambassador of the Sultan of Turkey sent information from London to his Sultan, that 35,000 soldiers were about to be sent from England to India to Christianize it.

(p.202) The Sultan of Turkey issued a Firman [royal request] to the Pasha of Egypt, of which the following was the report: “You are at peace with Queen Victoria. This is not a time for peace; because I have been informed by my Ambassador that 35,000 English troops have been dispatched to India to Christianize its army and its people. Under these circumstances if it is still possible to prevent them, and I am negligent, how shall I show my face before God? The same thing will happen some day to me; for, if the English Christianize India, they will also try to do the same to my country.”

When the Pasha of Egypt received the Firman from the Sultan of Turkey, and before the arrival of English troops, he assembled and formed his own army near Alexandria—for that is the route to India. Immediately as the English troops arrived, the Pasha of Egypt opened fire on them with his cannons from all sides, and destroyed the ships and sank them, so that not a single European [gora] escaped. The English in Calcutta, after issuing the order for biting the cartridges, and in light of the intensifying rebellion, were in expectation of the troops from London, but God Almighty, in His mighty power, had already disposed of them. When the news of the troops’ destruction arrived, the Governor General [of India] was extremely grieved, and beat his head. At night he was making plans for death and plunder; in the morning he had neither a body nor a head for a crown. By one turn of the lotus-like heavens, neither Nadir was its place, nor was there a Nadir.

Printed by the order of His Excellency the Peishwah, 13th Zilkadah, in the year 1273, Hijra.

Transliteration and Translation of Farsi Inscriptions in Plates 11 and 12

Courtesy of Michael Barry

Plate 11

Lambar 32: Shabîh-i mubârak-i Hazrat-i Abu-l-Mansûr Nâsiruddîn, Sikandar Jâh, Bâdshâh-i ‘Âdil, Qaysar-i Zamân, Sultân-i ‘Âlam, Muhammad Wâjid ‘Alî Akhtar Shâh-i Oudh, Ghâzî, khallada Allâhu mulkahu wa saltanatahu, kih ba‘d-i infirâgh az hammâm, bâ mû-hâ-yi gushâda bâlâ-yi dûsh-ô sînah-i mubârak andâkhta, Tâj-i akhtar-pasand bar sar-i mubârak-ô mâlâ-yi [?] marwârîd dar gulû-ô dastband-i marwârîd dar dast-i mubârak zayb farmûda, wa libâs-i Hindî dar bar-ô rû-mâl-i pur-zar dar kamar basta, wa bâlâ-yi Kursî-i murassa‘ dast-i râst-râ ba-pahlû-yi râst chaspânîda, zûr-i badan andâkhta-ô angushtân-i dast-i mubârak-râ bar chûb-i râst-i Kursî nihâda, ba-Irâda-yi mawzûn farmûdan-i shi‘r tashrîf mîdârand. Sinn-i mu‘allâ bist-o noh, sâl-i 1271-i Hijrî, mutâbiq-i sinna-yi 9-i julûs-i maymanat-i ma’nûs. ‘Amal-i Bayt-us-Saltanat-i Lakhnaw.

(p.203) Number 32: The blessed depiction of His Reverence Abu-l-Mansûr Nasiruddîn, the Alexander in Majesty, the Just Emperor, the Caesar of the Age, the Sultan of the World, Muhammad Wâjîd ‘Alî Akhtar, King of Oudh, the Victorious for the Faith, may God render forever his rule and sultanate, who after the cleansing of the bath, with hair unloosened over his blessed shoulders and breast, ordered his blessed head to be adorned with the crown pleasing unto the stars, along with a collar [mala] of pearls about his neck, and a bracelet of pearls around his blessed hand, and Indian clothing upon his person [literally: chest or breast], and a gold-worked sash bound around his waist; upon the gem-studded throne he a xed his right hand, lodged thereupon his strong body, and placed the fingers of his blessed hand upon the right armrest of the throne. With weighty [or measured] will, he commands that the nobility of poetry be brought forth. The august age is twenty-nine, the year 1271 of the Hijra, corresponding to the 9th year of the auspicious and [divinely] beloved enthronement. Done in the Royal Palace, Lucknow.

Plate 12

Shabîh-i Nawwâb-i Râj Bêgum Sâhiba kih yakê az mamnû‘ât-i Hazrat-i Sultân-i ‘Âlam khallada Allâhu mulkahu wa saltanatahu and. Lêkin az jalsa-yi bêrûnî bâ pûshâk-i Hindî-i pur-zar-ô zêwar-hâ-yi murassâ‘ dar dast-ô gûsh ârâsta, mû-bâf-i zarrîn-kâr chûb bar sar basta, ba-tasawwur mulâqât-i Hazrat-i Sultân-i ‘Âlam khallada Allâhu mulkahu wa saltanatahu dar ‘âlam-i jûsh-ô walwala, bar Kursî-i nuqra nishasta. Ba-sinn-i bîst-ô sih, sâla-yi 1271-i Hijrî, mutâbiq-i sinna-yi 9-i julûs-i maymanat-i ma’nûs. ‘Amal-i Bayt-us-Saltanat-i Lakhnaw.

Depiction of the Deputized one [vicereine = nawwâb], Râj Bêgum Sahiba, who is one of the Forbidden Ladies [mamnû‘at]* of His Reverence the Sultan of the World, may God render forever his rule and sultanate. But she sits outside [the women’s quarters] wearing a gold-encrusted Indian dress and her hands and ears adorned with studded gems, a wooden gold-work diadem comb affixed upon her head, having come forth into this world of boil-and-turmoil [jûsh-ôwalwala] for the purpose of depiction [tasawwur] to meet His Reverence the Sultan of the World, may God render forever his rule and sultanate. She sits upon a silver throne at the age of twenty-three, the year 1271 of the Hijra, corresponding to the 9th year of the auspicious and [divinely] beloved enthronement. Done in the Royal Palace, Lucknow. (p.204)


*This Farsi word is akin to Pardanashin, or “maintaining the veil,” in Urdu.