The Memorial Known as the Greatest Flower Meadow


Taz̲kirah-i gulzār-i Aʿẓam (The memorial known as the greatest flower meadow) is a biographical compendium of poets and their poetic output. It belongs to the taz̲kirah (memorial) genre of Persian and Indo-Persian literature. The author, Muḥammad Ghauth Khān, was born on the 29th of Dhū al-Ḥijjah 1239 AH (August 25, 1824) in Chennai, India, and was the last nawab of the Carnatic. In the introduction to Taz̲kirah, Muḥammad Ghauth Khān describes how, after writing an earlier biographical work, ubḥ-i Vaan (Dawn of the homeland, completed in 1257 AH [1841–42]), he was eager to write a more comprehensive book, with more judiciously chosen poems for each poet. The resulting work was Taz̲kirah-i gulzār-i Aʿẓam, in which the title refers both to the genre and its author (Aʿẓam, meaning “greatest,” was the takhalluṣ or pen name of the author). The gulzār (meadow) in the title refers to the collection of poets included in the work. The title is also a chronogram that references the date it was published. Taz̲kirah-i gulzār-i Aʿẓam consists of the biographical entries for 141 poets arranged alphabetically by the takhalluṣ of each poet. (The author’s earlier work, ubḥ-i Vaan, has 90 entries.) The entries here include biographical information as well as samples of each poet’s work. The poets are generally from the Indian subcontinent, though on occasion they are listed as having moved to India from Persia, as, for example, in the entry for Vālih, or Muḥammad Musavī, which lists Khurāsān as his home. The work is in Persian, the literary language of India during the Mughal and ensuing eras. This edition was printed in 1272 AH (1855–56) at the Sarkāṛī printing press (likely in Rampur, India). Muḥammad’s father, Nawab Aʿẓam Jāh, died shortly after his son’s birth, but Muḥammad did not assume power until he was installed as nawab by British colonial administrators in 1842. Prior to this, his uncle, Prince ‘Aẓīm Jāh Bahādur, acted as regent. (‘Aẓīm Jāh Bahādur is listed in the Taz̲kirah-i gulzār-i Aʿẓam under the takhalluṣ Naẓīr and his entry describes a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina as well as him founding a school for Muslim students.) Muḥammad Ghauth Khān died childless in October 1855. Rather than have power revert to ‘Aẓīm Jāh Bahādur, the British East India Company chose to annex the Carnatic kingdom, thus ending the rule of the nawabs of the Carnatic.

Last updated: September 30, 2016