Calcutta: the Hindustani Press, printed by Th. Hubbard, 1808. Item #402
310, , 21 pp. (numbered in Eastern Arabic system). 31x21,5 cm. With two title pages – in Urdu and English. Text in Urdu printed in Nastalīq script. Contemporary Indian brown treed full leather with gilt lettered title in English ‘Araish I Muhfil’ on the spine, new endpapers. Both title pages and several leaves of text with wormholes neatly repaired with old paper, paper slightly age toned, but overall a very good copy in very original condition.
First edition. Rare Indian imprint with only seven paper copies found in Worldcat. Free translation (or, in places, adaptation) of selections from ‘Khulāsāt al-tavārīkh’’ – a fundamental 17th century description of Hindustan and the Mughal Empire. The original text was written in Persian by Munshī Sujān Rāy and completed in 1695, during the rule of Great Mughal Aurangzeb (1618-1707). It contains information on the Hindustani people, flora and fauna, main provinces, towns, rivers, localities and sites of the Mughal Empire, including a detailed description of the author’s native Punjab region and Lahore. Historical chapters cover the history of the Hindu and Muslim kings of India. The translator, Mir Sher Ali Afsos was a famous Urdu poet and writer, and a teacher of Scottish linguist and Indologist John Gilchrist (1759-1848). Afsos worked as a Munshi, or the Secretary in Fort William College, where civil servants of the East India Company studied Hindustani. His major works, including ‘‘Bagh-e-Urdu’’ - a translation of Saadi’s ‘‘Gulistan’’, and ‘‘Ara’ish-I muhfil’’, were aimed to foster and promote the studies of Urdu and other Indian languages.