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Nautch Girls of the Raj

Pran Nevile (Author)
The much-celebrated nautch girl, extravagantly adored for both her beauty and her virtuosity, belonged to a unique class of courtesans who played a significant role in the social and cultural life of India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The nautch girl, it may be said, was no ordinary woman of pleasure—she had refined manners, a ready wit and poetry in her blood. She embodied a splendid synthesis of different cultures and dance forms—the classical and the popular—and catered to the sophisticated tastes of the elite who had the time, resources and inclination to enjoy her accomplishments.

Over the centuries female dancers have appeared in various incarnations, frequently as temple dancers dedicated to the gods, for dance is believed to have divine approval. However, historians, sociologists, novelists and chroniclers have not always done justice to the nautch girl, depicting her as either a vamp or as a showgirl bought by the wealthy for festive occasions. This book highlights the emergence of the quintessential nautch girl in the Mughal era when she reached the zenith of her talent and charisma. Her mystique continued to reign supreme during the Raj and her popularity and status among the English sahibs and the Indian aristocracy flourished during this period.

Illustrated with reproductions and drawings obtained from collections all over the world this book offers a vivid glimpse of the seductive allure and dazzling grace of nautch in its days of glory.
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About the author

Pran Nevile

Pran Nevile was born in Lahore and took his postgraduate degree from there. After a distinguished career in the Indian Foreign Service and the United Nations, he turned a freelance writer and has specialized in the study of social and cultural history of India. Lahore: A Sentimental Journey is his first full-length literary work.
He has written extensively on Indian art and culture and also acted as a consultant for two BBC films on the Raj. He is the author of Love Stories from the Raj, Nautch Girls of India, Beyond the Veil, Rare Glimpses of the Raj, Stories from the Raj: Sahibs, Memsahibs and Others, and K.L. Saigal: Immortal Singer.

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Bibliographic information

Title Nautch Girls of the Raj
Author Pran Nevile
Format Softcover
Date published: 31.12.2009
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 9780143064787
length xii+136p., 8p. of Plates; Illustrations; 20cm.