Sunday, November 15, 2009

Once upon a time in Lucknow

Lucknow was perhaps the most photographed city in India during 1800's and after seeing below images it would be easy to understand why. Lucknow symbolized the extreme decadence that was prevalent amongst the royalty. It was a life of unadulterated leisure and indulgence which sparked a cultural revolution of sorts. Beauty in all its forms was patronized by the princely nawabs. Courtly manners came to be known as "nawabi tehzeeb".

 View of City of Lucknow - Sometime in 1800's (Unknown) via

View of Mohammad Ali Shah's Palace and Garden (Undated - Bettman) via

Roomi Darwaza (1870 - Samuel Bourne) via

Chattar Manzil (1870 - Unknown) via

Chattar Manzil and the Royal boat of Oudh (Felice Beato) via
Did you see that lovely fish shaped boat of a Raja - Could anything be more romantic that to travel in that boat on a calm Gomti river by night?

And now for some images of Rajas, Nawabs and Courtesans of Lucknow. The elaborate costumes and the jewelery are fabulous.......
Raja Lal Madho Singh - Talukdar of Amethi (1880 - Abbas Ali) via
Love his shoes - they seem almost contemporary !

Mirza Jafar Ali Khan - Tallukdar of Bihta (1880 - Mushkoor ud daula) via

.......and finally for some images of pretty courtesans. These ladies were extremely accomplished and educated. They learned and practiced classical singing and dancing, poetry, literature etc. Unfortunately some of the beautiful ladies below are un-identified.The pictures are taken sometime around 1865 by Mushkoor ud daula.


Check out the beautiful inlay work table and the mirror .... and ofcourse the jewellery.

Addha Biggan 1905 via

Mahemuneer around 1905 via

Mooshtari Jan around 1905 via

Mulka Jan around 1905 via

All the above 3 ladies have a very similar design on their lehnga/sharara. Perhaps this was the latest in fashion then.

Noor Jahan around 1905 via

Hope you liked this post. If you'd like to have some more information, please click here. It is a well researched essay on a famous and yet almost mythical Lucknow courtesan Umrao Jaan.


Rajee Sood said...

Hi Girls,
Loved to hear from you on my blog ... and I have to say I absolutely loved all the pictures you have on this post ... I am crazy history buff ... really enjoyed going through your blog and its a great effort you both are putting into the studio.I am soooo ... inspired ... :)

Allem Studio said...

Thanks Rajee !

setu said...

What an amazingly crisp insight!! I loved going thru this!

Salman's BlogSite said...

Vow... the blog weaves a nice context with images that bring to light generations of Lucknow's patronage to culture and style.

yasser said...

Amazing pictures, thanks for posting them. To address your curiosity about the 4 women with similar style skirts. They are actually wearing Farshi Pajamas, a recent take on which is the Farshi Gharara. They're wearing a two legged pajama with a quilted border attached to the bottom. The etiquite of sitting was to gather and fold the pajama over the lap, otherwise it was typically twice the length of the person's legs (thus the name Farshi- of the floor'). Traditionally a farshi pajama is made from 13 yards of fabric.

Allem Studio said...

Thanks for this info Yasser.