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The Zenana - 8 Notes to Kishen Kower

Letitia Elizabeth Landon 1802 (Chelsea) – 1838 (Cape Coast)



* KISHEN KOWER.--The history of Kishen Kower is of a later period than, properly speaking, belongs to my story. I trust the anachronism will be its own excuse. Without entering into the many intrigues to which she was sacrificed, it is only needful to observe, that her hand was claimed by the kings of Jeypour and Joudpour. A destructive war was the consequence, for marriage with the one must incur the enmity of the other. A weak father, and an ambitious minister, led to the immolation of the beautiful victim; an unmarried daughter being held to be the greatest possible disgrace.

JUMMA MUSJID, MANDOO. — Mandoo is the deserted capital of the Mohammedan sovereigns of Malwa, who after wards gave way to the dynasty of the Rajpoots : it is a proof of its former magnificence, that seven hundred elephants, in velvet housings, belonged to one of its monarchs. “The tiger now hath chief dominion there.” The Building represented in the Plate, is said to be the finest and largest specimen of the Afghan Mosque in India.

** Durbar. The court, or divan, to use a term familiar to most English readers.

THE PASS OF MAKUNDRA. — A rocky entrance to Malwa, well suited to be the scene of any predatory excursion.

PERAWA.— A small town in Malwa; doubtless, even within the last few years, witness to scenes like those sketched in the text. Like most mountain countries, the whole district was inhabited by a warlike and turbulent race ; a curious anecdote of the inflammable nature of the people, is told in the History of Central India. " The war with the Pindarries was over, and the country was in a state of tolerable tranquillity, when a sudden agitation was produced among the peaceable inhabitants, by a number of cocoa-nuts being passed from village to village, with a mysterious direction to speed them in specific directions. The signal flew with unheard-of celerity. The potail of every village, wherever one of these cocoa-nuts came, carried it himself with breathless haste to another, to avert a curse, which was denounced upon all who impeded or stopped them for a moment. Every inquiry was instituted ; the route of the signal was traced for several hundred miles, but no certain information was obtained ; and a circumstance, which produced for upwards of a month a very serious sensation overall Central India, remains to this moment a complete mystery." — Elliot. It is really quite delightful to think that there should be such a thing as a mystery left in the world.

* THE BAYAS. — Small crested sparrows, with bright yellow breasts.

** THE KOKLE. — Miss Roberts, to whose " Oriental Scenes" I am indebted for so much information, gracefully and fancifully says, "When listening.to the song of the kokle, its melancholy cadences, and abrupt termination, always impressed my mind with the idea, that the broken strains were snatches of some mournful story, too full of wo to be told at once."  

* The MUSNUD--A sort of matrass assigned as the place of honour, usually covered with gold cloth, velvet, or embroidery, and placed on the floor.

** Chand Baee was the aunt of Kishen Kower, and on her devolved the task of preparing the unfortunate Princess.
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on May 17, 2016

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Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Letitia Elizabeth Landon was an English poet. Born 14th August 1802 at 25 Hans Place, Chelsea, she lived through the most productive period of her life nearby, at No.22. A precocious child with a natural gift for poetry, she was driven by the financial needs of her family to become a professional writer and thus a target for malicious gossip (although her three children by William Jerdan were successfully hidden from the public). In 1838, she married George Maclean, governor of Cape Coast Castle on the Gold Coast, whence she travelled, only to die a few months later (15th October) of a fatal heart condition. Behind her post-Romantic style of sentimentality lie preoccupations with art, decay and loss that give her poetry its characteristic intensity and in this vein she attempted to reinterpret some of the great male texts from a woman’s perspective. Her originality rapidly led to her being one of the most read authors of her day and her influence, commencing with Tennyson in England and Poe in America, was long-lasting. However, Victorian attitudes led to her poetry being misrepresented and she became excluded from the canon of English literature, where she belongs. more…

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