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Top 21 Jewellery Books That You Must Read

Top 21 Jewellery Books That You Must Read

If jewellery fascinates you, along with having a huge collection of it, reading jewellery books is a good way of discovering your love for it.

Add a little sparkle and shine to not just your bookshelf but also to your life with an amazing read on jewellery. Whether it is about the ancient jewels or a glimpse into the minds of famous jewellers, a glut of words has been written on this subject. 

From expert guides on gemstones of the kings to the history of diamonds through the years to the best of modern jewellery, you are likely to find a jewellery book for any and every kind of jewellery that you are passionate about.

If you love jewellery and you love reading then you are at the right place. Whether you plan on getting one for yourself or for someone you love, jewellery books make for a great gift. So, come along, as we tell you about some of the best books on jewellery of all time. 

Top 21 Jewellery Books That You Must Read

Jewel: A Celebration of Earth’s Treasures

Its beautiful black velvet front cover opens you up to a world of the most dazzling jewels, gemstones, precious and semi-precious gems and minerals. The book is full of stunning pictures of celebrated jewellery, gemstones and other precious objects. 

With this book, you get to immerse yourself in the incredible stories that surround these famous, notorious and most-celebrated gems. 

Full of spectacular photographs, interesting real-life stories and intriguing historic jewels, ‘Jewel: A Celebration of Earth’s Treasures’ by Dorling Kindersley is an absolute must-read.

The Cartier: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewellery Empire

Whether or not someone is a jewellery lover, Cartier, is perhaps a name that everyone has heard of. One of the most recognized jewellery brands in the world, Cartier is a household name.

In this book by Francesca Cartier Brickell, the author tells the untold story behind of the family behind the gigantic brand. She talks and shares stories of her ancestors- the three brothers Jaques, Louis and Pierre who transformed their grandfather’s Parisian jewellery store into the luxury international brand that Cartier is today.

Jewels & Jewellery

One of the top jewellery books of all time, Jewels & Jewellery is written by Clare Phillips- author, historian and V&A Museum curator. The book was first published in 2000 and then it has gone through several reprints.

The book examines splendid pieces of jewellery right from the early medieval period to the Renaissance period to the twenty-first century designs. Jewels & Jewellery also features exceptional photographs from the Victoria & Albert Museum’s unmatched collection. 

With an impeccable amount of research put into it, this book gives you an insight into the evolution of jewellery through the different eras.

Hidden Gems: Jewellery Stories from the Salesroom

A book by Sarah Hue-Williams and Raymond Sancroft-Baker, Hidden Gems is a collection of 40 stories. These intriguing stories are a beautiful blend of art, science, history, and psychology and trace the lives of jewels and those connected to them.

This compilation of stories is a very interesting read, and the combined knowledge and experience of the authors has created this spellbinding read.

Chaumet Tiaras: Divine Jewels

The next on our list of must-read jewellery books is Chaumet Tiaras by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni. This is an exclusive book that features the most stunning tiaras that were created by Chaumet. 

The Parisian House of Chaumet, since 1780, has been one of the most sought-after jewellers in Europe after Chaumet was named the official jeweller to Empress Josephine. 

Chaumet has produced over 2,000 tiaras, and this book pays tribute to some of the most fabulous of them.

Lydia Courteille: Extraordinary Jewellery of Imagination and Dreams

With her avant-grade and unusual jewellery designs, Lydia Courteille has been making a name for herself for over thirty years. One of the most amazing jewellery books to read, this book is part biography and part retrospective. 

Right from tracing her roots from her birth to her teenage years and to her early career, Lydia Courteille pays homage to her home city. The latter part of this amazing jewellery book takes you on a journey through this designer’s wonderful designs. 

Celebrating Jewellery: Exceptional Jewels of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Penned by David Bennet and Daniela Masceti, Celebrating Jewellery is one of the must-reads when it comes to jewellery books. The book is a compilation of the most celebrated jewels of the last 200 years of western history.

Right from the tiaras of the Victorian era to the designs of the late 20th century, the book features some of the most iconic jewellery houses such as Cartier and Bulgari. 

If you are a jewellery buff, you need to pick this book up.

Fine Jewellery Couture: Contemporary Heirlooms

This book by Olivier Dupon features over 35 master jewellery designers from all across the world. The book also features sketches alongside the photographs of the jewels. 

The author and design expert Olivier Dupon has a keen eye and a creative flair and this book of his is a testimony of that. In his book, each designer is introduced briefly and then hundreds of images of his art follow. Whether you are a jewellery professional or an aficionado, you must read this book.

Stoned: Jewellery, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World

When we talk about jewellery books, this is yet another amazing one. Authored by Aja Raden, it is the former jeweller’s first-ever book. 

A very entertaining read, Stoned takes you on a journey through the history of human desire for what is rare and precious. The author takes into account 8 different jewels that shaped the course of history. 

Stoned is a very, very interesting read that is so brilliantly written that it will have you hooked right from the first page. 

Jeweler- Masters, Mavericks, and Visionaries of Modern Design

The next on our list of the top jewellery books is Jeweler, a book by Stellene Volandes. In the book, the author has focussed on contemporary jewellers whose works she considers to be the most influential in terms of both artistry and expertise. 

Jeweler is a colourful mix of the old and the experimental. Stellene Volandes has picked out the most visually impactful jewels, along with a personal introduction of each jeweller.

Ruby: The King of Gems

Penned by jewellery specialist Joanna Hardy, Ruby: The King of Gems gives an insightful look into this precious red gemstone. She shares the tales of the 60 most renowned rubies, ruby jewels. She also gives practical advice on what you should look out for when you buy a gemstone for yourself.

The book is a very beautifully illustrated survey that will take you on a journey right from the mines in Burma to the courts and palaces in Europe. If you are fond of rubies or gemstones in particular then this is one of the must real jewellery books for you.

Tiaras: A History on Splendour

This lavishly illustrated book is penned down by Geoffery C. Munn and gives you a deep insight into the world of tiaras. Right from how the word ‘tiara’ originated to its transformation from the ancient days to its modern-day status, you can read everything related to tiaras in this book. 

The book also features an array of photographs of royal tiaras of the French and Russian Imperial provenances, creations of some of the most iconic designers including Cartier, Castellini, Tiffany and more.

Diamond Jewellery: 700 Years of Glory and Glamour

The book talks about the glorious history of this highly celebrated precious stone ‘diamond’ through the stories of the European rulers. This book by Diana Scarisbrick is one of the best jewellery books especially if you are a diamond enthusiast.

Right from the mid-fourteenth century to the present day, ‘Diamond Jewellery’ explores the powerful people who commissioned and wore extraordinary pieces of diamond jewellery. Exclusive paintings and photographs highlight the diamond jewellery worn by prominent figures such as Queen Elizabeth I of Great Britain and icons such as Elizabeth Taylor.

The Cartier Collection: Jewellery

Penned down by Francois Chaille, Michael Spink, Christophe Vachaudez, Thierry Coudert and Violette Petit collectively, this two-volume book showcases more than 3,000 pieces from the stunning Cartier collection. Right from the 1860s to present day, this book traces thousands of high jewellery pieces from the luxury brand.

Right from Queen Elizabeth to Sir Bhupinder Singh, The Cartier Collection showcases extraordinary pieces from these imminent personalities. If high jewellery is something that interests you then this one is a must-have.

Adorning Fashion

This book by Deanna Farneti Cera is the next on our list of the top jewellery books. The book is a definite and comprehensive guide to costume jewellery and covers all aspects of it.

It talks about the evolution of costume jewellery right from bourgeois France to its present-day state. It is a very lavishly illustrated books that is a must-have for all kinds of jewellery enthusiasts. The book includes a range of remarkable designers such as Dior, Versace, Balenciaga and many more.

The styles of each era right from the Victorian era to the twentieth century are individually highlighted in Adorning Fashion. 

Beyond Extravagance: 2nd Edition 

Beyond Extravagance by Dr Amin Jaffar is a book that you absolutely must not miss out on as the book talks about the diverse tradition of Indian jewellery spanning over 4 centuries.

This particular second volume highlights more than 400 pieces of fine jewellery and art objects right from the time of the Mughal Empire to the British Raj to the twenty-first century. Some of the key pieces include a ruby and pearl choker made for the Maharaja of Patiala by Cartier, the Shah Jahan dagger, the Taj Mahal Emerald and much more.

This luxurious book is a must-have especially for those who love high jewellery.

Spectacular: Gems and Jewellery from the Merriweather Post Collection

This book by Liana Paredes gives a glimpse into one of the most remarkable collections of jewellery. ‘Spectacular’ will immerse you into the history and design of jewellery and keep you hooked throughout. 

The book features exquisite pieces by Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels, contemporary commissions from Harry Winston and so much more. One of the must-read jewellery books, it talks about the changing jewellery styles and developments in America as well as Europe. 

Women Jeweler Designers

A book by Juliet de la Rochefoucauld, Women Jeweler Designers celebrates the works of female jewelry designers from all across the globe. The book features works of Coco Chanel, Paloma Picasso, and many other female designers.

The book majorly talks about the works of women jewelry designers of the twentieth century. Every prominent woman designer and her work that you may want to know about is included in this wonderful book.

To know about the stories of these inspirational women and their exceptional work, this book is a must-have.

The Pearl Necklace

The next on our list of must-read jewellery books is The Pearl Necklace by Vivienne Becker. An iconic classic, the book exclusively talks about the ‘pearl necklace’ and about those who made it a part of their wardrobes.

Right from the Renaissance queens to the Maharajas to the First Ladies, you will find stories of all kinds of pearl necklace owners in this book. 

Top 21 Jewellery Books That You Must Read 1

Secrets of the Gem Trade: The Connoisseur’s Guide to Precious Gemstones

This book by Richard W. Wise is a must-read if you are into gemstones. If how the best gemologists in the world evaluate precious gems is something you wish to know then you need to grab this book right away.

Rings

A book by Rachel Church, Rings is an engaging book on the evolution of ring designs right from the Middle Ages to today. This beautifully illustrated book talks about everything related to the most-worn accessory, ‘rings’. There are over 200 illustrations in the book right from period paintings and sketches to photographs.

Over to You

Here, we talked about the 21 must-read books on jewellery. Which one of these 21 jewellery books are you the most excited to read?

In case you wish to buy some silver jewelery, head over to our jewellery section where you can buy rings, earrings, pendants, bangles & bracelets and necklaces.

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Habba Khatoon: The Sage of Kashmir

Habba Khatoon: The Sage of Kashmir

A beautiful and intelligent damsel from the saffron town of Pampore, Habba Khatoon was a Kashmiri poetess born in the 16th century. Named as Zoon (meaning, the moon) by her parents and fondly called the ‘Nightingale of Kashmir’, she is one of the most popular mystic poets from the valley. Her verses have traveled across time and even today, she is the sound and song of many Kashmiri gatherings.

In this article we unfold more about Habba Khatun, her life and her poetry.

The Life of Habba Khatoon

Born in 1554 in a small village called Chandhur in Pampore as a peasant, Habba Khatun or Khatoon was named as Zoon by her parents. As per oral tradition, she was called Zoon owing to her immense beauty. 

There is also a theory that suggests that she was once baptised by a Sufi mystic on a moonlight night who gave her the name Zoon. And it was under the guidance of her Sufi mentor that she began to compose lyrics and sing. She had a beautiful voice and a natural talent for composing poetry.

Even though born in a peasant family, Zoon had learnt to read and write from the village moulvi. At a young age, Zoon’s father married her off to a peasant boy. But her marriage did not fare well and she was soon divorced. It is believed that she was mistreated by her mother-in-law and sister-in-law as they tried to change her behavior and make her live a more acceptable life. It was after her divorce that she started writing and singing songs in Kashmiri.

Later, after she had been divorced, she met and fell in love with Yusuf Shah Chak. And it was after her marriage to him that she changed her name to ‘Habba Khatoon’.

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Habba Khatoon and Yusuf Shah Chak

Yusuf Shah Chak, the King of Kashmir spotted Habba Khatun singing under the shade of a chinar tree in the fields one day. Mesmerized by her melancholic melodies and stunned by her beauty, he instantly fell in love with her. He later tied the knot with her and Habba, who enchanted him with her poetry, reigned as the queen for six years. 

Everything was well between them for a few years until the time that Kashmir was annexed to the Mughal Empire. Although they had a happy marriage, fate soon drove them apart.

A popular legend says that it was at the end of six years of the marriage of Yusuf Chak and Habba Khatoon that Emperor Akbar summoned Yusuf Shah Chak to Delhi. While the accuracy of the tale that follows is dubious, this popular Kashmiri legend has survived through the years and is told generation after generation. 

When he arrived at the Mughal court, Yusuf Shah Chak was sent to a prison in Bengal right away, never to see his beloved wife ever again. He was later moved to a prison in Bihar where he died and his grave still remains. 

After two unsuccessful Army attacks on Kashmir, Akbar realized that taking Kashmir by force may not be the best way to conquer it and hence, called Yusuf Chak over to Delhi for a peaceful resolution. And in the conquest of acquiring the crown jewel of Kashmir, Akbar imprisoned Yusuf Shah Chak and throttled the romance between the two. After this incident, Habba became ascetic and wandered around the valley singing her songs for the rest of her life.

While there is little documentation of the story of Habba Khatoon and Yusuf Chak, this story has been told and retold, for years and years in the valley.

And while there may be some controversy as to what the actual story is, it is an important incident of Habba Khatun’s life as that is what gave rise to her popularity as a poetess.

Habba Khatoon’s Poetry

Throughout history, there have been several women poets from different kinds of backgrounds and walks of life who did not just consider their voices worth hearing but also dared to stand out and be heard. And Habba Khatun is one among them.

In a time when women’s poetry mostly focussed on spirituality, Habba brought romantic lyrics to hers. While her verses are bold and majorly biographical, they also have a kind of universality to them. Her poetry was strikingly different as compared to the other poets of her time as it was candid and personal.

All of Habba Khatoon’s poems were full of sorrow and some in the memory of her estranged husband. Her soul-stirring poetry is immensely popular in the valley even to this day and her verses on love and romance still captivate the Kashmiris.

Habba Khatun is also credited for introducing ‘lol’ to Kashmiri poetry. ‘Lol’ is basically equivalent to the English ‘lyric’ that conveys brief thought and Habba is known to have introduced it.

The two main incidents that influenced her poetry are the failure of her first marriage and her relationship with Yusuf Shah Chak. 

Through her poems, she remembered her love with the hopes of finding him. She also wrote of the miseries that were inflicted upon her by her in-laws. Having led a difficult life, she also talks about the perils of physical labor and even her descriptions of sweat and toil have a sense of beauty in them.

Her lyrical verses are deeply steeped in romanticism and are highly metaphorical and symbolic. Unlike the spiritual poets of her time, Habba’s verses talk of earthly love and are more pragmatic in nature.

Passed down orally through songs that women sang over the centuries, it is quite possible that the original words of Habba Khatoon poetry have been modified or reinterpreted. 

What made her poetry so powerful is that she spoke in the language of the common people and about the issues that they related with.

Along with several other great poets, Habba’s contribution to the Kashmiri literature is truly phenomenal.  

Habba Khatoon’s Legacy and Appreciation of Work

Habba’s ballads are very much alive and still sung to this day in the valley. Several contemporary Kashmiri lyricists have also acknowledged the fact that her poems have had a huge influence in their own work. And in several modern Kashmiri songs, Habba’s verses can be found.

A mountain peak in the Gurez valley of Kashmir has also been named ‘Habba Khatoon Peak’ after the great poetess. It is believed that she used to wander near this peak, and hence, the name. So if you ever get an opportunity to take a look at this gigantic mountain, you know its history and the story behind its name. Not just a mountain but an underpass in Lahore has also been named after this revolutionary poetess.

Moreover, quite a few books have also been written to honor the Nightingale of Kashmir. ‘Feminism Across Cultures: A Comparative Study of Habba Khatoon and Emily’ by Asma Shaw and ‘Habba Khatoon: The Nightingale of Kashmir’ by S. N. Wakhlu are a few of them.

A collection of Habba Khatoon poetry has also been published by the Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Languages, Arts and Culture.

Interestingly, even the filmmakers of Bollywood had attempted to honor this legendary poetess by thinking of making a film on her not once, not twice but thrice. However, the films were never really completed. While the Bollywood film may never be completed but a Kashmiri film made by Srinagar Doordarshan pays a tribute to Habba Khatoon’s incredible life.

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Conclusion

This was the story of Habba Khatoon, the last poet queen of Kashmir. Having lived a difficult life full of struggles, experiencing true love and giving the world a gift of poetry that will be treasured forever, Habba Khatoon’s life is a true inspiration. Habba Khatun died in 1609 and her tomb lies near Athwajan on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.

Strikingly different from the poets of her time, Habba Khatoon was a bold poetess that Kashmir remembers and will still remember for the generations and generations to come. To know of Habba Khatun is to know of an integral part of Kashmir and more importantly, its literature. While not many people may know her outside of Kashmir, Habaa Khatoon poetry will remain etched in Kashmir’s history forever. 

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Lal Ded: The Mystic of Kashmir

Lal Ded: The Mystic of Kashmir

Fondly called as Lad Ded (Mother Lalla), Lalleshwari was a 14th century Kashmiri mystic and poet. She was the creator of Vakhs, a kind of poetry. A revolutionary mystic of her time, Lal Ded’s verses are some of the earliest Kashmiri compositions and form an integral part of the Kashmiri literature. 

Also known as Lalla or Laleshwari, Lal Ded was an ardent devotee of God Shiva. She also often used her poetry to engage with Shaivism and Sufism. Lal Ded’s verses have come down from generations to generations through the folk tradition of Kashmir and perhaps there isn’t a single Kashmiri who hasn’t heard of her.

Lalleshwari was known to be Kashmir’s rebel poetess for she challenged the ideas of caste system, social and religious discrimination and rejected conventional society. 

In this article, we get to know more about this poetess whose verses are deeply rooted in Kashmir’s culture even today. 

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Life of Lala Ded

She was born sometime around 1320 to 1355 in Pandrethan in Kashmir as ‘Lalleshwari’, in a Kashmiri Pandit family. Later on, she came to be known by many names including Lalla Arifa, Lalla Yogishwari, Lalla Yogini, Laleshwari or simply Lalla. However, Lal Ded is her most recognizable and most commonly known name.

After being briefly educated in the religious texts, she was married off at the age of 12 into a family that regularly mistreated her. Her mother-in-law treated her cruelly and spoke ill of her to her husband. Lalla’s mother-in-law is known to have put stones on her plate of food and then covered it with rice. Even when she was not given proper food and always remained half-fed, Lalleshwari is known to never have complained. 

Every morning, Lal Ded left the house to fill a pot of water from the river and wouldn’t return until it was evening; in-between, she spent her time at Lord Shiva’s temple on the other side of the river. 

Soon, she found her guru in Sidh Srikanth and pursued yoga under him. And when she turned around 26, Lalla renounced her marriage and material life to become a mystic. Having given up all her possessions, she would wander around naked or in rags, chanting her verses.

Laleshwari openly questioned the elite and unassailable Sanskrit academia. It was her unprecedented courage to renounce a conventional life that made her rebel against the tradition and yet, a significant contributor to the Kashmiri culture.

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Interestingly, Lal Ded most probably never saw herself as a poet. In fact, her words were merely mantras or chants that were aimed at praising God. It was her power to impact others that her listeners formed her sayings into chants and mantras. Before her Vakhs came to be published, they have been orally passed down from generation to generation in Kashmir.

She used the first person in her vakhs and also used her names quite frequently. Like, ‘I, Lalli’ or ‘I, Lal’ were commonly used by her.

Lal Ded’s Poetry in Kashmir

Lal Ded’s Vakhs will take you on a beautiful journey through the disillusionment of the world, the distress of the man, a search for God and finally, the realization of the highest truth. Her vakhs not only show her poetic genius but also depict her mystic experiences. 

Although her vakhs are quite personal, the lessons taught by them are universal. Although profound, her humanism makes it easy to relate to Lal Ded’s verses. Thus, her work is timeless and resonates with different people. 

These verses are deeply embedded in Kashmir’s culture. Generation after generation and century after century, her verses have been preserved in collective memory, in songs and in proverbs and hymns in the valley. 

Her vakhs have played a very important role in shaping the Kashmiri language and literature. In one of her well known vakhs, she emphasizes on the fact that there is no distinction between the people of different faiths. In many of her verses, she even defied the patriarchal authority of the Guru. 

One of her most significant contributions include bringing the difficult Shaiva philosophy from the confines of Sanskrit-knowing scholars to the wide spaces of the common Kashmiri-knowing people. While translating these highly evolved yet subtle concepts along with her mystic experiences into a language widely known by the masses, she not only made them easily accessible but also enriched the Kashmiri language. She successfully explained ideas and experiences that would otherwise be unreachable to the ordinary people.

Her easily recitable verses in the mother tongue made her vakhs secure a place in the collective memory of the Kashmiris.

While the beginning of Kashmiri literature is often debated, one thing is for sure- the credit for the revival of the Kashmiri dialect is owed by Lal Ded. 

Since her verses were not written down during her time, it cannot be said for sure how many of her vakhs were actually preserved. Over the many centuries, some may have been changed and some may have been made additions to. 

Lala Ded and Her Popularity

Lal Ded’s openness and her understanding of the genuine problems of the common people is what made her so immensely popular among millions. 

Even today, almost every Kashmiri, irrespective of whether he is Hindu or Muslim, literate or illiterate, is able to recite some of Lal Ded’s Vakhs. Her name in the valley is said with utmost pride, admiration and respect.

Her poetry has also been widely translated including English translations in ‘Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women (1994)’ , ‘Naked Song- Lalla (1992)’ and a lot more.

After having lived most of her life as a mystic and inspiring others, Lal Ded died sometime during the late 14th century.

Final Words on Lal Ded

All in all, Lal-Ded was a wise woman and a genius poetess with an un-shattering faith and confidence made her leave a mark on the world. By knowing more about her, there is no doubt that her contribution to Kashmiri language, culture, tradition as well as heritage is truly commendable. In fact, it is also often said- ‘Lalla is to Kashmiri what Shakespeare is to English’.

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Get to Know the 11 Oldest Languages in the World

Get to Know the 11 Oldest Languages in the World

Man has been living on this planet for millions of years. Obviously, he needed to communicate. Interestingly, he chose to use different languages and not just one. This shows the versatility of man’s knowledge.

If you have a look at some of the oldest languages in the world, the idea of multiple languages will be pretty straightforward. Even if they still remain in use, they are not used as they were in the past.

A number of languages have been erased from the world, leaving only a few traces of their origins. Many others have been modified into something completely different. There are still some warriors who are fighting to sustain themselves in this modern world.

In all honesty, the story of the oldest languages in the world is quite interesting. Before checking out this list, let’s see how many languages do you know about. Let’s do this.

Enumerate the languages that you think are from the oldest languages in the world? 

Also, which do you think is the oldest language in the world? i

Take a wild guess!

Let me give you a heads up. There are some languages in this list that you can never imagine being so old. 

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1. Hebrew

One of the Oldest Languages in the World Spoken by Moses

Hebrew came into light in 400 CE. It is the mother tongue of Jews around the world. It also became the official language of Israel after its formation. The modern version of the language differs from the Biblical version but nevertheless, the native speakers of Hebrew can fully comprehend what is written in the Old Testament.

Modern Hebrew replaced Yiddish as the native Jewish language and other connecting languages and became what is known today, the unified language of the Jews around the world.

2. Tamil

Another Oldest Language in the World That Brought Indians & Arab Traders Closer  

Tamil has inscriptions that date back to the 3rd century BC. Some facts about it will surely astonish people who think that it is a language spoken only by South Indians. It is the only ancient language that has been relevant and existing since its inception whereas many of its counterparts were eradicated by new substitute languages.

It is spoken by about 78 million people (which means it’s spoken outside India too) and is the official language in Sri Lanka and as well as Singapore. Yes! You read it right, Singapore.

Since it is a part of the Dravidian language family, it is also the official language of the state of Tamil Nadu. Unlike Sanskrit which is another ancient Indian language that fell out of common use around 600 BC, Tamil has continued to develop and is now the 20th most commonly spoken language in the world.

Other similar older languages in the world can now only be found only in texts or scriptures. So, Tamil is a great example of being the world’s oldest language that is still relevant and living.

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3. Mayan  

The Pictorial Language 

The Mayan family of languages is another one from the oldest languages in the world. Do you know that there are 32 different dialects of the Mayan language? Hush Hush, all of them can be traced back to the original, which comes from 292 AD.

The original Mayan language didn’t have words to communicate messages but instead used pictures called glyphs. An ancient city discovered in the rain forest of Guatemala called Tikal where a temple having stone shafts was the first place in the world to indicate evidence of the existence Mayan language. It is a native language of the people of Mesoamerica, Honduras, Belize, and Mexico and has about 6 million speakers today.

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4. Ancient Chinese 

The Cho Cho Mo Cho Sounds

Ancient Chinese dates back to more than 3,000 years ago. It is said to have originated in around 1250 B.C. as a part of the Sino-Tibetan language family. The oldest known example of Old Chinese was found at the archaeological site of the ancient city of Yinxu.

At this site, oracle bones with the earliest form of the Chinese language were reported to be found. It was also discovered that there were about 4,000 different characters in Old Chinese but unfortunately today, only half of those have been translated with meaning.

Do you know why?

Because it is a very complicated language and it is very difficult to understand the grammar of Old Chinese. Old Chinese evolved into Middle Chinese around 600 AD and ultimately upgraded into modern Mandarin and Cantonese, thus eradicating one of the oldest languages in the world completely.

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5. Sumerian

World’s Oldest Written Language

Sumerian is known as the oldest written language in the world and it dates back to at least 3500 BC. The earliest proof that the written Sumerian language existed was the Kish Tablet, which was found in Iraq. Sumerian is said to be older than Egyptian, but unfortunately, it only lasted as a spoken language until around 2000 BC. Later it was replaced by another language, called Akkadian.

It was unknown to the world until the 19thcentury. It was discovered by some archaeologists while researching ancient Arabic and European cultures.

6. Arabic 

The Language of the Quran 

Arabic can be traced all the way back early 328 A.D. Arabic is a member of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Today, it is spoken by citizens of the Arab league and parts of Africa, Asia and also Europe. It currently has about 420 million speakers. Perhaps it is one of the world’s oldest languages with the highest number of speakers. 

In 1901, the proof of the Arabic language to be ancient was discovered from the Namara inscription and with time it has evolved drastically and unfolded into many variants. New versions of the original Arabic vocabulary and grammar have evolved lately.

Though there are some debates over the inscription being incomplete Arabic language, still it is said to be a very early form of the language. To be exact, its inscriptions were found on a basalt rock, which is alleged to have come from a tomb proving a certain connection between the Romans and Arabs dating back to the fourth century.

The holy book of the Muslims known as the Quran is also written in the Arabic Language. It is one of the most memorized books on the planet. That is a reason through which Classic Arabic has been preserved over the last 1400 years. 

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7. Egyptian 

The Language the Pharos Spoke

The first known record of Egyptian language was found in a tomb that dates back to 2690 BC. Egyptian is said to have originated in 3300 B.C. It is an Afro-Asiatic language that was native to the people of Ancient Egypt and was spoken until the 17th century.

It was gradually replaced by modern Arabic and other local forms of the language. Today, it has vanished completely as a written language and as well as a spoken language. It has been successfully translated over the years by many well-known linguists and many texts and scriptures have been understood giving vivid details about the ancient Egyptian culture as well.  

8. Mycenaean Greek

The mystery is always Greek

Mycenaean Greek is one of the earliest forms of the Greek language. It dates as far back as the 1600 BC. As a member of the Indo-European language family, it is was spoken in Southern Balkans and Modern Greece. Just like many other Greek tragedies, this language is officially extinct. It was deciphered in the 1950s.

As of today, the text mostly exists in inventories and lists and doesn’t have any form of literature written in it. Although not significant, there are still some small existing examples of Mycenaean Greek. It is believed that the use of this language ended when the Mycenaean civilization fell. A point to note is that Arcadocypriot Greek, another form of the Greek language, is very similar to the Mycenaean version.

9. Aramaic

They say, Jesus spoke this

Aramaic is a biblical language that has been around for more than 3,000 years. It is said to have originated in 900 B.C. Just to give proof for how ancient this language is, it is said that it was spoken by Jesus and his disciples.

In today’s modern era, Aramaic is an obsolete language and there isn’t a soul alive today who speaks it. Or perhaps, some claim it is about to die. They say that there are few villages today that speak the same language but slowly and rapidly every form of this language is fading away with time and as of now out of 7 billion people, there are only 450,000 people today that speak this language.

10. Latin

Remember Latino Heat? 

The oldest form of Latin is known as Old Latin. It can be traced back to 700 B.C.

Latin was the common language in the Roman Empire and most parts of Southern Europe. Just like Sanskrit, it is recognized as a part of the Indo-European language family. In many parts of Europe many ancient documents and monuments, dating back to the earliest of centuries, are scribbled with ancient Latin.

Although gradually it has faded away as a spoken language and replaced by languages like French, Italian, and Spanish, etc., it is still seen as a written language. It is not known how many people speak a form of Latin in today’s time, but there are many Latin enthusiasts even today. These people are keen on keeping Latin, which is one of the oldest languages in the world, alive. 

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11. Sanskrit 

The language that Indians love, but don’t speak

Just like its fellow language Tamil, Sanskrit is another ancient language that dates to around 100 AD. Sanskrit is also a member of the Indo-European family it is spoken by Indians, Nepalese and people from neighboring areas of the subcontinent.

As of today, it is spoken by only 14000+ people. The first known example of the existence of ancient Sanskrit was found in the city of Ayodhya and also in other states like Gujrat. There are many variations of Sanskrit known to researchers. Interestingly, for about 2,000 years, it was the main language of several areas of Southeast Asia but was gradually replaced by Hindi and other local official languages.

Over to You

So tell me did the list of the oldest languages in the world surprise you? Numbers 1 and 2 surely did surprise me.

Apart from this small list, there are many more languages that have their roots tracing back to the beginning of time. There are many other undiscovered languages with deep cultures and history embedded in them, waiting to be unfolded.

Let’s see with time, how many of the oldest languages of the world can we discover?

Btw, do you feel interested in the Kashmiri lifestyle? Check out our amazing collection of handmade luxury on our shopping page.

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The Life & Legacy Mirza Ghalib – All You Want to Know

The Life & Legacy Mirza Ghalib – All You Want to Know

I was introduced to the amazing works of Mirza Ghalib in my school. As a child, I used to study the Urdu language and that’s when the names and works of some awesome people like Ghalib from the world of Urdu were introduced to me.

This opportunity to be able to know some of these great personalities ignited a passion in me. The passion was to study Urdu poetry & literature in depth! And thankfully this passion has not died ever since.

I am writing this blog post to give you a complete insight into the life of Mirza Ghalib. The life of a magnificent poet. A poet forgotten!

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Honestly, the lives of some of our venerated Urdu poets have been lost and are in a dire need of a rebirth, at least in mention.

Who was Mirza Ghalib?

Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan, widely known as Mirza Ghalib / Mirja Ghalib or simply Ghalib was a conspicuous Urdu and Persian poet. He lived during the last years of the Mughal Empire.

Due to his marvelous abilities as a poet both in Urdu & Persian, he was given a number of honorific titles. Some of those titles are Dabir-ul-Mulk, Najm-ud-Daula and Mirza Nosha.

Some academics have regarded Mirza Ghalib as the last great poet of the Mughal Era. He is also considered from the pioneers who transformed the Urdu language.

Early Life of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib

Mirza Ghalib was born on 27th December 1797 in Kala Mahal, Agra into a family descended from Aibak Turks who had moved to Samarkand (Uzbekistan). His paternal grandfather, Mirza Qoqan Baig, was a Seljuq Turk who had immigrated to India from Samarkand during the reign of Ahmad Shah. After his migration to India, Ghalib’s grandfather worked throughout the country including in cities like Lahore, Delhi and Jaipur. But destiny made him to finally settle in Agra.

A Tribute to Mirza Ghalib

A Tribute to Mirza Ghalib

Mirja Ghalib’s grandfather married and had four sons and three daughters. Mirza Abdullah Baig (Ghalib’s father) and Mirza Nasrullah Baig were two of his sons. Mirza Ghalib’s father married Izzat-ut-Nisa Begum, an ethnic Kashmiri. 

On a side note, like all other great men like Iqbal and Sanullah Amritsari, Ghalib had roots in Kashmir too. That makes me wonder if greatness is a Kashmiri thing. And I love to joke!  

Coming back to the discussion, when Ghalib was a little over 5 years of age, his father died in a battle. This grief-filled year was 1803. He was buried in Alwar. Mirza Ghalib was then raised by his Uncle Mirza Nasrullah Baig Khan.

Mirza Nasrullah Baig Khan was the governor of Agra under the Marathas. The British appointed him as an officer of 400 cavalrymen, fixed his salary at Rs.1700/- month, and awarded him two Parganas in Mathura. When he died in 1806, the British took away the Parganas and fixed his pension as Rs. 10,000 per year.

He was linked to the state of Firozepur Jhirka (present-day Mewat, Haryana). The Nawab of Ferozepur Jhirka reduced the pension to Rs. 3000 per year. So, Ghalib’s share was Rs. 62.50 / month.

A Sneak Peak into Ghalib’s Career

Mirza Ghalib started composing poetry at the age of 11. Although his first language was Urdu, Persian and Turkish were also spoken at home due to his ancestry. Apart from Urdu, he received an education in Persian and Arabic at a young age. When Mirza Ghalib was in his early teens, a tourist from Iran Abdus Samad, who had recently converted to Islam from Zoroastrian, came to Agra and stayed at Ghalib’s home for two years and taught him Persian, Arabic, Philosophy, and Logic.

He had written most of his famous ghazals by the age of nineteen. That’s too young for the quality and depth of his ghazals. At that time ghazals were written mostly to express love, pain and sadness. But Mirza Ghalib had different ideas.

He revolutionized this genre and expressed philosophy and the struggles and mysteries of life. Mirza Sahab wrote ghazals on many other subjects, vastly expanding the scope of the ghazal.

At that time the Urdu language was very decorative and formal.  But the genius in Mirza Ghalib made this language very familiar and relatable. This is most notably seen in the letters that he used to send to his friends. These letters were filled with humor and wit.

Letter writing subsequently became an art which he mastered. His letters were written in a first-person narrative and seemed like he was conversing with the receiver in person. These letters were very informal. He would just write the name of the person and start the letter.

His style was revolutionary and he gave letter writing a whole new meaning. This art of letter writing was so inculcated in him that many scholars say that Mirza Ghalib would have had the same place in Urdu literature as he has today, only if he just wrote letters.

The Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar II was himself a poet. Mirza Ghalib was appointed as his tutor in 1854, thus he became an important courtier of the royal court. He was also appointed as the tutor of Prince Fakhr-ud Din Mirza, eldest son of Bahadur Shah II. Another feather in his cap was his appointment as the royal historian of Mughal Court.

Last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah II with sons Mirza Jawan Bakht & Mirza Shah Abbas

Last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah II with sons Mirza Jawan Bakht & Mirza Shah Abbas

Contemporaries & Disciples of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib

Mirza Ghalib’s closest rival was the poet Zauq. Zauq was also the tutor of Bahadur Shah Zafar II. There are some amusing anecdotes of the competition between Mirza Ghalib and Zauq and exchange of jibes between them. However, there was mutual respect for each other’s talent.

Interestingly, both these men admired and acknowledged the supremacy of Meer Taqi Meer, a towering figure of 18th century Urdu Poetry.

Another poet Momin, whose ghazals had a distinctly lyrical flavor, was also a famous contemporary of Ghalib.

Surprisingly, Asadullah Khan Ghalib was not only a poet, but he was also a prolific prose writer. His letters are a reflection of the political and social climate of the time. They also refer to many contemporaries like Mir Mehdi Majrooh, who himself was a good poet and Ghalib’s life-long acquaintance.

In 1855, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan finished his well-researched and illustrated edition of Abul Fazl’s Ai’n-e Akbari and approached the Ghalib to write a taqriz (in the convention of the times, a laudatory foreword) for it.

Although Ghalib accepted it with utmost respect, yet the story is interesting. Mirza Ghalib produced a short Persian poem that criticized the Ai’n-e Akbari greatly and with it the Mughal culture which the book represented. Ghalib basically reprimanded Syed Ahmad Khan for wasting his talents on such a piece and in turn praised the British.

As a result, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan never again wrote a word in praise of the Ai’n-e Akbari and in fact gave up taking an active interest in history and archaeology and became a social reformer.

Personal Life of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib

When Mirza Ghalib was thirteen years old, in accordance with upper-class Muslim tradition he got married to Umrao Begum, daughter of Nawab Ilahi Bakhsh who was the brother of the Nawab of Ferozepur Jhirka. He soon moved to Delhi, along with his younger brother. Ghalib described his marriage as a form of captivity in one of his letters.

During his marriage, he had seven children but none of them survived beyond infancy, a pain prominently felt in many of his ghazals. There are conflicting reports regarding his marriage and relationship with his wife. She was considered to be a pious and God-fearing woman whereas Ghalib was proud of his reputation as a prodigal person.

It is said that he was once imprisoned for gambling and subsequently relished the affair with pride. In the Mughal court circles, he even acquired a reputation as a “ladies man”. He loved food and especially mangoes.

Later Life of Mirza Sahab

Ghalib saw the decline of the Mughal dynasty and its whole bureaucracy and aristocracy, and subsequently saw the rise of the British Rule. During his lifetime he never worked for a livelihood and lived on either royal patronage of Mughal Emperors, or credits and generosity of his friends.

The Mirza Ghalib we know today became so after his death as he had himself mentioned. It was a prediction that he himself had made. After the decline of the Mughal Empire and the rise of British Raj, despite his many attempts, Ghalib could never get the full pension restored.

Mirza Ghalib Poetry

Mirza Ghalib Poetry

Ghalib was a reporter of this turbulent period and saw the end of the feudal elite to which Ghalib had belonged. One by one, Ghalib saw the bazaars of Delhi like Khas Bazaar, Urdu Bazaar, Kharam-ka Bazaar, disappear along with whole mohallas and lanes slowly vanish. The havelis of his friends were demolished and he stated that Delhi was longer the rich cultured place as it used to be. It had turned into a desert and a military camp of the British.

He died in Delhi on February 15, 1869, and was buried in Hazrat Nizamuddin near the tomb of Nizamuddin Auliya.

The house where he lived in Gali Qasim Jaan, Ballimaran, Chandni Chowk, in Old Delhi has now been turned into ‘Ghalib Memorial’ and houses a permanent Ghalib exhibition.

Legacy & Books of Mirza Ghalib

The first complete English translation of Ghalib’s ghazals was written by Sarfaraz K. Niazi and published by Rupa & Co in India and Ferozsons in Pakistan. The title of this book is Love Sonnets of Ghalib and it contains complete Roman transliteration, explication and an extensive lexicon.

His letters have been translated by Ralph Russell in The Oxford Ghalib. Urdu Letters of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, have been translated by Daud Rahbar in the SUNY Press in 1987.

Kulliyat-e-Ghalib Farsi, an anthology of Persian poetry of well-known Urdu poet Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib first released at Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) and later released at Tehran by Ambassadors of India and Pakistan jointly at a function sponsored by Iranian Ministry of Arts and Culture in Tehran on 20 September 2010.

This rare collection contains 11,337 verses of Ghalib, was compiled by Dr. Syed Taqi Abedi. Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Abidi said that the study of Ghalib would be incomplete without his Persian poetry. Although Ghalib had earned his reputation in Urdu literature, the poet of the Mughal era was more inclined towards Persian and produced high-order poetry in that language.

At the literary “ru-ba-ru session” organized by the Haryana Urdu Academy, where Dr. Taqi offered an analytical study of the works of legendary poet Mirza Ghalib, both in Persian as well as Urdu.

He informs that Ghalib wrote 1,792 couplets in Urdu by the year 1865 as against the 11,340 in Persian. He also opined that Ghalib was a visionary, a poet of humanism whose works are popular even after three centuries.

Mirza Ghalib & the Cinema

The sub-continental cinema has paid much tribute to the great poet. Be that through films, television, plays or music. Sheila Bhatia’s productions, Begum Abida Ahmed and Surendra Verma’s play performed by the National School of Drama are only some of the many artists who have made plays on the life and works of Mirza Ghalib.

Many ghazal singers have sung his poetry immortalizing his poems for the generations to come. Maestros of music like Jagjit Singh, Mehdi Hassan, Abida Parveen, Farida Khanum, Tina Sani, Madam Noor Jehan, Mohammed Rafi, Asha Bhosle, Begum Akhtar, Ghulam Ali, Lata Mangeshkar, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan have sung his ghazals.

Gulzar produced a TV serial, Mirza Ghalib (1988) which used to be telecasted on DD National and was a massive success in India. Naseeruddin Shah played the role of Ghalib in the serial, and it featured ghazals sung and composed by Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh. The serial’s music has since been recognized as Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh’s magnum opus, enjoying a cult following in the Indian subcontinent.

Conclusion

Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan aka Mirza Ghalib is a towering figure in the ranks of literary figures of the Indian Subcontinent. And is an important poet who needs to be studied by every lover of Urdu literature and poetry. 

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