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Becoming Turk the Rajput Way: Conversion and Identity in an Indian Warrior Narrative

Cynthia Talbot
Modern Asian Studies
Vol. 43, No. 1, Expanding Frontiers in South Asian and World History: Essays in Honour of John F. Richards (Jan., 2009), pp. 211-243
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20488077
Page Count: 33
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Becoming Turk the Rajput Way: Conversion and Identity in an Indian Warrior Narrative
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Abstract

The Kyamkhanis were a small Indian Muslim community who flourished in northern Rajasthan from c. 1450 to 1730. This article examines memories of the Kyamkhani past recorded in a seventeenth-century history of the ruling lineage, as a case study of both the process of Islamic expansionism in South Asia and the self-identity of rural Muslim gentry. While celebrating the ancestor who had converted to Islam generations earlier, the Kyamkhanis also represented themselves as local warriors of the Rajput class, an affiliation that is considered exclusively Hindu in India today. Their history was written in a local literary language, Braj Bhasa, rather than in the more cosmopolitan Persian that was widely used by Muslim elites at the time. The Kyamkhanis of the early modern era thus negotiated multiple social and cultural spheres, simultaneously participating in the local/vernacular as well as global/cosmopolitan arenas.

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