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So Who's Afraid Of The Indian States?

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Pillar Of The Community
2663 Posts
Posted 04/08/2010   03:50 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add spock1k to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
unfortunately most of the coat of arms in india are of european lineage here is a theory ont he bhopal one

Bhopal: Bourbon who, ask many. A Bourbon in Bhopal, query even those with a nodding acquaintance with the regionís history. An advocate making the rounds of the district court? With a Dutch wife running a commonplace English medium higher secondary school in a back alley of congested Jahangirabad? And a teenaged son wanting to make films like Satyajit Ray and Akira Kurosawa? Amusing, perplexing if not altogether shocking. Talk of the perfect square peg in a round hole.

Indeed, ìCíest moi,î burbles the amiable, portly, and utterly Indian Balthazar Napoleon Bourbon IV, the 40-year-old scion of Asiaís only surviving Bourbon clan, one of the six collateral branches of Europeís most celebrated line of royals who presided over the fortunes of France from 1610 till 1792 before the most illustrious member of the clan, Louis IV, was put to the guillotine by Robespierre and his rogues during the peak of the Terror. The Bourbon sovereignties also extended over Spain, the two Sicilies, and the duchy of Parma.

Though not quite in that enviable league, there was a time when the homegrown Bourbons, says Balthazar, owned virtually ìhalf of Bhopalî. All that remains of the jagir, he bemoans, is 60 acres of farmland, a few shops, and a respectable haveli discreetly tucked behind the school premises. ìThe House of Bourbon,î as the entrance announces, was a transit point for members of the clan who came on elephants to attend the neighbouring church, Bhopalís first. Even the coat of arms (a fleur de lis) adopted by the princely State of Bhopal was a Bourbon hand-down.

Christianity, in fact, sneaked into the royal State of Bhopal wrapped in the coat-tails of the first Bourbon resident, Salvador de Bourbon (Inayat Masih), who settled here around 1783. Both he and his son, Balthazar (great-grandfather of the present descendant) went on to become leading figures in the Bhopal court by virtue of their proximity to Wazir Mohammad Khan (great-grandson of Bhopalís founder Dost Mohammad Khan), then the virtual ruler. It was Balthazar (Shahzad Masih) whose wife, Isabella, got the first church built in the vicinity.

A swashbuckling soldier and military strategist, the multifaceted talents of the firang were noticed, and he was appointed political counsellor to the formidable regent, Qudsia Begum, whose lover he became for some time after the death of her husband Nazar Mohammad Khan, son of Wazir. It was Balthazar de Bourbon who was singularly responsible for ushering in in 1819 the 107-year-old rule of the four Begums in a conservative Muslim society where a womanís only place was the harem.

The deep debt of gratitude she owed Balthazar finds mention in the Hayaat-e-Qudsia. Though Balthazar was poisoned by jealous Afghan courtiers in 1829, Qudsia remained regent till 1837, and lived to see the rule of both her daughter Sikandar (1844-68) and grand-daughter Shahjahan (1868-1901) till her death in 1881. Balthazar was the first Bourbon to shake off his European trappings and become a pucca Oriental.

Hence, the smooth morph into Shahzad Masih. So well did life in Bhopal suit him that he even learned Persian and Urdu, penning verse in the latter under the nom de plume Fitrat. Wife Isabella transformed into Sarkar Dulhan, outliving her husband by over four decades. Son Sebastian (Ejaz Masih) briefly served as prime minister to Sikandar Jahan Begum. Louis Rousselet, a French traveller, has an interesting account of a meeting with Isabella in his book Indian And its Native Princes published in 1875.

The presence of the Bourbons in India, however, goes further back. The very first, Jean Philippe, landed in the court of the Emperor Akbar in 1560. A cousin of Henri IV (the first Bourbon to rule France) and son of the constable of Pau in southern France, Jean fled his country after spilling the blood of a Gascon kin in what was a duel of honour. He escaped to Portugal, was captured by Turkish pirates, sold to the Otto-man emperor Suleiman the Magnificent, and set sail for India in the company of Abyssinian Christians.

Here the enterprising Gascon secured an audience with the emperor Akbar who impressed by his adventures appointed him commander of guns and sought his help in reorganising the army. Akbar got him married to a Portuguese beauty, Juliana Mascrenhas, sister of his Christian wife Maria. Akbar granted him a large estate in Shergarh, south of Delhi, where successive generations of Bourbons till Salvador lived in luxury.

The sacking of Delhi by the Persian plunderer Nadir Shah in 1740 forced Salvador to move to Gwalior where he was made quiledar of the impregnable Gwalior Fort. And when the Fort fell to the Mahratta chieftain Mahadji Scindia, packed his bags for safe and serene Bhopal. The Bourbon fortunes plummeted soon after the ascension of Shahjahan Begum in 1868. This was largely due to the influence of her second husband and consort, Syed Saddiq Hassan, a fanatical Wahabi who virtually pauperised the Bourbons by confiscating all their jagirs granted since the days of Shahzad Masih.

This left the clan with no choice than to earn their livelihood by eking out a middle class existence as doctors, priests, nurses, or teachers. The blackballing of the Bourbons continued during the reign of Sultan Jahan Begum despite her secular mindset. Balthazar feels the Bourbons paid a heavy price for their great-grandfatherís ìaffairî with the venerable Qudsia. Contemporaries thought it a vile conspiracy by a Christian to defile the reputation of a devout and just Muslim ruler. Around 1960, he says, they also lost possession of the Lakherapura palace in a family partition. The palace was later demolished.

Circumstances also compelled his father Salvador to earn his livelihood by taking up the legal profession into whose shoes has stepped the son.To most Bhopalis, the Bourbons remain nothing more than a slightly reclusive family (admission into their precinct wasnít easy) with a surname which closely rhymes with bon-bon. Blame it on their down to earth, unpretentious ways, unlike the des-cendants of the Nawabs.

But history, as the Pakistani diplomat Shaharyar Khan (great-grandson of Sultan Jahan Begum) once half-jokingly remarked, could have been tantalisingly different. Were it not for Balthazarís backing, Qudsia would never have been Begum, and the East India Company might have ended up appointing Shahzad Masih nawab instead. In which case Bhopal might have been added to the list of Bourbon possessions
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Rest in Peace
Canada
6750 Posts
Posted 04/08/2010   4:02 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Puzzler to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you tonymacg and spock1k for all the information and history.

All fascinating.
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Pillar Of The Community
Australia
3547 Posts
Posted 04/08/2010   7:53 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
It is indeed a fascinating story. As the English writer William Dalrymple reminds us, there was a time, in the early days, when Europeans and Indians mixed on terms of equality.

This item is on a vastly smaller scale, but still an interesting little example of the same sort of interaction. It's an undated letter sent from the court of Indore, with the Indore seal dated equivalent to 1846 CE, to the ruler of the neighbouring state of Dhar.



The intriguing part is the letter, which is still enclosed. It is written in Nagari (local) script, but signed 'D. Wilkie'



and with his trilingual seal. Here's a close-up



I haven't been able to trace him, or what he was doing at the Indore court, but there might be a story here too.
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Pillar Of The Community
Australia
3547 Posts
Posted 04/08/2010   8:35 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Maharaja Kerala Varma II (the 'Fourth Raja') ascended the throne in 1941 ... and died two years later in 1943, just in time for the set of stamps bearing his portrait to appear.



The 1 Anna stamps were still inscribed for postage and revenue use. As they didn't meet any particular postal need, they're uncommon used. Beware of cleaned fiscal uses, either regummed and offered as mint, or with faked cancels. I'm not very confident about this example

When these stamps were printed, there were still some supplies of the old small umbrella watermark paper left, so they were used up, and the balance of the printing was made on the large sheet watermark paper. As well as that, the printers were using two different machines to perforate the stamps, gauging 11 and 13x13½. Certain combinations of watermark and perforation are rare - and who knows? Other combinations, not yet discovered, may also exist. It's well worth examining every Fourth Raja stamp rather closely.

The official overprints were - according to Gibbons - only made on stamps with the large sheet watermark (but who knows?) and with the thin type overprint. They included some values that weren't issued for ordinary use, such as this 3 Anna:



SG O73a

The printers had now introduced a third perforator, gauging a straight 13, so these official overprints are found with this, as well as 11 and 13x13½. Only the 4 Pies value is listed in all three, but once again - who knows? Worth checking any of these you have.

Inevitably, I suppose, these stamps, both the ordinary and officials, were also surcharged in 1943 and 1944. The surcharges follow the same pattern as those for the previous Maharaja, appearing in various types and values. Most of the surcharges are cheaper than the unsurcharged types. Here's an example of a surcharge on the official stamps:



SG O78

Gibbons only lists these surcharges as occurring on the large sheet watermarked paper, and as perf 13x13½ or 11. That may well be, but a new discovery mightn't pay for a new house, but it ought to be worth a small holiday!

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Pillar Of The Community
2663 Posts
Posted 04/09/2010   07:17 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add spock1k to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
tony if you received an official letter from me you would be amazed :)
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Pillar Of The Community
Australia
3547 Posts
Posted 04/09/2010   08:15 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:

tony if you received an official letter from me you would be amazed :)


Flabbergasted
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Pillar Of The Community
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Posted 04/09/2010   08:32 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add spock1k to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
you might even jump for joy but I am worried you might jump too high for you own good :)
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Pillar Of The Community
Australia
3547 Posts
Posted 04/09/2010   09:46 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Spock, if you send me all your narsty old used Barwani, I'll astonish everyone with how high I jump.
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Pillar Of The Community
Australia
1996 Posts
Posted 04/09/2010   09:50 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jubilee to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Does anyone except you actually have any Barwani??
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Pillar Of The Community
Australia
3547 Posts
Posted 04/09/2010   10:05 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Jubilee, I think I've heard that the Masai tribe of East Africa believe that all the cattle in the world belong to them. Well, as far as Barwani is concerned ...

Actually, there are still one or two collections around with Barwani in them. I have the addresses of the owners, and will deal with them in due course.
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Pillar Of The Community
Australia
1996 Posts
Posted 04/09/2010   10:11 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jubilee to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Great answer Tony, you didn't disappoint!
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Pillar Of The Community
Australia
3547 Posts
Posted 04/09/2010   10:25 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
We aim to please, Jubilee
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Pillar Of The Community
Australia
3547 Posts
Posted 04/09/2010   9:29 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Before moving on to the next Raja issues, a note about gum. (Are you listening, Spock?) Most of the issues from The Associated Printers appeared either with or without gum, and a few both with and without gum. An unused stamp of Cochin without gum from around 1938 onwards is not necessarily defective.

Now, after all the dramas of the Maharaja Kerala Varma II (Fourth Raja) issues, the two types for Maharaja Ravi Varma (Fifth Raja) are almost simplicity itself.

Three values appeared in 1944. Conveniently, the 9 Pies and 1 Anna 9 Pies were both printed in blue. (The member of Stamp Design Committee responsible for that decision was probably dealt with fairly severely.)

There were two dies of the 9 Pies, distinguishable by the line of shading on the Maharaja's cheek:



In Type I, there is a diagonal line forming a V; in Type II, the diagonal line is missing. Type 1 is (according to Gibbons) only found perf 11 - Type II is perf 13 or 13x13½. That doesn't stop me from always checking the types, and not simply relying on the perforations, though

These were also overprinted for official use. The 1 Anna 3 Pies overprint seems to have caused the printers problems. You often find partial or complete doubling of the overprint.

A longer set appeared in 1946 (the year in which the Maharaja died) with a slightly less unflattering portrait of him:



(SG 102, 105 and 108)

Some values of the set must have had very small printings. Gibbons rates the 4 Pies stamp at £2750 mint. Other values, like the 3 Annas (the top value of the set) are relatively common. Off cover, the 3 Annas above is £1.75. There was also a range of perforations used: always check the perforations of any stamp from this set.

Some of these, and some additional values, were also overprinted for official use. They are supposed to exist only perf 13 ...
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Pillar Of The Community
2663 Posts
Posted 04/10/2010   01:53 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add spock1k to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
barwani is a micro nation issue by Tony

i am sure he will read this post twice. :)

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Pillar Of The Community
Australia
3547 Posts
Posted 04/10/2010   02:15 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Get away with you, Spock. Even the British admitted that it existed



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