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This chapter considers the crucial Mughal-Sufi relationship of the princess Jahanara Begam (1614–1681) with her pir Mullah Shah Badakshi (1585–1661) and in conjunction with her two Sufi treatises, Munis al-arvah (1640) and Risalah-i Sahibiyah (1641) and her prominent patronage within a politically pivotal moment during Emperor Shah Jahan’s reign (r. 1628–58). It locates the modes of masculine strategies that the princess appropriated to cultivate the multiple subjects and objects of her representation and to uphold the Mughal sociopolitical and religious ideology. The work considers Jahanara’s textual and architectural narratives as forms of male Mughal prerogatives and bureaucratic practice that allowed the princess as the emperor’s “consort queen” to advance imperial agendas, sustain sovereignty, and conceptualize her subjecthood/objecthood. The concept of the imperial self as both a synecdoche of royal subject and representative has been determined by recent scholarship on first-person narratives that crafts and conceptualizes identity as both physical and ephemeral and simultaneously imbues textual and physical space.

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