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Courtly Culture and Political Life in Early Medieval India
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  • Page extent: 318 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.64 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 954.02/1
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: DS425 .A645 2004
  • LC Subject headings:
    • India--Court and courtiers--History
    • India--Civilization--To 1200

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521816274 | ISBN-10: 0521816270)

Scholars have long studied classical Sanskrit culture in almost total isolation from its courtly context. This book focuses exclusively on the royal court as a social and cultural institution. Using both literary and inscriptional sources, it begins with the rise and spread of royal households and political hierarchies from the Gupta period (c.350–750), and traces the emergence of a coherent courtly worldview which would remain stable for almost a millennium to 1200. Later chapters examine key features of courtly life such as: manners, ethics, concepts of personal beauty, and theories of disposition. The book ends with a sustained examination of the theory and practice of erotic love in the context of the wider social dynamics and anxieties which faced the people of the court.

• A scholarly and sophisticated contribution to a field which has been neglected • A literary as well as historical endeavour with appeal to an indisciplinary market • The author is already renowned in his field as one of the few historians of the period


Introduction; Part I. The Rise and Structure of Courtly Life in Early Medieval India: 1. The people of the court; 2. The culture of the court; 3. The protocol of the court; Part II. Aesthetics and the Courtly Sensibility: 4. Beauty and refinement; 5. The education of disposition; Part III. Anxiety and Romance: 6. Courtship and the royal household; 7. The battle of love; Postscript.


Review of the hardback: 'This insightful work offers an exciting, new perspective on the culture of classical India, one that is sure to inject fresh vigour into this neglected, and until recently almost moribund, field of study. Ali does what no one has done before … It is a major contribution to the field and should be read by everyone with a serious interest in India's early culture.' South Asian Studies

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