Unlike everyone else I was not able to snap a photo of this beautiful book of songs without getting scolded. Nor was I able to find the image on the web. So instead of leaving it all to written description and memory I drew out some key elements, and smaller parts that drew my attention to it. This (or what I tried to draw with my talented artistic skills) is A book of songs of Nayak Bhakshu. First its contents; it contains 1,004 dhrupad (Indian classical songs) written in Braj Bhasha (related to Hindustani). These songs were intended to royal use in the courts. One thing that is pointed out is that Shah Jahan’s name is written on every page in gold calligraphy, and the calligraphy is absolutely beautiful, unlike my squiggles to not even attempt the language. Inside this book held the most popular songs to be sung at that time and the book sure did look important.
This is not like one of our books nowadays, it is not black ink printed on white paper, with the only thing that could be unique the font and size of the letters. No, in this time books were taken differently, especially ones to be used in court. They were as much a part of the decoration and scenery as a chair, to be used but also to be seen. The book in the British Library was opened up to one page, I’m not sure if it was a random one, the best preserved, or the most beautfiul, but it is hard to believe that the rest of the pages didn’t reflect what I saw on just those two. Along the border of the page was dark blue. Then there was a gold design against it (crudely shown in my picture). Then came a black outlined box which inside held more gold and blue. The lettering was in black ink while surrounding each curves and groove was light blue. Then surrounding the blocks of text of light blue was gold. What I only saw upon closer inspection was the veins with flowers in intricate patterns both between the blocks of text and along the border. These veins were also done in gold. These two pages alone were so vibrant and beautiful I wanted to flip through the book to see the rest. The beauty of the book is important. The art of the book establishes legitimacy. Anyone can have a plain book with the same words written in it, but only the Shah has one so beautiful with his name written in gold on every page. Even a special calligrapher is hired to make the book, an artist doing his craft.