Mughal Exhibition: Marriage Contract – Daita Goswamy

Mughal Exhibition: Marriage Contract - Daita Goswamy

This ornate document is a marriage contract from the Mughal Exhibition. What struck me about it initially was the grandeur of it. It shows the importance of such a document which is certainly a contrast to the documents we see today. Contemporary documents tend to be white pieces of paper printed with blank ink and no matter how important the document, it is rare that it would be more impressive than that. In a tangible sense, it de-emphasizes the importance of what is written in the contract. It is less stirring to a person to see a regular printed piece of paper than something like this. Historically, it may have been in order to establish the importance of the emperor that his marriage contract for one wife (thought he had a few) was this grand. Perhaps because it was his favourite wife? The description on the item said it was for a 19 year old woman whom he took with him when he was exiled as she was his favourite. It bears the seal, interestingly, of his eldest son. This reflects the societal norms of the time as it shows that polygamy was perfectly normal and accepted, to the point that the son of one wife would endorse a marriage between his father and another wife. It contains a description of the amount of money etc that would be given to the wife over the course of the marriage which I also found interesting. There was a much more business-like aspect to love than perhaps exists today but this does not seem demeaning to either party involved. It merely seems like a nice gesture. But it does give a different meaning to the idea of a marriage “contract”.


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