Digitised Legal Documents from the Indo-Persian World

Archival Collections

Each archival collection given below is a cluster of documents with some specific historical unity. Most collections are related to a particular family or lineage; others have been selected to illustrate particular documentary forms. While some of these collections are housed within a single archive or private library, others are scattered across multiple institutions. The collections presented below are ordered from largest to smallest by the number of documents available on this site.

Purshottam Das collection

This was the household archive of a family of landlords from district Dhar in central India. The archive was scattered and subsequently reconstructed from 3 locations – the National Archives of India, New Delhi; the Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah Museum, Kuwait; and the Choudhary Family Collection, Dhar.

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Ratansi Purshottam collection

This collection principally pertains to the business activities of Ratansi Purshottam, a Kachhchi businessman in Muscat, Oman, whose family has been doing business out of the port city since the mid-nineteenth century. Ratansi Purshottam was engaged in the trade in general merchandise and arms, but also moneylending, until his death in 1904. More than half of the family’s documents are currently housed in the National Archives and Records Authority in Muscat; the rest remain in the family’s possession, and form part of the private collection of Ratanshi Purshottam great-grandson, Vimal Purecha.

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James Tod collection

This collection was assembled by the British East India Company official Lietenant-Colonel James Tod in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. While posted in Rajputana (known as Rajasthan today), Tod acquired manuscripts and commissioned copies of various historical documents from the region, many of which he used to write a history of the region entitled 'Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan.' Tod was a founding member of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland and donated his manuscripts to the society, mostly after his death. The documents presented on this site are a small selection of these materials.

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Indore Mandloi collection

This is a household archive of the Mandlois, a family of landlords from Indore in central India. First holding tax-free rights to land in the district Kampel, they were central to Mughal and Maratha governance of the Malwa region as well as to the founding of Indore city. This collection is currently housed in the family's main residence, known the Bada Raola, in Indore.

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Arabic Deeds (Zanzibar) collection

This collection refers to the series of Arabic deeds and contracts copied in registers dating to the nineteenth century that are held in the General Deeds (AM) collection at the Zanzibar National Archives, Tanzania. Each document copy is numbered in the register, and below the copied Arabic text there is an English summary as well as the date the copy was made and the signature of the British Vice Consul in Zanzibar. Private deeds were registered in this way in anticipation of legal disputes.

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Jodhpur Bahi collection

This collection consists of entries from hundreds of registers known as bahis maintained by the Kingdom of Marwar and later Jodhpur Princely State in western Rajasthan. Many of these registers are now held in the Rajasthan State Archives, Bikaner. The documents from this collection featured on this site are drawn from a series known as the Jodhpur Sanad Parvana Bahis, which contain official copies of government orders.

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Gujarati Deeds (Zanzibar) collection

This collection refers to the series of Gujarati deeds and contracts held in the General Deeds (AM) collection at the Zanzibar National Archives, Tanzania. Primarily produced in the second half of the nineteenth century, these documents are copies registered by Gujarati merchants, and their wives and widows, with the British consulate in anticipation of legal disputes. A Gujarati clerk copied each deed into the register and assigned it an identifying number; then, a short English descriptions was added, either by the clerk or the consul/registrar who signed the copy.

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Hamdani collection

This collection is a household archive of the Hamdanis, a notable family from Srinagar.

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Kapad Dwara Documents

The documents in this collection are records held by the Jaipur royal family. A catalogue of these documents was written by Gopalnarayan Bahura and Chandramani Singh, and the transcriptions and translations included on this website are based on images published in that catalogue.

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Liverpool Farman

This is a lone document housed in the Liverpool museum, encased in a cardboard tube. There are no further accession details are currently available.

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Richard Eaton collection

This is the research collection of Prof. Richard Eaton, eminent historian of Mughal India and Persianate South Asia more broadly. These documents were photographed by Prof. Eaton from several district record rooms in Bangladesh in the 1980s. These documents formed the basis of his pathbreaking book, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier. Prof. Eaton has kindly shared a copy of these documents – around 600 in number with the Lawforms project – a very small sample is presented here.

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