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A moulvi and his pupils studying Arabic, Agra

A moulvi and his pupils studying Arabic, Agra

Photographer: Kempson, Simon Matthew Edwin

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1871

Shelfmark: Photo 1000/46(4697)

Item number: 4697

Length: 15.3

Width: 20.3

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of a moulvi and his pupils studying Arabic at Agra in Uttar Pradesh from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections: India Office Series (Volume 46), taken in 1871 by Simon Matthew Edwin Kempson. The term moulvi denotes a teacher of languages. This view shows a group seated in a semi-circle on carpets in front of an open pavilion, possibly in the Fort, their books resting on bookstands in front of them. The mount is signed by Kempson who was Director of Public Instruction for the North-Western Provinces, and it is assumed that he was the photographer, rather than merely the donor. The Imperial Gazetteer of India states, "In former times the higher education of Muhammadans was in the hands of men of learning who devoted themselves to the instruction of youth. Schools were attached to mosques and shrines, and supported by state grants in cash or land, or by private liberality. Individual instructors of merit were also aided by the state, and landowners and nobles vied with each other in supporting scholars of repute. Several towns in India, such as Gopamau and Khairabad in Oudh, and Jaunpur in the Province of Agra, have from time to time been famous seats of learning, to which students flocked from all parts of India, and even from Afghanistan and Bokhara, to attend the lectures of renowned specialists. The course of study in a Muhammadan place of learning included grammar, rhetoric, logic, theology, metaphysics, literature, jurisprudence, and science. The classes of the learned instructors have been replaced by madrasas or colleges of a more modern type founded by the liberality of pious persons."

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