Chapter

Genre and Devotion in Punjabi Popular Narratives

Farina Mir

in Punjab Reconsidered

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780198078012
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080984 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198078012.003.0040
Genre and Devotion in Punjabi Popular Narratives

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This chapter examines a genre of Punjabi popular narratives — qisse, or epic-romances — as historical sources that contribute to our understanding of aesthetic and religious culture in colonial Punjab. It argues that qisse in the Punjab drew heavily on both Perso-Islamic and local aesthetic principles, to became foundation to a regional literary culture. The latter portion of the chapter examines the content of a number of colonial-era qisse, examining how they depict the proper performance of piety. The author argues that Punjabi qisse present a vision of late nineteenth-century sociality and piety in which religious community — Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian — was not of paramount importance. The chapter uses the analysis of Punjab’s aesthetic and religious culture as presented in Punjabi qisse as an opportunity to interrogate the usefulness of syncretism as an analytic, suggesting that it obscures more than it elucidates Punjab’s colonial history.

Keywords: Punjab; Punjabi literature; qisse; epic-romances; genre; piety; aesthetics; syncretism

Chapter.  14407 words.  Illustrated.

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