Learning How to Print in Colonial North India: The Nizami Press in Budaun and the First Urdu Manual on the Art of Lithography

In: Philological Encounters
Gianni Sievers Department of South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

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This article centers on an Urdu-language manual on lithography, published in 1924 by the Nizami Press in Budaun (United Provinces), to explore how a Muslim printer-publisher in a North Indian qaṣbah tried to reform educational methods in his trade. It introduces the Nizami Press (est. 1905) and compares the manual with similar European and Indian instructional handbooks. How did Indian printers and publishers learn their craft? What were the tools and materials used for lithographic printing in colonial India? And given the popularity of lithography, why were such manuals rarely published in Indian languages? By examining the material and technical aspects of the lithographic printing process explained in the Urdu manual, this article engages with larger scholarly debates revolving around knowledge production, pedagogy, and technological developments in South Asia. Furthermore, it analyzes the manual’s language to demonstrate how printers and publishers were engaged in discourses about nationalism, modernization, and social reform.

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