This essay explores some of the ways in which gender identity and norms for manhood were important in the political and religious discourses of Mughal north India. A concern with the meanings of manhood ran through these discourses and their antecedents in the wider world of medieval Perso-Islamic political culture, constructing important and enduring links between kingship, norms for statecraft, imperial service and ideal manhood. The essay examines in detail the ways in which one high imperial servant in the early seventeenth century inherited, developed and reflected on these themes, and related them to his own personal experience. These definitions of elite manliness began to change in the later seventeenth century, and their connection with imperial service began to fracture, with the emergence of more complexly stratified urban societies in north India, and the development of an increasingly ebullient and cosmopolitan ethos of gentlemanly connoisseurship and consumption. The essay examines some of the normative literature associated with these shifts, and suggests that one of their consequences may have been to intensify the strains in Mughal service morale associated with the last decades of the seventeenth century.
Cultivation of the bodily skills required in cavalry warfare was a prominent theme in India's pre-colonial societies. Demand for these expertises enabled fighting specialists to develop an India-wide network of patronage and employment. Wrestling and its associated exercises became the indispensable accompaniment to military preparation in the early modern period. Appreciation of the wide social diffusion of these expertises also allows for a better understanding of colonial demilitarization, the displacement of important cultures of the body, as well as the loss of mobility and honorable employment. La formation aux arts de la guerre montée fut une caractéristique dominante important dans les sociétés précoloniales de l'Inde. Grâce à la demande de ces techniques de combat leurs spécialistes surent se créer un réseau de patronage et d'emploi à travers l'Inde. Pendant la période prémoderne les préparatifs de guerre exigèrent toujours l'apprentissage de la lutte à mains nues et des arts de combat associés. En se rendant compte de l'ampleur de la diffusion des ces arts martiaux à travers la société on comprend mieux que la démilitarisation coloniale emmena la déchéance des arts martiaux, ainsi que la perte de mobilité des lutteurs et la possibilité de trouver un emploi honorable.