Unconventional Subjects: A very British approach to dealing with extraordinary people considered through a portrait of the Begum Samru, by Jiwan Ram, and The History of Zeb-ul-Nissa the Begum Samru of Sardhana, a poem by Lalla Gokul Chand by Amy Marshall
In the early nineteenth century the British were consolidating their position in India and control of the country was expanding. Their expectations of their Indian subjects, and particularly Indian women, were well-formed. There were however few protocols for dealing with those who did not fit the norm. This article considers a specific example of an unconventional subject: the Begum Samru, a female ruler of a large part of North India, explored through a portrait of her which mixes Western and Eastern elements; and a poem about her life constructed on her behalf as a piece of personal propaganda.