Zīb al-Nisāʾ Bigam “Maḫfī” d. 1114/1702-3

Zīb al-Nisāʾ Bigam, who supposedly wrote poetry under the penname “Maḫfī,” was the daughter of Mughal ruler Awrangzīb (see author 30). She was bestowed with a very good education by her father and was said to have memorized the Quran at an early age. She mastered both the Arabic and Persian languages and demonstrated exceptional skill in calligraphic writing. Additionally, she served as a benevolent patron to various men of letters. In 1092/1681, she was imprisoned after having been complicit in her brother Akbar’s unsuccessful rebellion against their father Awrangzīb. She spent the rest of her years in prison and died ca. 1114/1702-3.

A divān of poetry written under the penname “Maḫfī” has been attributed to Zīb al-Nisāʾ Bigam, however, many have challenged the authenticity of this claim. “A collection of verse published in her name under the title Divān-i Maḫfī has been subjected to critical scrutiny, and is regarded as the work of someone other than Zīb al-Nisāʾ”. Nonetheless, for all the doubt that exists, there is still not yet a definitive verdict as to whether the divān in question is hers or not.


Divān-i Maḫfī     Collection of Short Poetry by Maḫfī