The First Firangis

The First Firangis

The First Firangis chronicles the lives of fascinating yet little-known foreigners from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries who decided to become Indian.The Indian subcontinent has been a land of immigrants for thousands of years: waves of migration from Persia, Central Asia, Mongolia, the Middle East and Greece have helped create India’s exceptionally diverse cultural mix. In the centuries before the British Raj, when the Mughals were the preeminent power in the subcontinent, a wide array of migrants known as ‘firangis’ made India their home. In this book, Jonathan Gil Harris, a twenty-first-century firangi, tells their stories. These gripping accounts are of healers, soldiers, artists, ascetics, thieves, pirates and courtesans who were not powerful or privileged. Often they were escaping poverty or religious persecution; many were brought here as slaves; others simply followed their spirit of adventure. Some of these migrants were absorbed into the military. Others fell in with religious communities—the Catholics of Rachol, the underground Jews of Goa, the fakirs of Ajmer, the Sufis of Delhi. Healers from Portugal and Italy adapted their medical practice in accordance with local traditions. Gifted artisans from Europe joined Akbar’s and Jahangir’s royal ateliers, and helped create enduring works of art. And though almost invisible within the archival record, some migrant women such as the Armenian Bibi Juliana and the Portuguese Juliana Dias da Costa found a home in royal Mughal harems. Jonathan Gil Harris uses his own experience of becoming Indian through the process of acclimatizing to the country’s culture, customs, weather, food, clothes and customs to bring the stories of these shadowy figures to vivid life.

Title:The First Firangis
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    The First Firangis Reviews

  • Kartik

    Long before Europeans emerged as the de facto rulers of the Indian subcontinent, a position wrested from the local populace through sheer force and guile, the average European, or firangi, was just a ...

  • Meha

    Fascinating stories of the early foreigners (mostly Europeans, some African and east asians) who came to India and became 'indian'. And how they affected Indian history. Though foreigners have come in...

  • Divya Pal Singh

    Convoluted verbiage. Extrapolation based on fragmentary evidence....

  • Preeti De Sarkar

    DNF this book. Will try again in future!...

  • Ajitabh Pandey

    Remarkable historical researchAn very well researched account of immigrants to India in the pre-british era. Never realised the so many people made India their home and were well integrated, adopting ...

  • Sahil Pradhan

    “India has always been firangi, and firangis have always been Indian."Giambattista Vico, a Neapolitan philosopher from the late seventeenth century, suggested that it was ‘from Jove that the m...

  • Sakshi Nanda

    So, what exactly happened when Jonathan Gil Harris, himself a descendent from a long list of migrants and now living and working in New Delhi, ‘traced the outlines of rather different modes of conta...

  • Jairam Mohan

    A truly lovely read about some of the earliest foreigners who came to India and made this country their own by adopting its customs and at times adapting themselves as well to their radically differen...

  • Mahesh Andar

    Awesome..!! Well researched and well written. ...

  • Atul Sabnis

    I encountered this book, when I was researching material for my post Of Foreigners & Their Blades; it all started because of the word: firangi.The First Firangis by Jonathan Gil Harris is a collection...