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Download Table of Contents (26 KB)

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Download Chapter 1: A Historian’s Introduction to Reading Mangal-kabya* (182 KB)

Download Chapter 2: Kings and Commerce on an Agrarian Frontier Kalketu's Story in Mukunda's Candimangal (204 KB)

Download Chapter 3: Marriage, Honor, Agency, and Trials by Ordeal Women's Gender Roles in Candimangal (214 KB)

Download Chapter 4: 'Tribute Exchange’ and the Liminality of Foreign Merchants in Mukunda's Candimangal (236 KB)

Download Chapter 5: ‘Voluntary’ Relationships and Royal Gifts of Pan in Mughal Bengal (205 KB)

Download Chapter 6: Maharaja Krsnacandra, Hinduism, and Kingship in the Contact Zone of Bengal (228 KB)

Download Photo - Left to right: the Rājarājeśvara Temple, 1754; the Mahārājnῑśvara Temple, 1762; and the Rāmā-Sitā-Lakṣmaṇa Temple, 1762, at Śib’nibās (20.1 MB)

Download Photo - The Rājarājeśvara Temple, 1754. (20.1 MB)

Download Photo - The Rāmā-Sitā-Lakṣmaṇa Temple, 1762, at Śib’nibās (20.1 MB)

Download Photo - Temple detail (20.0 MB)

Download Chapter 7: Lost Meanings and New Stories Candimangal after Britsh Dominance (215 KB)

Download Index (726 KB)

Publication Date



Chronicle Books, an imprint of DC Publishers


New Delhi


Poetry and History: Bengali Maṅgal-kābya and Social Change in Precolonial Bengal analyzes Bengali maṅgal-kābya, a genre of narrative literature. The first essay argues that the didactic purposes of maṅgal-kābya and the performative pleasures based upon satire make them rich sources for historians of precolonial Bengal.

Three essays focus on Caṇḍimaṅgal texts, especially the version by Mukunda Cakrabartῑ, probably written before 1600 AD. They argue that Mukunda uses a ‘scale of transactions’ to describe normative roles for merchants in trade, for women in several status grades, and for warriors and kings who would seek to establish more pacific polities.

Three later essays employ more usual sources for writing social history in order to relate maṅgal-kābya texts to their historical contexts. A study of the gesture of ‘taking up’ pān suggest changing meanings, give the more centralized and bureaucratic claims to authority of the Mughal state. A study of the artistic patronage of Rājā Kṛṣṇacandra of Nadῑyā discovers a novel claim to kingship in Bhārat’candra’s Annadāmaṅgal, and in contemporary temples and temple inscriptions sponsored by the rājā. The final essay suggests that during the initial period of British rule, Lāla Jaẏínārāyaṇ Sen used new stories and new kinds of stories in composing maṅgal-kābya, in order to explore the kinds of agency required by the chaos of distinctly ‘modern’ times.

David Curley is Associate Professor in the Department of Liberal Studies at Western Washington University, where he has taught since 1991. He was educated at the University of Chicago where he received his B.A. in General Studies in the Humanities. After a period in the U.S. Army, he joined the History Department to complete his studies, and was awarded a Ph.D. for his work on ‘Rulers and Merchants in 18th Century Bengal.’

The influence of Bernard S. Cohn and Edward C. Dimock, Jr. extended and deepened his interdisciplinary interests. A desire to find alternatives to European sources for writing Bengali history led to his studies of precolonial Bengali literature.

The essays collected in this volume represent Curley’s interdisciplinary work in social history and literary criticism.


Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Social change in literature; Politics in literature; Bengal (India)--In literature; Mukunda Rām Cakravartī. Caṇḍīmaṅgala



Geographic Coverage

Bengal (India)

OCLC number



Arts and Humanities | Near Eastern Languages and Societies


Bengali maṅgal-kābya, Caṇḍimaṅgal texts, Mukunda Cakrabartῑ, Bhārat’candra’s Annadāmaṅgal

Document Type


Subjects - Names (LCNAF)

Mukunda Rām Cakravartī





Poetry and History: Bengali Maṅgal-kābya and Social Change in Precolonial Bengal