Thursday, 20 August 2009

Princess Niloufer



Princess Niloufer was the princess of Hyderabad till she died in 1989 in Paris. I have been curious and fascinated about her for a long time . I decided to start compiling all the info about her. The following is a concise summary of all the bits and bobs I could gather from over the internet and from my own friends and family . I will keep updating this as and when I receive new info about her .
This pic was taken in Paris in 1936.
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H.H. Princess Niloufer (full name: Princess Niloufer Khanum Sultana) was one of the last princesses of the Ottoman empire. She was born at the Göztepe Palace in Istanbul on January 4, 1916. She was the only daughter of Damad Moralizada Salar ud-din Bey Effendi and the first cousin of Princess Hadice Hayriye Ayshe Dürrühsehvar.
She married Prince Moazzam Jah, who was the second son of Nizam of Hyderabad, on 21 February 1931 in France. Being one of the better educated members of her family she established the Niloufer Hospital for Women and Children in Red Hills, Hyderabad, India. She died in Paris, France on June 12, 1989.
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Article from the Telegraph .
1. Hyderabad/Mumbai, Feb. 12: The royal banquet hall was full and the guest of honour, a visiting British dignitary, had arrived. Yet all eyes, desi and firangi, at Falaknuma Palace kept turning to the entrance.
Everyone was waiting for the “world’s most beautiful woman” to walk in.
The cream-coloured Austin rolled in, gleaming in the moonlight. A hush fell on the gathering as she walked up to the host with graceful steps.
With a hand resting on his daughter-in-law’s shoulders, a beaming Mir Osman Ali Khan Mahboob Pasha, Hyderabad’s seventh and last Nizam, turned to his guests and announced, “Permit me to introduce one of my naginas (jewels).”
It was seven decades ago, long before television, beauty pageants and glamour rags had begun their reign over the public imagination, yet Princess Niloufer’s exquisite looks and clothes were a talking point across the country and in the cities of Europe.
Niloufer, the “Kohinoor of Hyderabad”, wasn’t the only “jewel” in the Nizam’s household, though.
Almost equally famous for her beauty was her sister-in-law Princess Durru Shehvar ? daughter of Abdul Majid Khan, Turkey’s last Ottoman king and the last Caliph ? whose death in London on February 7, at the age of 93, brings the curtain down on a glorious chapter of early Indian chic. Niloufer died in Hyderabad about a decade ago.
“If Princess Niloufer was the nagina, Princess Durru was the heera (diamond),” says Deccan historian Rajendra Prasad in his book on Hyderabad.
The sisters-in-law ? they were first cousins by birth — had become bywords for elegance in the West over half a century ago, with both attending fashion shows in Paris and London with the Nizam’s encouragement.
1. At home, their clothes collections have inspired the attires of Bollywood leading ladies from Waheeda Rehman to Diya Mirza and served as textbooks for later designers. “Durru was very beautiful. She was very tall, a little too tall — she was taller than her husband. Niloufer was more beautiful.”
But apart from their beauty and wardrobe, most of which they later donated to fashion-design schools in Hyderabad, the princesses were known also for their philanthropy.
Niloufer, who divorced Prince Moazzam Jah and left for Turkey, donated her entire meher (dowry) so that a children’s hospital could be built in Hyderabad. Durru’s marriage to Prince Azam Jah, too, ended in divorce.
The princesses’ had been a double wedding, both getting married simultaneously in Nice, France. The Nizam declared a holiday in Hyderabad and newspapers printed special editions.
“Although the marriages didn’t bring a rich dowry (for the Caliph had already been deposed), they earned the Nizam a diplomatic alliance with the Turkish aristocracy,” a city historian said.
The Nizam encouraged both princesses to take part in sports, such as tennis and horse-riding. He sent them on tours of Europe so they could broaden their mind and also pick up works of art for his museums.
“Princess Niloufer was one of the better educated” among the Nizam’s family, said Begum Bilkis Alladin, an authority on the Nizam’s art collections, in a recent article. “She was also a good sportswoman, skilled in tennis and handball.”
The Nizam threw lavish parties where he showed off his daughters-in-law, recalled 75-year-old Nawab Mujib Ali Yavar Jung, a former official at his court. “Princess Niloufer dazzled in them and was the most sought after.”
The princesses were visible in the Bombay party circuit, too, though they apparently did not dance. In keeping with the Nizam’s status, they kept their distance, projecting an alluring mix of oriental tradition and western freedom.
As news of Durru’s death reached Hyderabad, contemporaries recalled her strength of mind and management skills.
“She was a true aristocrat who brooked no interference in the way she brought up her sons,” said Begum Bilkis Lateef, who helped Durru with her philanthropic projects.
She ran the household in her palace when the other women of the family dared not venture into the men’s domain.
Even after her divorce she lived for many years in Hyderabad, but with increasing age, shifted to London a few years ago. She last visited Hyderabad in 2004. When the end came on Tuesday, her sons Mukkaram and Muffakham Jah were at her bedside.
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On Nov 1931 Azam Jah and Moazzam Jah are married at Nice (France) to Princess Durru Shehwar, daughter of ex. Sultan Abdul Majeed Khan, Caliph of Muslims and Princess Niloufer (niece of ex. Sultan) respectively.
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TIMES milestone Nov 3 1952
Divorced. By Prince Muazzam Jah, 43, second son of the Nizam (“richest man in the world”) of Hyderabad: Princess Niloufer, 38, beauteous niece of the last Turkish Caliph, Abdul Medjid II ; for unnamed reasons when the Prince followed Moslem divorce proceedings by intoning “Talak” (divorce) three times before two witnesses; after 21 years of marriage, no children; in Hyderabad.
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Recently the New York Fashion Institute of Technology showed the 1940s saris of Princess Niloufer, an Ottoman princess who married the son of the Nizam of Hyderabad. She made the traditional sari her own by giving it a Western touch through decoration and the placement of motifs. Her saris were ornamented with sequins, beads and metallic embroidery on chiffon, crepe and net, with the floral designs falling in the front or over the left shoulder. Many of these saris were designed by a Frenchman, Fernande Cecire, and embroidered in India. This is reminiscent of the days of the British Raj, when Indian princesses traveled to Paris and had saris designed by French couturiers.
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Princess Niloufer of Hyderabad was married previously to Edward Julius Pope, an international business executive and onetime civilian adviser to American military commanders in Europe.
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Princess Nilüfer seems to have attracted quite as much admiration as her cousin. “Her violet eyes and blue-black Circassian hair were enough to ruin a man’s appetite,” remarked the British official Sir Conrad Corfield, who declared her “the loveliest creature I had ever set my eyes on”. When she accompanied the Nizam to Delhi, the Viceroy, Lord Willingdon, was equally enchanted, much to the annoyance of his wife.

4 comments:

  1. Sups
    Excellent insights. The Royal Muslims of India were not West agnostic. They walked the fine line between western education and etiquette and oriental elegance.
    Excellent work!

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  2. I am also an ardent fan of her highness Princess Niloufer. recently I browsed certain articals in google books about the Princess where in she was called as one of the most beautiful woman of the world, 5feet 9 inches tall and with a deep voice which is as pretty as her face

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  3. Good job. Please see if you can gather details about Princess Durru Shevar.

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  4. friends,I am a deep admirer of HER charity for children and women.Please give the details of those books where i can read more details about HER,the most beautiful woman in the world

    ReplyDelete