Mah Laqa Bai Chanda (1768-1824)
Art by Henrico Leorne (tumblr)
Mah Laqa Bai was a tawaif (courtesan) and a trusted adviser to the Nizam of Hyderabad.  She was appointed to the omarah (highest nobility) and  frequently consulted with the local rulers on government matters.
Tawaifs were accomplished artists and Mah Laqa Bai is best known as the first significant female poet to write in Urdu.  In 1799, she gave a manuscript entitled Diwan e Chanda to a British captain.  Today this manuscript is housed in the British Museum.  Gulzar-e-Mahlaqa (Mahlaqa’s flowers), a book of 39 Ghazals, was published soon after her death.
A patron of the arts, Mah Laqa Bai endowed several shrines during her lifetime.  After her death, her wealth was distributed to homeless women.  Mah Laqa Bai’s tomb in Hyderabad was restored in 2011. 

Mah Laqa Bai Chanda (1768-1824)

Art by Henrico Leorne (tumblr)

Mah Laqa Bai was a tawaif (courtesan) and a trusted adviser to the Nizam of Hyderabad.  She was appointed to the omarah (highest nobility) and  frequently consulted with the local rulers on government matters.

Tawaifs were accomplished artists and Mah Laqa Bai is best known as the first significant female poet to write in Urdu.  In 1799, she gave a manuscript entitled Diwan e Chanda to a British captain.  Today this manuscript is housed in the British Museum.  Gulzar-e-Mahlaqa (Mahlaqa’s flowers), a book of 39 Ghazals, was published soon after her death.

A patron of the arts, Mah Laqa Bai endowed several shrines during her lifetime.  After her death, her wealth was distributed to homeless women.  Mah Laqa Bai’s tomb in Hyderabad was restored in 2011