History of Indian Obsession with Fair Skin

kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,532
USA
No they don't dude. Average North Indian don't have the same skin tone as Persians. Persians are even fairer then Kurds so how can they share the same skin tone as North Indians? Even Aurangzeb believed so. The only exception to this would be Kashmiris and Himachalis but they are outliers. The Iranians in the South are usually Baloch and Arab (Khuzestan and Hormozgan) so not Persian.
Indians tend to exaggerate the prevalence of light skin, because that is the color they prefer.
 
Likes: Dewal
Oct 2012
3,279
Des Moines, Iowa
I have recently been reading Manucci's work (17th century). He seems to suggest that the Persians mocked the Indians, as they considered the latter as their slaves. They mocked the Indians for their dark skin, and their customs, etc... Shah Abbas II went so far to call Aurangzeb as "Blackamoor". Aurangzeb was conscious of this "inferiority" of the Indians in terms of skin color, in comparison to the Persians. During the preparation of the war with Shah Abbas II, Aurangzeb (in anxiety) ordered the book of Khwaja Hasan Shirazi, about Islamic doctrine, to be opened. Whichever verse his eye fell on was to be treated as prophetic, and he would regulate his future actions based on that verse. His eye fell on the following verse:

"I am greatly amazed that the black man should claim equality with his master".

Aurangzeb understood the import of this verse to be that he, a king of the blacks (Indians), should not dare to wage war against the superior Persians, generally considered the masters of the Indians. Aurangzeb was pissed off, and ordered all copies of this book to be burned. So, it does seem that there was a conscious inferiority that the Mughals felt, when comparing themselves to Persians and others in Central Asia. When your own rulers see the public in this way, stereotypes will penetrate quite deeply into the psyche of the masses, and consequently, the masses would try to overcome this "inferiority", by trying to appear less dark.

The stereotype of black Indians being inferior was a common one among Central Asians. With the Central Asians invading India, these stereotypes penetrated to the inner core of the masses.
I highly suspect the accuracy of your source. Aurangzeb was not "dark-skinned," and he did not identify ethnically or culturally with ordinary Indians. Aurangzeb spoke Persian, had a Persian name, and identified with the culture of Persia. Aurangzeb was only 3/8 Indian (specifically Rajput) by ancestry; his paternal grandmother was Jagat Gosain, a Marwari princess who was the mother of Shah Jahan, and his paternal great-grandmother was Mariam-uz-Zamani (popularly referred to as "Jodhabhai"), another Rajput princess who was married to Akbar and gave birth to Jahangir. The remaining 5/8 of his ancestry was Persian and Turk. Akbar, his great-grandfather, was of mixed Persian and Turkic ancestry. His mother, Mumtaz Mahal, was descended from Persians on both sides of her family. I don't see how a man with 5/8 Turko-Persian and 3/8 Indian Rajput ancestry could appear to be a "blackamoor" to a Persian, especially considering that neither Jagat Gosain nor Mariam-uz-Zamani were representative of the average dark-skinned Indian in terms of ancestry, being elite Rajput ladies.

There are plenty of contemporary portraits of Aurangzeb, and he does not appear to be particularly "dark-skinned" in any of them. You can easily see who is a native Indian and who is a Persian, Turk, or other foreigner in Mughal-era paintings, as in this one:

 
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kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,532
USA
Most painters in India have a long history of whitewashing rulers and historic figures when portraying them. There are couple of reasons for it. Indians had believed that their rulers are lighter skinned than their subjects, when they were not. The other being the rulers (and others) liked to be whitewashed in paintings. If one doesn't believe it, look at Raja Ravi Varma's paintings. Keeping this in mind, if Aurangzeb appears very Indian in a portrait that probably is the most accurate one.

Moghul Babar was a Turk with some Persian most probably. There are Turks who could be dark, but not as dark as Indians. That is true even in Mongolia. I was surprised to see my tour guide (Buddhist) in Mongolia had a strong Indian vibe. When the Turks of Babar type get mixed with Indians and to a lesser degree with East Persians, I bet they would look like the Aurangzeb shown in this picture, that is mostly Indian.

 

Aatreya

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
3,413
USA
Aatreya, I am saying that the obsession with fair skin is a recent one, with Central Asians (with their light skin superiority complex) invading India and imposing their ideas on Indians. If we go back 1000s of years, we can see that dark skin was not looked down upon. Both Rama and Krishna were praised for their dark skin tone.
Raghavendra, sorry for misunderstanding what you wrote.
 
May 2013
1,719
The abode of the lord of the north
Obsession most likely began with commencement of 2nd Millennium, with Arab and turkish invasions.

We don't see ancient portrayals beholding whiteness as standards of beauty:



However, this doesn't mean people of light skin color didn't exist in India.



It just doesn't look like a beauty standard for me, when we compare later day portrayals where light skin tones were portreyed more abundantly.

 
Likes: Zanis
Obsession most likely began with commencement of 2nd Millennium, with Arab and turkish invasions.

We don't see ancient portrayals beholding whiteness as standards of beauty:



However, this doesn't mean people of light skin color didn't exist in India.



It just doesn't look like a beauty standard for me, when we compare later day portrayals where light skin tones were portreyed more abundantly.

The preference for lighter skin in India only started in the 16th century when Mughal rule started in North India. And it does not have anything to do with Arabs. Even as late as the 12th and 14th centuries there are Indian texts which make fun of the Turkic appearance and their skin colour is described as ugly.
In the 12th century the court poet of Prithviraj Chauhan compared the skin colour of the Centrals Asian Turks with a disease.
And the princess of the Vijayanagar Empire made fun of the skin colour of the Central Asian women in her text called Madhuraivijayam in the 14th century.
 
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Likes: Zanis
Feb 2019
62
Ariaca
Most painters in India have a long history of whitewashing rulers and historic figures when portraying them. There are couple of reasons for it. Indians had believed that their rulers are lighter skinned than their subjects, when they were not. The other being the rulers (and others) liked to be whitewashed in paintings. If one doesn't believe it, look at Raja Ravi Varma's paintings. Keeping this in mind, if Aurangzeb appears very Indian in a portrait that probably is the most accurate one.

Moghul Babar was a Turk with some Persian most probably. There are Turks who could be dark, but not as dark as Indians. That is true even in Mongolia. I was surprised to see my tour guide (Buddhist) in Mongolia had a strong Indian vibe. When the Turks of Babar type get mixed with Indians and to a lesser degree with East Persians, I bet they would look like the Aurangzeb shown in this picture, that is mostly Indian.

Mongols with Indian vibe ? Are you serious ?
 
Feb 2019
62
Ariaca
Obsession most likely began with commencement of 2nd Millennium, with Arab and turkish invasions.

We don't see ancient portrayals beholding whiteness as standards of beauty:



However, this doesn't mean people of light skin color didn't exist in India.



It just doesn't look like a beauty standard for me, when we compare later day portrayals where light skin tones were portreyed more abundantly.

Those paintings are from Maharashtra and southern india if I am not wrong.
 
Apr 2017
650
Lemuria
As a child both extremely dark skinned and extremely pale skinned people would send me crying into the arm of my father. They seemed unnatural to me and out of place. Now that I'm older, I can appreciate those exotic look. I'm pretty much copper red skinned myself, literally.
 
Likes: Zanis

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