Message from madras
Among the more unusual items in the archives of Grand Lodge is a fragile letter written in Persian, attached to an illuminated English translation
In 1778, a letter was written in Madras by Ghulam Hussainy, Umdat-ul-Umra, the eldest son of the 8th Nawab of the Carnatic in southern India, to George, 4th Duke of Manchester, Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge of England (the Moderns). This followed his initiation, when Grand Lodge had presented to him, as the future Nawab, a masonic apron and finely bound Book of Constitutions.
The importance of this letter was recognised in 1836 when it was displayed at Freemasons’ Hall at the time of the initiation of Mohamed Ismail Khan, ambassador to India’s King of Oudh. But it was then deframed and so, by the early twenty-first century, the letter, written on fragile Indian paper, was in poor condition (as illustrated above left).
A specialist conservator has been able to preserve the document and the Library and Museum has commissioned photographs of it, which can be used to study the letter’s contents. In addition, a transcript has been attached to the catalogue record to enhance access to the information it contains. The conservation work was funded by the Association of Independent Museums’ Pilgrim Trust Conservation Scheme.
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