Awesome and Rare Collection of Ismaili Ginans with Music at the British Library

1935-1955: Truly Inspiring Recordings of Ab Teri Mohabat, Marna Hai re Jarur, Ho Jire mara Hansa, Satgur miliya mune aaj and Bhajan

(Material compiled from the British Library, Endangered Archives Project)

A Young India gramaphone record. Photo: The British Library,

Simerg has come across an extremely rare collection of ginans that were recorded on 78-rpm shellac gramophone records in Mumbai, India between 1935-1955. The ginans accompanied by music are part of a huge collection of almost 1427 original film, music, classical music, folk music, publicity and educational material that have so far been digitized by the  British Library in London, England as part of their Endangered Archives project. A 24 month grant of £21,300 (sterling pounds) for this project was awarded to an independent researcher, Dr. Suresh Chandvankar, in 2008.

During 1930-55, the British and German record manufacturing companies were well established and had a major share of disc manufacturing in India. The ‘Young India’ record label was an ‘indigenous’ effort at record production by ‘The National Gramophone Record Manufacturing Company Ltd. Bombay’ and during the twenty year period produced 10,000 titles on hundreds of 78-rpm shellac gramophone records in Mumbai. Mainly amateur and upcoming artists were recorded under the ‘Young India’ label. The company ceased to function in 1955 so these recordings were never reissued on audio tapes and CDs. Hence, the British Library felt it important and relevant to preserve these invaluable recordings and the associated documents.

Clockwise from top left: A Young India disk; Young India sign; a collector; and a collection of Young India record. Photos: British Library, Endangered Archives.

The repertoire covered music from different regions of India and sung in many different languages. During the long tenure of over twenty years, Indian citizens witnessed several important events such as the movement and struggle for freedom, Indian Independence in 1947, World War II and the beginning of the romantic period of independent India. This was also reflected in the records produced. Thus, there are speeches of great leaders, ballads, skits and dialogues on a number of subjects depicting changing social and political situations.

In late 1948, the ‘National Gramophone Record’ factory at Wadala was experiencing both technical and financial problems which severely curtailed its production capacity. The situation worsened slowly and by late 1955, the factory had closed down with stocks left over at the factory sold off at greatly reduced prices to a number of agencies. With time, the records and catalogues were either destroyed or scrapped. Slowly, all the material related to this company began to disappear.

It is estimated that over 1,000 records are available in the private collections of record collectors, located in Mumbai, Ahmadabad, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata, and are only available on 78-rpm breakable shellac discs. In addition, over 100 catalogues, booklets and record sleeves are held by private collectors and it is possible to collect or borrow them for this project. These have never been sold commercially, with the result that very few copies have survived to the present.

Through the British Library project endangered archival material pertaining to ‘Young India’ record label will be restored, digitised and thus preserved for posterity.

The project succeeded in locating and digitising over 725 discs (1450 songs) of the ‘Young India’ record label. A large number of catalogues and advertising material was located at many places and more than 1,000 digital images have been taken of documents and disc labels. This will form a very valuable reference source for researchers in the future.

Here are the links to the recitation of Ginans performed by numerous individuals including Master Jumma, Rama, Kumari, and Rahemali.

(Note: Once you are on the British Library page when you have clicked on a Ginan link below, remain on that page and click under Related Items to listen to other Ginans – you need not use the back arrow to return to this page for links to other recordings).

Two recordings of Ab Teri Mohabat

Two recordings of Marna Hai re Jarur 

Two recordings of Ho Jire mara Hansa 

Recording of Satgur miliya mune aaj

Recording of Bhajan, Aavo Sultan Raj (possibly of Ismaili origin) 

Date posted: Sunday, September 24, 2017, 03:45 am

Last updated: September 24, 2017, 03:51 am) – Correction: In the first version of this post it was incorrectly mentioned on the title and elsewhere in the article that the archives are at the British Museum. The Endangered Archives Project is an initiative of the British Library and not the British Museum. We apologize for this oversight.

________________

We welcome your feedback. Please click Leave a comment. Do you have any information about Master Jumma, Rama, Kumari, Rahemali, and others who were involved in the singing of the ginans? Let us know! If you encounter any technical issues in submitting your comment, please send your feedback to Simerg@aol.com, Subject: Ginan archives.

One thought on “Awesome and Rare Collection of Ismaili Ginans with Music at the British Library

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s