The women of Shah Abdul Latif's poetry are known as the Seven Queens, heroines of Sindhi folklore who have been given the status of royalty in Shah Jo Risalo. The Seven Queens were celebrated throughout Sindh for their positive qualities: their honesty, integrity, piety and loyalty. They were also valued for their bravery and their willingness to risk their lives in the name of love. The Seven Queens mentioned in Shah Jo Risalo are Marvi, Momal, Sassi, Noori, Sohni, Sorath, and Lila.
Perhaps what Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai saw in his tales of these women was an idealised view of womanhood, but the truth remains that the Seven Queens inspired women all over Sindh to have the courage to choose love and freedom over tyranny and oppression. The lines from the Risalo describing their trials are sung at Sufi shrines all over Sindh, and especially at the urs of Shah Abdul Latif every year at Bhit Shah.
About Shah Abdul Latif
- The "Shakspeare" of Sindhi
Shah Abdul Latif, commonly known as 'Shah' or 'Latif' was a mystic or Sufi poet of Sindh. He lived in Sindh in the seventeenth century and is considered by far the greatest poet of Sindhi language. Shah was a very strong yet subtle proponent of the Sindhi Sufi tradition. His mausoleum is located in Bhit Shah, Sindh, and is visited by millions of Sindhis throughout the year.
Sindhi folk tales form vital patterns on the fabric of Sindhi culture. They are far deep rooted than is normally recognized. They are embedded in the Sindhi psyche and forms a part of the value structure of the masses. These stories in fact have become a part of Sindhi ethos. The classical Sindhi poetry cannot be understood without the knowledge of these folk tales as it is replete with frequent allusions to them. When I found the Book of Mr. Pritam Varyani which told the stories in a short and lucid form without losing the charm of the original, I was tempted to translate the same. I am hopeful that this book of translation into English will be of use to those who due to Sindhi Diaspora across the globe have not been able to learn their language and are trying to find their roots. After all we owe them the responsibility of building a bridge whereby we would be able to reclaim them. This is my humble endeavor in that direction. I am grateful to Indian institution of Sindhology which has undertaken the task of publishing this translation as original Sindhi version was also published by them.
I shall be failing in my duty if I did not acknowledge the assistance of my daughter, Shilpi who in spite of her busy schedule took out time to improve on my manuscript.