Khanam, Meherbanu

Khanam, Meherbanu (1885-1925) artist and patron of education and culture, was born at ahsan manzil in the nawab family of dhaka. Her father was Nawab khwaja ahsanullah and her brother was Nawab khwaja salimullah. According to the tradition of the Nawab family, Meherbanu was educated at home. She was a self-taught artist. She was married to Khwaja Mohammad Azam in 1902.

In 1920, Meherbanu sent two of her paintings to the monthly moslem bharat in Kolkata. kazi nazrul islam was inspired by one of the paintings and wrote the poem 'Kheyaparer Tarani' on it. Nazrul's poem and Meherbanu's painting were published in the Shravan 1327 BS (July-August 1920) issue of the journal. This was the first painting to be published by a Bengali Muslim woman.

To promote women's education, Meherbanu, in association with her two sisters Paribanu and Akhtarbanu, established Kamrunnessa Girls' High School in Dhaka, naming it after their mother. She also patronised the monthly Urdu literary magazine Jadu. Meherbanu died in Dhaka on 3 October 1925. [Anupam Hayat]