The Visual World of Muslim India The Art, Culture and Society of the Deccan in the Early Modern Era 9780755603831

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List of Illustrations

Maps Map of the Indian Subcontinent. © Pushkar Sohoni. p. ii Map of the Deccan. © Pushkar Sohoni. p. xvi

Figures 1.1

Mecca Gate, Golconda (photograph by Marika Sardar). p. 2


Golconda, plan (drawing by Kushal Kumar Kamble). p. 4


Sultannagar, mosque (photograph by Robert Alan Simpkins). p. 5


Sultannagar, plan (drawing by Kushal Kumar Kamble). p. 5


Ahmadnagar, plan (drawing by Kushal Kumar Kamble). p. 6


Nauraspur and Bijapur, plans (drawings by Kushal Kumar Kamble). p. 7


Firuzabad, plan (drawing by Kushal Kumar Kamble). p. 9


Tughluqabad, plan (drawing by Kushal Kumar Kamble). p. 11


Warangal, plan (drawing by Kushal Kumar Kamble). p. 12


A large, ruined and unidentified tomb just outside the western boundary of the state-owned land of the Qutb Shahi Tombs complex. p. 33


Entire Project Area north of Golconda Fort, with all structures identified. p. 36


Structures identified around the state-owned land for the Qutb Shahi Tombs, the royal necropolis for the dynasty of the Golconda kingdom. p. 37


Tomb of Abdullah Qutb Shah, the largest of all the tombs in the Golconda necropolis. p. 38


Tombs of Sultan-Quli, founder of the dynasty, and his grandson, Subhan. p. 39


The Visual World of Muslim India 2.6

Interior of the tomb of Sultan-Quli. p. 41


A well-preserved mosque on the south end of the complex on a large plinth. p. 42


Sheikhpet serai complex, north of Golconda Fort and the main necropolis area. p. 47


A mosque in sixteenth-century style almost totally surrounded by modern buildings in the village of Hussain [Husayn] Shah Wali (photograph by Mr. K. Ranga Reddy, Garuda Tourism). p. 48


A tomb of the sixteenth-century type incorporated into a modern building just north of the main necropolis area. p. 50


Map showing medieval Chaul with the location of its extant buildings. p. 54


Plan of the caravanserai just outside medieval Chaul. p. 59


The eastern entrance pavilion of the caravanserai with remnants of the peripheral columns in the foreground. p. 60


Plan and conjectural elevation of the mosque. p. 61


A view of the mosque from the southeast. p. 61


Wooden dowels in the carved stone voussoirs of the arches. p. 62


The large inscription on the small tomb in front of the mosque. p. 63


The smaller inscription on the tomb. p. 63


Plan of the hammam. p. 64


An interior view of the innermost room in the hammam. p. 65


A second view of the hammam. p. 66


Plan of the tomb. p. 67


A view of the tomb. p. 67


Remains of the ‘storage room.’ p. 68


The typical blue-and-white Chinese porcelain recoverable from the site in large quantities. p. 70


Vijayanagara. The Great Platform. Detail: a ruler receiving a Muslim delegation. p. 81


Vijayanagara. The Great Platform. Detail: Central Asian Turkish dancers. p. 81


Vijayanagara. Ramachandra Temple. Detail: Arab attendant leading a horse. p. 83


Vijayanagara. Columns in the Vitthala Temple: warriors riding fantastic beasts. p. 84


Vijayanagara. Vitthala Temple, column detail: turbaned Muslim warrior. p. 85


Vijayanagara. Mosque and tomb of Ahmad Khan northeast of the Royal Centre. p. 86


Muslim tombs at Kadirampura, near Vijayanagara. p. 87


Vijayanagara. Domed gateway southeast of the Royal Centre. p. 89


Vijayanagara. Elephant Stables in the Royal Centre. p. 90


Vijayanagara. Interior of the Lotus Mahal in the Royal Centre. p. 92


Google Earth view of Gulbarga Fort. p. 96


Gulbarga Fort. Great Mosque. p. 98


Gulbarga Fort. Great Mosque. View of the qibla wall from the southwestern side (photograph by Clare Arni, 2009). p. 98


list of illustrations 5.4

Gulbarga Fort. Great Mosque. Aisle leading at right angle to the qibla wall where a small niche for books or light is located (photograph by Clare Arni, 2009). p. 99


Gulbarga Fort. Great Mosque. Projecting northeastern entrance (photograph by Clare Arni, 2009). p. 101


Gulbarga Fort. Great Mosque. Southwestern peripheral vaulted bay (photograph by Clare Arni, 2009). p. 102


Gulbarga Fort. Great Mosque. Mihrab with baluster columns (photograph by Clare Arni, 2009). p. 104


Gulbarga Fort. Great Mosque. Dome supported on triconch squinches (photograph by Clare Arni, 2009). p. 108


Pineapple motif in the dome of the 1658 mosque in Afzal Khan’s tomb compound. p. 109


Vijayanagara. Elephant Stables. Dome decorated with an architectural motif. p. 110


Elichpur, ‘īdgāh (photograph by Klaus Rötzer, 2007). p. 114


Wrought-iron guns of the Deccan: a selection showing various types from different periods. p. 127


Cast-bronze guns: two from Ahmadnagar, dated mid-fifteenth century, one of the two metal guns of Alamgir I, and the last Qutb Shahi bronze gun, c. 1680. p. 128


The Malik-i Maidan, the famous bronze bombard cast in 1549 at Ahmadnagar by an Ottoman engineer. p. 129


The five Barid Shahi guns in Bidar. p. 130


The Top-i Ilahi near Mandu Darwaza, Bidar Fort, dated 1569. p. 131


The Fath Lashkar in the Purana Qila, Bidar Fort, dated 1580. p. 132


Wrought-iron gun on the Landa Qassab bastion, Bijapur, city wall, seventeenth century. p. 133


Camel-muzzled iron gun, Daulatabad, undated. p. 135


Inscription and floral ornamentation, Fath Lashkar, Bidar Fort, dated 1580. p. 136


Inscription on the Top-i Ilahi. p. 137


Unfinished ornament on the Top-i Haidari, Lal Burj, Bidar Fort, dated 1587. p. 137


Black stone panel decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay, Rangin Mahal, reign of Ali Barid (1542–80), Bidar Fort. p. 139


Cloak of Roger II, with lions trampling camels and an Arabic text on the border giving the date 528 H / 1133–34 CE (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Inv. no. SK XIII 14). p. 144


Jujhar Singh Bundela Surrendering to Shahjahan. By Bichitr, c. 1630. From the Minto Album (Dublin, The Chester Beatty Library, In. 7A.16). p. 159


A relief on the west face of the gate to the ceremonial core of the Raigarh Fortress (c. 1670s?). p. 161


Reliefs over the entrance gate to Raigarh Fortress, c. 1670. p. 162


Reliefs to the left and right of the inscription at the Sharza bastion in Bijapur. p. 163


A series of three reliefs at the Patancheru Gate of Golconda Fortress, c. 1559. p. 165


The Visual World of Muslim India 7.7

A royal figure on a horse (with an attendant holding an umbrella) spears a lion or tiger attacking an elephant, while another man stabs the feline from below. Vijayanagara, Mahanavami platform, first half of the sixteenth century (photograph by John Fritz). p. 166


Two of the reliefs at the Banjara Gate of Golconda, c. 1559. p. 167


Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah, 1590–1605, folio 3v. Watercolour, gold and ink on paper (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, ms. 153). p. 180


Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah, 1590–1605, folio 5r. Watercolour, gold and ink on paper (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, ms. 153). p. 187


Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah, 1590–1605, folio 29v. Watercolour, gold and ink on paper (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, ms. 153). p. 188


Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah, 1590–1605, folio 53v. Watercolour, gold and ink on paper (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, ms. 153). p. 188


Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah, 1590–1605, folio 29v (detail). Watercolour, gold and ink on paper (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, ms. 153). p. 190


Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah, 1590–1605, folio 12r. Watercolour, gold and ink on paper (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, ms. 153). p. 192


Khusraw listening to Barbad Playing the Flute, Khamsa of Nizami, c. 1539–43, folio 77v. Watercolour, gold and ink on paper (British Library, Or. 2265). p. 193


Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah, 1590–1605, folio 24v. Watercolour, gold and ink on paper (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, ms. 153). p. 194


Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah, 1590–1605, folio 93r. Watercolour, gold and ink on paper (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, ms. 153). p. 196


Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah, 1590–1605, folio 97v. Watercolour, gold and ink on paper (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, ms. 153). p. 197


Hans van Aachen, Venus, Cupid, and Bacchus, c. 1600 (Kunst­historisches Museum, Vienna. Inv.Nr. GG_1098). p. 207


Nauraspur. Rear of Nauras Mahal, showing nine-sided enclosure, 1599. p. 213


Two Women in an Arcade, c. 1610s–20s, Bijapur (© Victoria and Albert Museum, London. IM.14–1913 recto). p. 219


The Virgin Mary Nursing with Saints Elizabeth and Infant John the Baptist, c. 1610s–20s, Bijapur (© Victoria and Albert Museum, London. IM.14–1913 verso). p. 221


Ibrahim Adil Shah II Venerates a Sufi Saint, c. 1620s–30s, Bijapur (© The Trustees of the British Museum, London. 1997.1108.01). p. 223


Woman Seated on a Chair, c. 1590s–1610s, Bijapur (© The Trustees of the British Museum, London. 1948.109.073 verso). p. 224


Woman Pouring a Cup of Wine, c. 1590s–1610s, Bijapur (© The Trustees of the British Museum, London. 1948.10.9.086). p. 224


list of illustrations 10.1

Ibrahim Adil Shah II Presenting a Necklace to his Lover, Bijapur, c. 1610–27, folio from the Small Clive Album (© Victoria and Albert Museum, London, IS 48–1956, fol. 1b). p. 238


A Youth with Swans and Rabbits, Bijapur, c. 1600–15. Folio from the Minto Album (Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, In 07A.17). p. 240


Portrait of Bakhtar Khan Kalawant, Mughal India, c. 1614. Folio from the Salim/Jahangir Album (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Orientabteilung, Libr. pict. A117, fol. 4b) (photograph by the author, reproduced with the kind permission of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin). p. 243


Ibrahim Adil Shah II Offering Obeisance to Jahangir. By Farrukh Husayn (Farrukh Beg), Bijapur, c. 1605. Folio from the Salim/Jahangir Album (Golestan Palace Museum, Tehran, no. 1663, fol. 87). p. 247


Ibrahim Adil Shah II Playing the Tambur. By Farrukh Husayn (Farrukh Beg), Bijapur, c. 1605–9. Folio from the Salim/Jahangir Album (Náprstek Museum, Prague, A. 12182; courtesy of the National Museum – Náprstek Museum, Prague, Czech Republic). p. 248


Youth Reading in a Grove. By Muhammad Ali, Mughal India, c. 1610 (Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., F1953.93). p. 249


Detail of Ibrahim Adil Shah II Offering Obeisance to Jahangir. By Farrukh Husayn (Farrukh Beg), Bijapur, c. 1605. Folio from the Salim/Jahangir Album (Golestan Palace Museum, Tehran, no. 1663, fol. 87). p. 251


A Noble with a Petition, Mughal India, c. 1600–5. Folio from the Salim Album (Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, In 41.1). p. 253


Dervish with a Book before a Prince, Mughal India, early seventeenth century, detail of a figural border from the Salim/Jahangir Album (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Orientabteilung, Libr. pict. A117, fol. 16a) (photograph by the author, reproduced with the kind permission of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin). p. 254

10.10 Portrait of Ibrahim Adil Shah II. By Hashim, Mughal India, c. 1620 (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, p. 255 11.1

Bidri hookah base ( Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum, Hyderabad, 76.1222. ME.1) (reproduced by kind permission). p. 271


Bidri hookah base (© Victoria and Albert Museum, London, I.S. 27–1980). p. 272


Bidri hookah base (private collection, London) (reproduced by kind permission). p. 273


Bidri hookah base (Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, EA1993–14). p. 273


Two Bidri pāndāns (Top: Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, EA1993.392. Bottom: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1996.3A,B.). p. 274


Bidri tray or salver, c. 1675–1700. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 3/4 x 13". Gift of Anna Bing Arnold and the Indian Art Special Purpose Fund, M.89.19 (© 2012. Digital Image Museum Associates/LACMA/Art Resource NY/Scala, Firenze). p. 275


The Visual World of Muslim India 11.7

Portrait of Abul Ghaffar Khan Bahadur. Mughal, c. 1690 (San Diego Museum of Art, 1990:450). p. 277


Khan Alam, Ambassador of Jahangir, with Shah Abbas in a Landscape (detail). Possibly after Bishandas. Page from the Late Shahjahan Album. Mughal, c. 1650. Opaque watercolour and gold on paper (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Francis Bartlett Donation of 1912 and Picture Fund, 14.665). p. 279


Gulshan-i ‘Ishq. Colophon (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1945–65–22. Gift of Mrs. Philip S. Collins in memory of her husband, 1945–65–22). p. 298


Gesu Daraz enthroned p. 299


Raja Bikram’s alms are rebuffed. p. 300


Bikram searches for the holy man. p. 302


Bikram and the fairies. p. 303


Bikram and the fairies. Folio from a c. 1710 dispersed copy of the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq (The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, no. 95.4.2). p. 304


The fairies carry Bikram. p. 306


The fairies fly down to Manohar’s palace. p. 307


Manohar is distraught without Madhumalati. p. 308

12.10 Manohar encounters sea-monsters. p. 309 12.11 Manohar meets a dervish. p. 310 12.12 Manohar and Champavati in a barren garden. p. 312 12.13 Manohar and Madhumalati on their wedding night. p. 314 13.1

The grave of Sultan-Quli, founder of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, Hyderabad (photograph by Robert Alan Simpkins). p. 321


Dargāh of Yusuf Sharif Baba, Hyderabad (photograph by Robert Alan Simpkins). p. 322


Dargāh of Shah Raju, Hyderabad (photograph by Robert Alan Simpkins). p. 323


Azakhana-i Zahra (photograph © Arjun Mangaldas, 1986. Courtesy of the MIT Libraries, Aga Khan Visual Archive). p. 325


Moula Ali Hill, Hyderabad (photograph by Robert Alan Simpkins). p. 326


Badshahi Ashurkhana (photograph © Arjun Mangaldas 1986. Courtesy of the MIT Libraries, Aga Khan Visual Archive). p. 327


Dargāh of Khwaja Hussain Shah Wali, Hyderabad (photograph by Robert Alan Simpkins). p. 331


List of Contributors Navina Najat Haidar has been a curator in the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art since 1999, and has been deeply involved in the planning of the Museum’s new Islamic galleries. She is presently working towards an exhibition on the art of the Deccan and recently co-edited (with Marika Sardar) Sultans of the South, a volume of symposium papers on the subject. She has published and lectured widely on the Met’s collection, Indian painting and Mughal art. Deborah Hutton is Associate Professor at The College of New Jersey. Her scholarship examines the relationships between art, Indo-Islamicate identity and intercultural exchange at the Deccan princely courts in the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. She is the author of The Art of the Court of Bijapur (Indiana UP, 2006) and co-author of Raja Deen Dayal: Artist-Photograph in 19th-century India (Mapin, 2013). She also is co-editor of Asian Art: An Anthology (Blackwell, 2006) and the Blackwell Companion to Asian Art (2011). Omar Khalidi (d. 2010) was for almost two decades a research librarian with the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His writings encompassed minority rights, history, architecture, economics, demography, politics, Urdu education, military history, library science and nationalism. Gijs Kruijtzer is a historian of the early modern period. His publications include a monograph about the experience of identity in India as well as articles on depictions of Dutchmen by Deccani painters. He is currently investigating the tension between individual lives and a number of religious laws in a comparison between the Persianate and Latinate regions of the globe. George Michell trained as an architect and then studied Indian Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He has conducted various field projects in India, the most extensive being the survey of the ruins of Hampi Vijayanagara. Among his numerous publications is Architecture and Art of the Deccan Sultans, co-authored with Mark Zebrowski, in the New Cambridge History of India series.


The Visual World of Muslim India Keelan Overton (Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles) has held curatorial positions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and currently works as an adjunct lecturer and independent curator in Portland, Oregon. Her research focuses on the eastern Islamic world, including medieval and early modern ceramics and book arts and later histories of collecting, canon formation and architectural revivalism. Helen Philon (Ph.D. School of Oriental and African Studies, London) is an independent scholar and formerly the Curator of the Islamic Department of the Benaki Museum in Athens, Greece. She has published several essays on Deccani architecture and most recently edited the volume Silent Splendour: Palaces of the Deccan 14th–19th centuries (Mumbai, 2010, with photographs by Clare Arni). Klaus Rötzer is an independent researcher specializing in Deccani medieval architecture, mainly fortifications and waterworks. The building techniques and the purpose and use of each building are his main field of interest. From his viewpoint maps and plans are as important as photographs and text. He has spent ten years in Afghanistan and 30 years in India surveying ancient ruins. Marika Sardar is Senior Research Associate in the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is currently working on an exhibition of Deccani art and a guidebook to Golconda and Hyderabad. Robert Simpkins (Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison) is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Porterville College. His research interests focus on the relationship between architecture, road networks and socio-political organization, as well as cultural heritage management. Simpkins has research and field experience in Old World and New World archaeology, in the historic and prehistoric periods. Pushkar Sohoni (Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania) is currently the South Asia Librarian at the University of Pennsylvania. Having trained as a professional architect in India, he worked on several conservation projects after receiving a graduate degree in Historic Preservation. Pushkar’s broader interests include archaeology, history and numismatics. Rebecca Tucker is an Associate Professor at Colorado College. Her field of specialization is northern European art in the early modern period. Her research concerns questions of patronage, collecting and display in seventeenth-century Dutch art and architecture, as well as issues of trade, cultural transmission and artistic exchange between Europe, India and the New World. She is co-author of Discovering Leonardo (Universe, 2011). Laura Weinstein (Ph.D. Columbia University, New York) is Ananda Coomaraswamy Curator of South Asian and Islamic art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 2010 she curated the exhibition Romantic Interludes: Women in Firdawsi’s Shahnama and in 2011 she led the reinstallation of the MFA’s South and Southeast Asian collections. Weinstein is currently working on a touring exhibition of the highlights of the MFA’s Islamic art collection and an accompanying catalogue.


For Mark Zebrowski, who could not join us on this journey. For Simon Digby and Omar Khalidi, who left us along the way.

sarebbe il peggio / per l’omo in terra, se non fosse cive it would be worse / for man on earth, were he not civilized (Dante, Par., viii)



Daulatabad --~

_________,/ -..,




Paithan Godavari



• Parend~ • Raigad



• us~ 0





r~, • Warangal / Hanumako da

Bidar """'



Golconda ~hongir • •Hyderaba • lbrahimpatn m

Nauraspur.. Bijapur

• Koyilkonda




.Adoni Tungabhadra


Map of the Deccan



t is a most pleasant task to introduce the present volume of essays. The Visual World of Muslim India: The Art, Culture and Society of the Deccan in the Early Modern Era adds to the steadily growing literature on the history of the premodern Deccan, a field that until recently has received scant scholarly attention in South Asian studies owing to the long shadow cast by the many works on medieval North India, in particular the Mughal Empire. This volume attests to the reality that the study of the Deccan – a region with a unique topography, history and culture – has come into its own as a distinct subfield in South Asian studies. It is especially exciting to see that this volume showcases work by a new cadre of young scholars trained in a wide range of disciplines and possessing the appropriate linguistic expertise. Some of them bring fresh perspectives to old themes; others open up altogether new themes. The volume’s essays are grouped into four broad categories of visual evidence pertaining to the medieval Deccan. The first group examines cities – the origin of circular perimeters as a type of urban morphology; the visual landscape of Golconda and its hinterland under the Qutb Shahi sultans; and a survey of medieval Chaul, on the coast of the Arabian Sea, that challenges conventional understandings of ‘the city’ itself. The second group of essays probes the ways that visual data can reveal the construction of cultural identities – that sculptural decorations at Vijayanagara might suggest successive waves of immigrant ethnic groups in that great metropolis; that an analysis of the ‘Great Mosque’ in Gulbarga Fort can reveal that structure’s original function; that cultural meanings unique to the Deccan plateau are reflected in the design of local cannons; and that the public depictions of fighting animals may be understood to symbolize the different ways that peoples imagined themselves vis-à-vis their enemies. xvii

The Visual World of Muslim India

The third group of essays explores various relationships between painting and courtly activities or policies – linguistic and artistic innovation in a work authored by Sultan Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah of Golconda; the several roles of a European artist resident at the Bijapur court; and the ways that royal portraiture reflected strained political relations between the Adil Shahi court of Bijapur and its mighty nemesis to the north, the imperial Mughals. The essays in the final group discuss how visual evidence can also document the Deccan’s varied connections to the world beyond the plateau – outside influences on the production of the Deccan’s famous metalware known as Bidri; the circulation of devotional stories and their preservation in a lushly illustrated Sufi romance; and the ways that Deccani Muslim religious rituals connect with the greater world of Islam. All in all, the editor and her contributors are to be congratulated for producing a volume that greatly expands our understanding of a wide range of visual evidence in the premodern Deccan. Above all, we repeatedly see in this volume a welcomed effort to connect art history with history, two disciplines that for too long have suffered from mutual isolation in academic circles. This volume goes far in reconnecting two fields that should never have been academically isolated in the first place. Richard M. Eaton University of Arizona




his volume was funded through a generous grant from Alessandro Bruschettini, with a contribution from the Barakat Trust. It features a selection of the papers first presented at an international conference on Art, Patronage and Society in the Muslim Deccan from the Fourteenth Century to the Present Day. The conference, hosted on 4–6 July 2008 at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, was organized with the support of the John Fell Fund and the Barakat Trust and a contribution from the University of Oxford’s Sub-Faculty of South and Inner Asian Studies. Many people contributed to this project. James W. Allan deserves special credit for his enthusiastic support of the conference, his assistance in the fundraising phase and the effort he profused into co-convening the event. I am also indebted to Rosalind O’Hanlon for securing the support of the Sub-Faculty; Lindsay Rudge, Andrew Fairweather-Tall and Kary Kelly for their assistance with funding-related paperwork; Chris Williams and David Griffiths for seeing to so many practical and logistical aspects; Alessandra Cereda and Ainsley Cameron for their indefatigable, efficient work before and during the conference; and Jeremy Johns for his constant support from behind the scenes. I am almost sure I forgot someone, but I hope they will be forgiving. This project is also indebted to all the conference participants, including those whose contribution could not be included in this volume: credit goes in particular to John Carswell, Stephen Cohen, Yolande Crowe, Robert Skelton and the late Simon Digby. I also wish to thank Aylin Orbasli for accepting the challenge of having the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University collaborate on a memorable round table on the conservation of the architectural heritage in the fast-growing urban environment of India. One only wishes there had been a proper follow-up to that effort. xix

The Visual World of Muslim India

This volume issues from a network of scholars working on Deccani art, archaeology, anthropology and history, many of whom first convened in Hyderabad in January 2007 for an international conference on Deccani gardens. Although they were not directly involved in this project, I feel we are all indebted to Daud Ali and Emma J. Flatt for convening that conference, which injected Deccani studies with so much enthusiasm and so many great ideas. Robert Alan Simpkins must be credited for maintaining some of the ties between us through the Deccan Research Network and for suggesting additional contributors to the Oxford conference. Simpkins, as well as Crispin Branfoot, Richard Eaton, Sunil Sharma, Susan Stronge and Wheeler M. Thackston have contributed many further ideas and advice while the book was in the making. Alessandro Bruschettini, who has supported my research for many years – including this particular endeavour – deserves special mention. So does my partner in life and fellow activist, Raffaello Bisso, a scholar of comparative literature whose engagement in the redefinition of paradigms is a constant source of inspiration for me. More than anyone else, I am indebted to Pushkar Sohoni: it was through conversations with him that the seeds for the Oxford conference and round table were first cast. He has followed up on this with valuable thoughts at virtually every stage in this project, and created the maps of the Deccan and the Indian Subcontinent featured in this book. May the seeds we have planted continue to bear fruit! Genoa, March 2012


Introduction —Laura E. Parodi—


his book presents contributions from established scholars and some newer voices in the rapidly expanding field of Deccani studies. It considers spaces, buildings and objects in a key region of Eurasia and the Indian Ocean in the early modern era, with specific attention to agency and experience. By bringing together scholars with different backgrounds such as art historians, archaeologists and anthropologists, it aims to introduce new perspectives on Islamic contributions to the culture and visual landscape of South Asia. More specifically, it aims to counterbalance the predominantly court-centred approach and the emphasis on the Mughal Empire that have dominated the study of Islamic art and architecture in South Asia for decades. The intended audience is potentially broader than the circles of South Asian or Islamic art specialists: a strong focus on methodology and the cross-referencing of visual and social history make the book potentially relevant to students of historical or art-historical methodology interested in expanding their inquiry beyond their familiar disciplinary or geographical boundaries. For the purposes of this book, the Deccan may be identified with the Marathi-, Kannada- and Telugu-speaking areas of India, roughly corresponding to the modern states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Goa. The location of the Deccan at the crossroads of long-distance Indian Ocean trade routes has been a conditioning factor throughout the history of the region. Between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries – the period considered in this book – Islam was a leading political and cultural force in the Deccan. The initial impulse came from North India, where a Muslim sultanate had been established in Delhi at the beginning of the thirteenth xxi

The Visual World of Muslim India

century. Shortly thereafter, the Mongols swept across Asia, and a stream of Muslim refugees from Central Asia and Iran reached Delhi; the new capital flourished and its numbers swelled to the point of encouraging expansion to the south by the following century. Between 1323 and 1340 the three main dynasties of the Deccan – the Marathispeaking Yadavas, Kannada-speaking Hoysala and Telugu-speaking Kakatiyas – were superseded by governors or tributaries of the north. In 1327, the Turkic ruler of Delhi, Muhammad bin Tughluq (r. 1325–51) even attempted to relocate part of the city’s elite and population to the former Yadava capital, Devagiri (renamed Daulatabad). Although the attempt was unsuccessful in itself, its impact was long-lasting. As the Tughluqs withdrew from the Deccan, two new lineages came to power: the Sangamas at Vijayanagara in the southern Deccan (1336) and the Bahmanis at Gulbarga in the north (1347), sanctioning the rise of an autonomous Indo-Muslim culture in the Deccan. Even though their dominance was short-lived, the Delhi sultans and the settlers they left behind introduced a courtly culture centred on a kind of chivalric ethos; with Islam also came renewed commercial and diplomatic ties between the Deccan and the lands to its east and west. One did not have to be a Muslim to participate in this culture, nor did one have to be a member of the court to be affected by it: on the one hand, as previous scholarship has demonstrated, many of these values had currency at Vijayanagara even though the rulers did not themselves profess Islam; conversely, the introduction of a new mode of warfare requiring a steady supply of good horses (which could not be bred locally) encouraged exchanges with the Muslim lands to the Deccan’s west, prompting the formation of immigrant merchant communities. Muslim immigrants to South Asia ‘brought with them the entire spectrum of cosmopolitan Persian culture.’1 Throughout the fifteenth century – an age of florescence in Iran and Central Asia under the Timurids and Turkmens – there was constant exchange between these regions and the Deccan: even Vijayanagara recruited Turkic mercenaries and exchanged embassies with the Timurids. At the turn of the sixteenth century, however, the political landscape of Iran and Central Asia changed dramatically: in 1501 the Turkmens were displaced by the Safavids, of Sufi descent and militant Shiite leanings, and about a decade later the Timurid Empire disintegrated under the joint blows of the Safavids and the Shaybanids, descended from Chingis Khan. One branch of the Timurids resettled in North India to give rise to what is now known as the Mughal Empire (1526–1858). Meanwhile the Bahmani state had broken up into five successor polities: Berar under the Imad Shahs (1490–1574), Bijapur under the Adil Shahs (1490–1686), Ahmadnagar under the Nizam Shahs (1496–1636), Bidar under the Barid Shahs (1504–1619) and xxii


Golconda under the Qutb Shahs (1520–1687). Along with Vijayanagara, these five states vied with one another for control of land and resources, with constantly shifting alliances. All six states also adapted to the new geopolitical scenario, constantly absorbing immigrants from overseas, including Africans (recruited as military slaves), Arabs, Iranians and Central Asians. All but one of the Muslim dynasties of the Deccan claimed to be of foreign origin themselves – the one exception being the Nizam Shahs of Ahmadnagar. The Indianborn Muslims, some of whom were descended from the original fourteenth-century settlers, were often Sunni, as also the African officers. These and the native nonMuslims formed a party often contending power with the remaining immigrants, who were frequently Shiite. But regardless of religious affiliations, it was expedient for the Deccani states to maintain good relations with Safavid Iran in order to counterbalance an increasingly aggressive and expansionist Mughal Empire. As the rift between Sunnis and Shiites widened throughout the eastern Islamic lands during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as a consequence of the Safavids’ militant pro-Shiite policy, the Nizam Shahs of Ahmadnagar and the Qutb Shahs of Golconda (the latter of Turkmen descent) sided with the Safavids. Despite its generally more inclusive and syncretic religious policy, Bijapur also gravitated towards them. Regardless of political rivalry, there was great mobility between the Deccani states, both at the level of the elite and of common folk, including artists and craftsmen. In addition, the Deccani courts – Bijapur and Golconda in particular – patronized literature in the respective regional languages. The Deccan’s multilingual milieu in the early modern era also witnessed the emergence of Dakani Urdu – a blend of Persian, Arabic and indigenous languages – as a new linguistic medium for communication and artistic expression. In 1565 the joint armies of Ahmadnagar, Bijapur and Golconda dealt a severe blow on Vijayanagara, from then greatly reduced in its geographical extension and sphere of influence. Subsequently, Berar and Bidar were incorporated by Ahmadnagar (1574) and Bijapur (1619) respectively. Ahmadnagar was divided by treaty between the Mughal Empire and Bijapur in 1636. That same year Bijapur and Golconda accepted Mughal suzerainty, and half a century later they were incorporated into the Mughal Empire (1686 and 1687 respectively). Meanwhile, the mosaic of ethnicities in the Deccan had been further complicated by the arrival of the Portuguese, Dutch and English, along with other Europeans, in the second half of the sixteenth century. Unsurprisingly, then, one of the Deccan’s salient characteristics is its mixed heritage deriving from a variety of immigrant ethnic components, combined with deep roots in local culture – deeper ultimately than those of the Mughal Empire further xxiii

The Visual World of Muslim India

north. Until the Mughal conquest – a powerfully unifying force, not only politically but culturally as well – the Deccan remained essentially ‘plural’ and possibly for this reason it seems to have attracted the attention of a different kind of scholarship. Until recently, there were few attempts to study the arts of the early modern Deccan comprehensively; apart from The Architecture and Art of the Deccan Sultanates authored by George Michell and Mark Zebrowski for the Cambridge History of India in 1999, recent titles have largely explored individual aspects of Islamic urbanism, architecture and art in the Deccan.2 Only the kingdom and regions of Vijayanagara have been rigorously studied as a system in the late twentieth century.3 Instead, there was a far more developed interest in the architecture and arts of the Mughal Empire. Yet interestingly, over the past six or seven years the Deccan has seen more scholarly advancement – and more interest from younger generations – than the well-established field of Mughal art. This may well be due to a widespread feeling that all had already been said about the Mughals – an impression that could not be more misleading. It may also have stemmed from the Deccan’s ‘plurality’ – of courts, linguistic backgrounds and religious affiliations – which has almost naturally invited more diverse types of inquiry. The primacy of the Mughal Empire – as construed by nineteenth-century scholars and expressed through the use of ‘sultan’ (in contrast to ‘emperors’) to refer to all ‘pre-Mughal’ Muslim rulers – has suddenly lost currency. As a result of new scholarship on the Deccan, and as this volume stands to testify, Mughal art specialists such as myself now paradoxically find themselves confronted with a host of new themes and perspectives: intrigued with questions we never dared to ask, and confronted with methodologies that could be fruitfully transferred to our field. Two books saw the light in 2011 that are in some way related to this project: Garden and Landscape Practices in Pre-Colonial India: Histories from the Deccan, edited by Daud Ali and Emma J. Flatt (Routledge), and Sultans of the South: Arts of India’s Deccan Courts, 1323–1687, edited by Navina N. Haidar and Marika Sardar (Metropolitan Museum of Art). The former is closer to this volume in spirit, as it investigates deeper into the motives and social implications of visual expressions; but it is concerned only with a specific aspect of Deccani culture. The latter is the most extensive collection of art-historical essays on the Deccan to date, but it is more specifically focused on the Muslim courts of the Deccan and adopts a strictly art-historical approach – as befits a publication sponsored by an institution hosting a sizeable collection of Deccani artefacts. All three books – including this one – are to a large extent the work of a tight-knit group of scholars who participated in three relevant conferences organized between 2007 and 2008 in Hyderabad, Oxford and New York. Many of the same xxiv


scholars also contributed to the 2010 volume Silent Splendour: Palaces of the Deccan, 14th–19th centuries (Marg) – the first attempt to discuss courtly architecture in the Deccan and the rituals revolving around it. The case studies collected in this book investigate the socio-historical background for urban structures, buildings and artefacts, expanding the quest beyond the court milieux with a variety of disciplinary approaches. The volume is arranged into four sections, in an ideal progression from the large- to the small-scale components of visual experience: it opens with spaces experienced by a range of subjects on a daily basis, continues on with examples of architecture and architectural decoration that affirmed peculiar identities or beliefs, and finally considers some artefacts that played a role in court diplomacy as well as everyday life. Islam reconfigured the visual landscape of the Deccan, most notably through the introduction of mosques and tombs. At the same time, the power of some indigenous forms and the symbolism associated with them was given due attention and selectively appropriated, creating a new visual synthesis. The first section of the book presents examples of both processes. Marika Sardar discusses the selective use of circular city plans in the regions ruled by the Qutb Shahs of Golconda and Hyderabad, demonstrating how a form with deep resonance locally, yet also familiar with educated Muslims, was adopted as a means to negotiate authority beyond the boundaries of religious affiliations. Robert Alan Simpkins engages with one of the Deccan’s most intricate visual landscapes: the early Qutb Shahi capital of Golconda and its surrounding areas. The fabric of the old city has become virtually invisible today, engulfed as it is and gradually replaced by modern Hyderabad. Shifting the attention from Golconda’s large and renowned sixteenth- and seventeenth-century mausolea to the countless smaller and often anonymous structures built over the same years, Simpkins clarifies and corrects current views on the development of the Qutb Shahi architectural style, showing the limits of art-historians’ reliance on such a limited sample of the city’s funerary architecture, no matter how impressive. Based on this refined chronology, ancient clusters of perceived sanctity, patterns of settlement and now-vanished routes are reconstructed in their diachronic and organic relationships. Pushkar Sohoni questions the very concept of a ‘city’ in the early modern Deccan. The case study he presents is that of a seasonal emporium, Chaul of the Nizam Shahs, that might be regarded as ‘urban’ only inasmuch as it comprised some of the essential infrastructure of a city. Yet such infrastructure seems to have catered for the overseas merchants who expected to find the provisions typical of an Islamic town, such as caravanserai, bath and congregational mosque. By contrast, Chaul’s population in all xxv

The Visual World of Muslim India

likelihood subsisted on agriculture for most of the year – the area being to this day covered in coconut and areca plantations. Thus Chaul was only a city during part of the year, and then only for some of its residents. The second section addresses identities and the ways in which they were construed, in terms of difference or integration and in a range of media. George Michell traces the presence of Muslims in the Vijayanagara Empire through the architecture and art of its eponymous capital, a site he has been investigating for a quarter of a century in collaboration with John Fritz and a wider team of scholars. Muslims were present at Vijayanagara both as members of the elite and populace and as regular visitors to the capital in their capacity as merchants, diplomats or craftsmen. The former patronized mosques and tombs in the city, while the activity of builders trained in the style of Vijayanagara’s Muslim neighbours is referenced in some of the architectural details. The presence of foreign Muslim merchants may also be detected in the visual record at Vijayanagara: Michell presents various examples from sculptural decoration and buildings. An especially intriguing suggestion, deserving further attention, is that figures identifiable as ‘Turks’ or ‘Arabs’ may be connected with different historical junctures. While Michell’s essay focuses on visual evidence for the interaction of local and foreign constituencies, Helen Philon assesses the legacy of North Indian (Tughluq) models on the early stages of Deccani ceremonial and their visual expression in architecture. Her essay focuses on one of the most enigmatic Deccani buildings – the ‘Great Mosque’ in Gulbarga Fort – suggesting it was originally a throne room. Her argument is based on a careful examination of its architectural vocabulary, taking into account sources on Tughluq as well as Bahmani ceremonial. Philon’s essay exemplifies current trends in scholarship that challenge the static categories (‘religious’ and ‘secular’ in this case) inherited from the last two centuries. One is reminded of the Cappella Palatina of the Norman kings in Palermo, which similarly combined religious and royal vocabulary. Klaus Rötzer explores the influence of myths and beliefs in what may at first seem an unlikely type of visual evidence, namely, the Deccan’s wrought-iron and castbronze guns. A concise technical introduction building on his previous research on the subject4 supports Rötzer’s conclusion that the Deccan lagged conspicuously behind the technological advancements that characterized gunpowder warfare in Europe or even North India. But accuracy in aim and effectiveness in battle do not seem to have been the primary concerns associated with Deccani guns: instead, their size and the presence of apotropaic complements such as auspicious verses predicting victory or a muzzle shaped like a monster’s mouth suggests the guns were probably ‘as much a force in the mind as on the ground.’ xxvi


Animal figures, often engaged in combat, are also found on city walls and gates in the Deccan. Gijs Kruijtzer considers the role of such figural symbolism in relation to group boundaries and identity-building. Like the circular cities discussed by Sardar, animal combats were potent and potentially ambivalent symbols that could be read at different levels. Kruijitzer argues they were recast according to contextspecific variations to address audiences of different ethnic backgrounds or religious affiliations. Such symbols could also be manipulated: those familiar with Mughal art will no doubt recall the ‘Golden Age’ images that proclaimed the advent of an age of idyllic peace precisely at the time when their assault on the Deccan was more determinedly pursued. In the third section the focus shifts to painting and painters in their intersections with court policy and diplomacy. Laura Weinsten discusses the earliest illustrated Dakani Urdu dīwān – a collection of poems composed by a ruler of the Golconda kingdom, Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah. The text and illustrations of the lavishly decorated copy examined by Weinstein – which was probably made for Muhammad-Quli himself – reference Persian traditions while at the same time subverting some of their rules. Thus the poetry combines Indic conventions such as the use of a female voice expressing longing for her lover (the virahiṇī) – here the king himself – and the Urdu language with adherence to the conventions of Persian dīwāns both in poetic format and in the organization of contents. In turn, although Weinstein deems them overall less innovative than the poetry, the illustrators adapt Persian Shirazi compositions using bolder colours, new spatial devices and occasionally new subjects. Keelan Overton considers the Deccan’s most celebrated patron – the Bijapur ruler Ibrahim Adil Shah II (r. 1579–1627) – from an unusual angle. This gifted ruler, wellversed in poetry and music, was also one of the most politically constrained, as his reign witnessed increasing Mughal interference in Bijapuri politics. By comparing surviving portraits of Ibrahim with the memoirs of a Flemish jeweller who frequently visited the court, Overton provides a compelling account of Adil Shahi diplomacy through the visual. She suggests that, by selectively omitting jewels from his portraits, Ibrahim attempted to safeguard some of his last gems from the Mughals’ peremptory requests to hand them over (along with elephants, horses, and a royal bride). She further provides convincing evidence of a diplomatic correspondence through images (and the accompanying inscriptions) between Ibrahim and the Mughal emperor Jahangir (r. 1605–27). But the role of painting at Ibrahim’s court was not limited to this, as is shown by Deborah Hutton and Rebecca Tucker. The authors follow the career of a relatively xxvii

The Visual World of Muslim India

obscure Dutch artist who was attached to the Bijapur court for a number of years. The role of this admittedly ordinary painter, they argue, who landed at the Adil Shahi court after a remarkable series of perambulations, was not that of a master artist. But in Ibrahim’s eyes, Heda was worth more than his art (of which no specimens have been traced so far), functioning as ‘a producer of valued goods, an exotic commodity, a status symbol, a merchant, and a diplomatic conduit.’ This fluid relationship between art, trade and politics reminds one of some other great patrons of his time, echoing the multifaceted motivation that led the Safavid Shah Abbas I (r. 1597–1629) to send embassies to Rudolph II Habsburg, as well as Sir Thomas Roe’s sojourn at the Mughal court in the early seventeenth century in his capacity as King James I’s ambassador. At a time when the world was becoming connected in unprecedented ways, the Deccan was right in the eye of the visual storm. The last section ideally leaves the boundaries of the courts again, to take a look at wider patterns of circulation of goods and ideas. My contribution considers the case of Bidri ware, a type of metalwork cast from an alloy of almost pure zinc that is named after the city of Bidar in present-day Karnataka and consequently regarded as a quintessentially Deccani art. But the ornamentation found on early Bidri ware does not reflect Deccani taste or traditions, and there is no definitive proof of a connection with Deccani court milieux before the Mughal conquest. Many Bidri pieces are hookahs – a new item introduced in South Asia at the turn of the seventeenth century as a means to smoke tobacco from the New World. Since they underwent significant changes in the first few decades since their introduction, I am using them as a kind of ‘guide fossil’ to date a whole corpus of artefacts bearing similar ornamentation. Their examination suggests a revised chronology and points to an elite market commodity produced in family workshops for the Mughal military officers stationed in the Deccan in the last decades of Alamgir I’s reign (r. 1658–1707). Navina Haidar’s essay examines the illustrations of a Sufi romance in the bestpreserved from a series of closely related copies whose precise lineage remains to be fully clarified. Not unlike Bidri ware, such manuscripts are an expression of the momentous social changes that followed the Mughal conquest of the Deccan (and their subsequent withdrawal from the region). As patrons multiplied during the eighteenth century, ideas circulated even faster – with storytellers, musicians, calligraphers and painters increasingly seeking employment on commission rather than being tied to a court. The case study chosen by Haidar raises questions of atelier practice (such as the adaptation of compositions from an existing repertoire, or the whole issue of ‘copies’) and suggests similar processes at the level of content, whereby devotional stories originating in Sufi circles with an intention to instruct people were elevated xxviii


to literary standards (with more intricate plots and often symbolic components) and complemented with equally high standards of ornamentation. The volume closes with a contribution by the late Omar Khalidi, a colleague and friend to many of us. His interest in popular devotion went beyond the mere documentary and historical record to address present-day cultural and religious policy. His essay, surveying the Deccan’s multifaceted Islamic devotion through some of the many spaces and objects that animate Muslim religious festivals to this day, is being published as it was resubmitted after an initial phase of editing. It would have likely undergone some further refinement (though only in terms of fine-tuning) and unfortunately, the author was not with us to provide captions or credits for the illustrations. Despite our best efforts and assistance from colleagues, most notably Robert Alan Simpkins and Pushkar Sohoni, permission to publish was secured for only few of the original pictures. Robert Alan Simpkins was so kind as to provide several replacement photographs. I am grateful to Omar Khalidi’s wife and daughter for agreeing to publish the essay exactly as it was resubmitted, with only some silent changes aimed at harmonizing it with the style of the volume. We hope this will be a fitting tribute to his memory.

Notes 1 Richard Eaton, ‘A Social and Historical Introduction to the Deccan, 1323–1687,’ in Sultans of the South: Arts of India’s Deccan Courts, 1323–1687, ed. Navina Najat Haidar and Marika Sardar (New York, NY, 2011), 2–9. 2 See most notably Mark Zebrowski, Deccani Painting (London / Berkeley / Los Angeles, 1983); Islamic Heritage of the Deccan, ed. George Michell (Bombay, 1986); and more recently Deborah Hutton, Art of the Court of Bijapur (Bloomington, IN, 2006). 3 See most notably the Vijayanagara Research Project Monograph Series: several volumes from the Series are referenced in the essays contained in this book and in the Bibliography. 4 See especially Rötzer, ‘Fortifications and Gunpowder in the Deccan,’ in Sultans of the South, 204–18.


Note on Transliteration and Conventions


n an attempt to make this publication accessible to the non-specialist, diacritical marks have been kept to a minimum: they are limited to the titles of historical or literary works and to those technical terms whose use is not current in modern English. All these are clearly marked out in italics. Compound personal names such as Burhanuddin have been spelled out as one word and in accordance with pronunciation; the initial ‘ain in dynastic and personal names (such as Ali or Adil Shah) has been omitted. Spelling rather than pronunciation has been followed in the case of italicized words provided with diacritical marks; as a result, a few minor spelling inconsistencies may be detected (for example, ‫ ث‬is rendered as th in Sih Nathr but as s, reflecting pronunciation, in Ghiyasuddin). All dates are CE unless otherwise stated. When CE dates are cited in conjunction with BCE or Hijri dates, ‘CE’ is explicitly mentioned in order to ensure disambiguation. Hijri dates are specified only when directly implied in a cited inscription or document. Citations are in a simplified version of the Chicago Humanities Style. Book chapters are always cited individually in the contributors’ notes; however, when several chapters from the same book are referenced, only the volume is cited in the bibliography, not the individual chapters. One of my aims with this book was to contribute a reflection on the paradigms inherited from previous generations of scholars. Among these is the conceptualization of Muslim rulers of the Indian Subcontinent as ‘sultans’ in contrast with the Mughals, who are labelled ‘emperors.’ The dichotomy was introduced in the British colonial period and does not reflect early modern conventions. Babur, the first Mughal xxxi

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ruler (r. 1526–30 in North India), regarded at least one contemporary Indian ruler (the ‘Sultan’ of Gujarat, as modern scholars would have it) as his own peer, a pādshāh – a title today translated as ‘Emperor.’ Conversely, he addressed the ruler of Iran, usually regarded as an emperor by scholars, as shāhzāda (prince; literally ‘son of a king’). Deccani rulers would seem to have employed shāh (‘king’ in the Iranian tradition) as their primary title (hence the dynastic names of Nizam Shah, Adil Shah and so forth), although sulṭān did feature in their titulature. Interestingly, the Mughals never referred to the Deccani rulers as shāh or sulṭān, but instead addressed them as khān in their chronicles and in diplomatic correspondence. The title khān designated subordinates such as provincial governors in the Mughal context. Incidentally, the Mughals reserved the title sulṭān to princes of the blood. Contributors to this volume were accordingly encouraged to challenge the conventional expressions ‘sultans’ and ‘sultanate.’ Some engaged with the suggestion, while others rejected it. After a lively debate, no agreement was reached. It was eventually agreed that the names of dynasties would be uniformed insofar as possible but without upsetting the prevalent conventions: thus Nizam Shahs, Qutb Shahs and Adil Shahs, but Bahmanis. It was also agreed that each contributor would have his sultans or shahs, sultanates or kingdoms, according to preference. Even the volume’s main convention as expressed in the title, ‘early modern,’ did not meet with unanimous approval: one contributor claimed ‘late medieval’ more accurately suited his case study. Readers should therefore be aware that the inconsistencies in titulature and, occasionally, in periodization result from extensive debate, not from superficiality. It is hoped they will stimulate further reflection and not hinder clarity; this is further proof, if need be, that the subfield of Deccan studies is still developing its foundational paradigms.


Part 1 Shaping Factors in Urban Landscapes: Symbols, Rituals, and Practical Concerns

Figure 1.1  Mecca Gate, Golconda (photograph by Marika Sardar).

1 The Circu l a r Cities of the D ecca n —Marika Sardar—

Introduction: sixteenth-century cities of the Deccan


n 1559, an inscription was carved into the stone cornice of the Mecca Gate at Golconda to commemorate the construction of a new fortification wall at the site (Fig. 1.1).1 According to the Tārīkh-i Muḥāmmad Quṭb Shāh, Sultan Ibrahim Qutb Shah (r. 1550–80), then ruler of Golconda, had recently been forced to defend the city against the Vijayanagara army and ‘reflected on the awkward situation in which he would have been placed if they had besieged him in his capital, which was incapable of defense, [therefore] he resolved to rebuild the fort of Golconda with stone and mortar. The nobles were invited to construct palaces within the walls, and the King resolved in future to hold his court therein.’2 Prior to this time the walled area at this site had been confined to the Bala Hisar, a hill where a fort had been established in the fourteenth century, and a palace area that was later added at its base. After Golconda became the Qutb Shahi capital, a larger settlement had grown around the Bala Hisar, but the area had apparently remained unprotected until the new fortification wall constructed by Ibrahim’s orders enclosed it. This wall was approximately eight kilometres in circumference, with eight gates around its perimeter, and it formed a rough elliptical shape that surrounded the Bala Hisar and the palace area, with no part touching the earlier inner walls (Fig. 1.2). In the 1620s, Muhammad Qutb Shah (r. 1612–27) founded a new city several kilometres east of Golconda and just beyond Hyderabad, the city that had replaced Golconda as the Qutb Shahi capital in the 1590s. It was called Sultannagar. Little remains of the 3

The Visual World of Muslim India N

© Kushal Kamble

Banjara Darwaza Jamali Dar.

NAYA QIL'A Patancheru Darwaza


Moti Darwaza



Fateh Darwaza


Makka Darwaza

Badli Darwaza Bamni Dar.


100 m

500 m

1 km

P Palaces M Jami Masjid EG Fateh Darwaza

GOLCONDA Figure 1.2  Golconda, plan (drawing by Kushal Kumar Kamble).

buildings that once stood there, save for a mosque and some ruins (Fig. 1.3), but a Qutb Shahi chronicle called Ḥadīqatu’s-Salāṭīn explains that Sultannagar was once extensively developed, and had been planned in a very specific way. This text states that it had two strong forts, one for the city and the other for the royal structures,3 and indeed, two concentric circular fortifications may be seen in aerial photographs of the site (Fig. 1.4).4 The inner circle was presumably the site of the royal buildings, 4

Figure 1.3  Sultannagar, mosque (photograph by Robert Alan Simpkins).

N © Kushal Kamble




Modern Road Diameter Palace Area: 900 m CITY SAROOR NAGAR LAKE


Diameter City: 2 km 150


500 m

1 km

Figure 1.4  Sultannagar, plan (drawing by Kushal Kumar Kamble).

The Visual World of Muslim India

while the outer circle was for the ‘city.’ Further details in the Ḥadīqatu’s-Salāṭīn suggest the plan of the city was reminiscent of the plan of central Hyderabad: four streets with shops (Char Bazaar) met at a point marked by a Char Minar, with the Maidan-i Darbar nearby. Interestingly, at approximately the same time when Golconda was expanded, new circular fortification walls were built at Ahmadnagar and Bijapur, capitals of the neighbouring Nizam Shahi and Adil Shahi sultanates. In 1562 Husayn Nizam Shah (r. 1553–65) replaced the mud brick walls that had protected Ahmadnagar since the 1490s when it was selected as the dynasty’s capital. This new stone fort was also circular, but unlike at Sultannagar and Golconda, only the royal palaces were located within it; the town, completely separate, was situated further to the west (Fig. 1.5).5 At Bijapur c. 1568, Ali Adil Shah I (r. 1558–80) ordered the Figure 1.5


© Kushal Kamble

  Ahmadnagar, plan


(drawing by Kushal Kumar Kamble).








200 m

G1 Main Gate G2 Emergency Gate

the circular cities of the deccan

construction of new walls around the small citadel that had theretofore served as the Adil Shahi capital; built in sections by his nobles, these walls encircled the citadel rather than extending from it or connecting to it in any way.6 Founded in 1599 and located west of Bijapur, Ibrahim Adil Shah II’s (r. 1580–1627) new city of Nauraspur also had a circular plan. Like Ahmadnagar, it too had only one wall with royal structures within it (Fig. 1.6).7

Figure 1.6 


Nauraspur (left)

© Kushal Kamble

and Bijapur (overleaf), plans (drawings by Kushal Kumar Kamble).



M 1






1 Sangat Mahal

Modern Village


1 km

2 Nari Mahal 3 Ladies’ Palace 4 Palace in Ruins

5 Grand Bazaar of Mhd Adil Shah P Palaces

M Small Mosque





500 m


Makka Darwaza


© Kushal Kamble

1 km





Fateh Darwaza

Asar Mahall



WG Makka Darwaza

EG Allahpur Darwaza

M Jami Masjid

P Ark Qilah / Palaces


Allahpur Darwaza



\ the circular cities of the deccan

The tradition of city planning in India This arrangement is quite unusual in northern India and the Deccan, where fortified capitals were typically polygonal, with the palace areas at one end rather than within each site.8 In the Deccan, cities such as Firuzabad and Bidar, two of the capitals of the Bahmani state (1347–1538) from which the Qutb Shahi dynasty emerged, were planned in such a fashion. Firuzabad, established in the early 1400s by Firuz Shah (r. 1398–1422), has almost rectangular fortifications that are pierced in the middle of the west side by a secondary walled enclosure, where the palaces stood (Fig. 1.7).9 At Bidar, a pre-existing fortification was enhanced in the 1420s when Ahmad Shah I (r. 1422–58) shifted the capital there; it became the palace grounds, while a large area of land to its south was walled and became the town.10 N

© Kushal Kamble

Figure 1.7 


Firuzabad, plan


(drawing by Kushal Kumar Kamble).








500 m


Palace Jami Masjid Eastern Gate Western Gate


Main Gates Secondary Gates



The Visual World of Muslim India

The model upon which Firuzabad and Bidar drew was one that had an earlier history in North India. Their most immediate predecessors would have been the fortified capitals constructed by the Tughluq dynasty (1320–1413), relevant both because the Tughluqs were the first to bring the Deccan under Muslim rule, and because their campaign to conquer the Deccan had led directly to the establishment of the Bahmani dynasty. Tughluqabad, in Delhi, was founded c. 1320 and its slightly elevated and walled palace area is to one side of the adjacent town (Fig. 1.8).11 In the 1330s the Tughluq court moved briefly to Daulatabad (in the northern Deccan) under Muhammad bin Tughluq (r. 1325–51). Muhammad constructed his palaces within the pre-existing citadel, adding a fortified area on one side of the plains below, where the rest of the population lived.12 This type of plan may be found in even earlier examples in parts of present-day Iran, Central Asia and Afghanistan – areas that had cultural, political and mercantile connections with India, and were likely the original source for this model of city planning. The historic city of Herat as we see it today reflects construction that took place under the Timurids during the fifteenth century, but its square form with a fortified, elevated citadel in the north had been established much earlier by the Karts, in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Through its various periods of occupation under different dynasties, this basic form, with its carefully calibrated relationship between the palace area and the town, was maintained.13 Similarities are not limited to the positioning of the palaces: cities built according to this model also followed similar patterns in the arrangement of elements in the adjacent towns, as Jere Bacharach and George Michell have both noted. Typically, a main street proceeded from the gate out of the palace area across the town, where it connected to one of the city gates; on it were located the congregational mosque and the bazaar. This basic model was adapted to the local topography at the individual sites, which explains the slight variations at each.14 Bacharach has suggested practical as well as symbolic reasons for this. While the court-citadel was separated from the rest of the town, it was still connected to it. This allowed for a certain measure of interaction with – and control over – the local population, although the element of separation within this scheme was emphasized: over time the processes for entering the palace area became more elaborate, involving passage through a series of gates which only the ruler could enter on horseback, observed by guards and drummers. As for the arrangement of the town, its main street and its monuments, Bacharach has described this as a ‘theatre’ for the ruler, who would enter the town during festivals or other special occasions and proceed down its main street.15 10








C Citadel P Palace


500 m

M Ja’mi Masjid


Main Gates Secondary Gates

EG Main Eastern Gate T Tomb

Figure 1.8  Tughluqabad, plan (drawing by Kushal Kumar Kamble).

A Adilabad

The Visual World of Muslim India

A study of circular cities further elucidates the difference between the earlier foundations and later Deccani plans. Within the Deccan itself, Warangal, located 140 kilometers northeast of Golconda, is a prime example. It was the capital of the Kakatiya kingdom (c. 1158–1323), which ruled over approximately the same area of Telangana as the Qutb Shahs. Warangal has a circular outer wall, built of earth, which surrounds a circular inner wall, built of stone, at the centre of which once stood a temple and a palace. Four gates at the cardinal directions opened onto four roads leading in to the middle of the site (Fig. 1.9).16 By comparison, the forts more typical of the Kakatiya period such as Kaulas, Bhongir and Koyilkonda, or the earlier capital at Hanumakonda, were small and situated on hills for strategic purposes; they comprised but one route N

Figure 1.9  Warangal, plan (drawing by Kushal Kumar Kamble).





, T. •




P Palace / Audience Hall


M Tughluq Mosque T Hindu Temple / Conquest Mosque



500 m

1 km

I Gate 12

I Earth

I Stone

the circular cities of the deccan

of access, and their outlines were irregular shapes that responded to their hilltop locations. Warangal was immediately different from these settlements with its location on a flat plain that had no natural defenses, and Phillip Wagoner has suggested that the Kakatiyas chose this site not only because it was symbolically critical to the dynasty, as the place where a lingam had miraculously appeared from the ground and where a dynastic temple had been built, but also because its open, featureless plain would allow for the imposition of a city with an idealized form: in this case, two concentric circles.17 Dorasamudra, formerly the capital of the Hoysala kingdom (c. 1026–1343) and now the town of Halebid in Karnataka, may have also had a similar form. The city’s development has not been studied in detail, but it is known that much architectural activity took place after about 1062, when Vinayaditya (r. 1047–98) moved the Hoysala capital there, through the reigns of Vishnuvardhana (r. c. 1108–52) and Ballala II (r. c. 1173–1220), under whom independence from the Chalukya dynasty was definitively established;18 therefore it belongs to the same period of development as Warangal. Little remains of this site today, but it has an ovoid shape and it appears that the dynastic palaces and temples were once clustered near its centre, indicating it might have been designed along the same lines as the Kakatiya capital. These two sites seem to suggest that round cities were the norm for capitals in the Deccan prior to the fourteenth century, although much more work needs to be done to establish a precise chronology. This type of city functioned in a manner quite different from the Tughluq (Persianate / North Indian) model previously discussed. Rather than establishing relationships of power between the ruler and his subjects by separating the former from the latter and structuring the arenas where the two had contact, the circular city is understood to have had a cosmogrammatic significance. According to Michell, Warangal – with its four cardinal gateways, central temple and royal palace, and a swastika-patterned scheme of movement from the centre of the city out through its bent-axis gates – replicates a mandala, or schematic depiction of the universe.19 While Wagoner agrees that Warangal’s form replicates some kind of cosmogram, he contends that Warangal’s various features more closely correspond to depictions of Jambudvipa, one of the three inhabited continents in the Puranic vision of the cosmos.20 In either case, Warangal’s very form would have presented the Kakatiya rulers as universal sovereigns. The tradition of circular cities can also be found in other parts of the world with which the Deccan polities had cultural connections. The notion of royal circular cities is also native to Iran, for instance, where the earliest examples date to the Parthian period 13

The Visual World of Muslim India

(247 BCE to 224 CE). The later Sasanian examples (228–651 CE) include Ctesiphon, Darabgird, Takht-i Sulayman (Shiz) and Firuzabad (Gur), of which the latter is the best understood.21 It was built by the founder of the Sasanian dynasty, King Ardashir I (r. 224–41 CE), with a smaller circular inner core, probably containing the royal buildings, surrounded by a larger circular wall, for the town, which was divided by radiating streets into twenty sectors (the palaces were located a short distance away at Qal‘a-i Dukhtar).22 The Abbasid capital of Baghdad continued this tradition into the eighth century. Founded in 762 by the caliph al-Mansur (r. 712–55), it was located on the banks of the Tigris River near where it crosses with the Euphrates, and not far from the Sasanian capital of Ctesiphon. The walls of the city were round and had four entrances (whose orientation was not toward the cardinal points but shifted so as to align one of the gates with Mecca), connecting to streets that passed through an outer ring of buildings into an inner circular area with a domed caliphal palace and a congregational mosque. The mosque was hypostyle in form, and the palace was covered by a large dome that was referred to as the Dome of Heaven (Qubbat al-Khadra’). It is believed that al-Mansur’s Baghdad purposely reused this ancient Iranian city plan to connect its founder to the great emperors of the lands over which he ruled, and both the Sasanian and the Abbasid examples are interpreted the same way. With their mountain-like perimeter walls, their four oriented gates, four avenues, and the placement of a ‘heavenly’ dome over the palace (or other royal buildings) at their crossing in the city’s centre, these cities recreated an image of the world, and symbolized their royal inhabitants’ divine decree to rule. 23 In these instances, the circular walls offered no strategic advantage, and this was also the case for the Deccani cities. In fact, other fortified cities in India continued to be built on a polygonal plan: royal sites constructed in the north between the midsixteenth and seventeenth centuries, such as Fathpur Sikri, Agra and Shahjahanabad, are all polygonal, and contain restricted royal zones that were located at one side of each settlement.24 Interestingly, Muhammad bin Tughluq did not take the circular plan back to Delhi with him after occupying Warangal and using its symbolic layout to frame his own monuments there: a mosque placed within the toraṇas of the Kakatiya Temple, and an audience hall that replaced their palaces. Why, then, was the plan widely adopted in the Deccan? It seems that a return to the past was intended, but which past?


the circular cities of the deccan

Potential sources of inspiration Baghdad and the cities of Iran are likely to have been known to the rulers of the Deccan: the legendary Sasanian kings would have been familiar to Persian speakers through the Shāhnāma, and Baghdad had attained an aura of wealth and luxury throughout the Islamic lands, as attested by the court historian Firishta’s description of the earlier, fifteenth-century development of Ahmadnagar: ‘So great exertions were made in erecting buildings by the King and his dependents, that in the short space of two years the new city rivaled Baghdad and Cairo in splendour.’25 But in terms of proximity, the earlier Deccan capitals were a more likely source. Klaus Rötzer and George Michell are among the scholars who have suggested this;26 but while the visual similarities they point out are clear, more can be said about these perceived connections and why they might have been made at this time. In light of recent scholarship on the Deccan, the notion of the Islamic sultanates borrowing from the region’s earlier traditions would not be surprising. In studying the legacy of the Kakatiyas, Cynthia Talbot has in fact demonstrated that it was a centuriesold strategy for the later rulers of Telangana to create connections with the kings who had unified this region for the first time. For instance, in the period just after the fall of the Kakatiyas in 1323, the Musunuri, Recherla Nayaka and Panta Reddi chiefs, who contested control of Telangana with the Bahmanis, issued land grants that began with a history of the Kakatiya kings and ended with an account of their own deeds. This strategy was aimed to evoke a ‘Kakatiya aura’ and suggest that it had passed down to the chiefs. In addition, these inscriptions copy the royal format for documenting land grants – copper plates – and record that the chiefs continued the royal practice of granting agrahāras. Later on, Shitab Khan, the early-sixteenth-century chief who captured Warangal and occupied it for several years, forged a connection to the city’s earlier rulers by restoring one of their temples and recording his work in an inscription displayed in the building. Yet another case relates to rulers outside this realm, the Aravidu kings who ruled from Penukonda after 1565 and styled themselves the ‘Sultans of Warangal’ although they did not in fact control that city.27 If, therefore, a connection between Golconda, Sultannagar and Warangal can be asserted, then the Qutb Shahs would have been following in a long Deccani tradition. Since the Qutb Shahi territories were almost the same as those of the Kakatiya kings, this kind of reference to their great capital would make sense as a way to link the dynasty to the legendary history of its lands,28 just as this rationale of overlapping territories has been presented for the relationship between Baghdad and its Sasanian antecedents.29 Realizing, as their predecessors had, that they had to integrate as much 15

The Visual World of Muslim India

as possible in order to successfully maintain control over the population of Telangana, the Qutb Shahs instituted a pattern of assimilation from the beginning of their rule, as John Richards has noted. The dynasty’s founder Sultan-Quli (r. c. 1495–1543) used local Telugu Brahmans in his administration and as tax collectors, continuing the role that this segment of society had played under the Kakatiyas, and through the time of Sultan-Quli’s son Ibrahim Telugu nāyakas, representing the warrior class, performed in the Qutb Shahs’ army at the capital and as hereditary garrison troops.30 With these and other actions, Richards goes so far as to state that ‘Ibrahim succeeded in presenting himself, in so far as possible, in the idiom and style of a Kakatiya, Valama, or Reddi monarch.’ 31 Inscriptions from the Qutb Shahi period further indicate how these Muslim rulers, like the fourteenth-century chiefs before them, were aware of the symbols of power that were utilized by the Kakatiyas and that would be most effective in connecting the dynasties in the minds of their subjects. Both the actions recorded in a series of inscriptions issued by the Qutb Shahs and the medium in which they were inscribed demonstrate how they carefully continued certain Kakatiya traditions. Two examples relate to the charitable and public works for which the Kakatiyas were best known. The first, an inscription from the reign of Ibrahim Qutb Shah dated 14 Ramadan 958 (1551), notes repairs made to a reservoir at Pangal and the division of income from the lands irrigated by it between a group of Muslims and a group of Brahmins. It is a bilingual inscription with text in Telugu and Persian, and at the top of the stone tablet are sun and moon symbols.32 This act of restoring a reservoir apparently first built in the Kakatiya period, setting aside part of the income for Brahmins and sealing the tablet’s sanctioned status with the appropriate symbols, all falls squarely within Kakatiya practices, and the development of Telangana through irrigation and agriculture had been a hallmark of their reign. The second example is a copper plate grant from the reign of Muhammad Qutb Shah, dated ‘Kalayukti Samvat Sravana Suddha 14’ (August 1618), which records that in that month and year, the official boundaries of the village of Bhimavaram were set according to all the correct rituals. It lists the reigning monarch who certified the act as ‘Sultanu Muhammaddu Padusa Rajyana,’ and the plate had apparently been affixed with a seal (lost by the time of publication) that was described as having lunar and solar symbols, a lingam and a bull.33 The pacing out of this village’s boundaries in the traditional fashion, the record of the act on copper plate and the affixing of a religious seal all follow a much earlier tradition in the region and demonstrate that the Qutb Shahs seized upon much the same symbols as the Musunuri, Recherla Nayaka and the Panta Reddi chiefs before them. 16

the circular cities of the deccan

A third inscription, from very early in Ibrahim’s career, gives evidence of a slightly different mode of interaction between this Qutb Shahi sultan and his Telugu-speaking subjects. Just outside the fort of Koyilkonda stands a stone pillar inscribed on all four sides with a lengthy Telugu declaration of loyalty to this ruler as he set forth from his exile at Vijayanagara to claim the throne of Golconda after the death of his brother Jamshid in 1550. Its text is noteworthy for such colourful avowals as, ‘… if any [among us] who wears a moustache on the face violates [this promise,] his moustache is as good as the hair on the private parts of public women,’ but it also demonstrates the importance of the local population in the political process.34 There is no direct precedent in Kakatiya practice for such an inscription to be displayed, but it certainly speaks to Ibrahim’s connection with his subjects. Further interactions with local culture are demonstrated by Ibrahim’s patronage of Telugu literature. In the sixteenth century, Ibrahim commissioned the poet Addani Gangadhara to create a work extending a vignette from the Telugu Mahābhārata about the lovers Samvarana and Tapati. This is significant not only because he followed the mode of local patrons who honoured older works in this way – by selecting a sub-story from a classic and requesting a poet to expand it – but also because the work he chose to so honour, a translation of the Sanskrit masterpiece, had been written during a golden age of Telugu literature.35 Whether or not his was a deliberate attempt to establish a connection with Kakatiya patronage,36 the dynasty’s reign is (and would have been) considered a high point in the development of Telugu literature, when some of its most revered poets were practising. Ibrahim’s decision to develop this type of patronage indicates his awareness of the array of symbols available to him; this is further demonstrated by the presence of Telugu poets at his court and their composition of panegyrics to the Qutb Shahi ruler that use typically Indic constructions, comparing ‘Malikibharama’ – as he is known in such texts – to the moon, the ocean and Indra, and calling him a cakravartin. As Wagoner suggests, these verses would have ‘played an important role in constructing the public image of the king because they were broadly circulated within the elite circles of society.’37 Like the dissemination of royal inscriptions, the Qutb Shahi patronage of literature represents the active engagement of these rulers with the past, suggesting that the Kakatiyas and their capital – or some other local model – were not an unlikely source for other elements of imperial ideology.38 As a symbol of the Kakatiyas par excellence, it would have made sense for the Qutb Shahs to refer to Warangal, which encapsulated their status as world rulers. This would also seem to fall within a tradition of emulating the Kakatiyas to maintain continuity between the earlier and later 17

The Visual World of Muslim India

rulers of Telangana, although none of the other Kakatiya successors had made such a reference to their capital. For the Adil Shahs and Nizam Shahs, the memory of the Kakatiyas probably did not hold the same resonance as it did for the Qutb Shahs, as their sway extended over lands formerly ruled by the Yadava and Hoysala dynasties. Although it does not appear that there were direct references to these dynasties in Bijapur and Ahmadnagar historiography or patronage, the reason for the use of a circular plan at those two sites might be linked to a more general interest in local history and its royal traditions, for which there is some evidence. Both dynasties used local languages for certain court functions (Marathi at Ahmadnagar and Kannada at Bijapur), for instance, and Ibrahim Adil Shah II’s own writings and patronage of music indicate his knowledge of local theories of art, aesthetics and literature.39 The form of the circular city might have been considered desirable in that it was generally seen as a local or ancient symbol connected with royal power; the concept might not have been associated with a specific site connected with specific rulers, such as Warangal was, but might have been known as an abstract idea. In the treatise called Nujūm al-‘Ulūm (‘The Stars of the Sciences’), written by a Bijapuri courtier and dated 978 H (1570–71 CE), the round fort is discussed as one of the ideal types fitting of the cakravartin, the universal ruler of Indic belief.40 The circulation of such works, which also discussed other symbols associated with great rulers (compiled from sources originating in a variety of cultures), exemplifies one way in which these beliefs were perpetuated under Islamic rule. Thus, the inspiration for the spate of new circular cities in the Deccan may well have been a local tradition, but one that would have resonated with other cultural influences in the Deccan. Perhaps the convergence between the Iranian and Indic traditions, in form if not in meaning, would have provided the idea of the circular city with significance in the specific context of the Deccan in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and would have facilitated its adoption at that time and place.41 The meaning of this form in the sultanate period may have shifted, however. There are, after all, major differences between the region’s Muslim capitals and their Indic and Iranian predecessors. Except for Sultannagar, the Deccan capitals are not perfect circles with the palace area at the exact centre,42 nor do they have all of the characteristics that endow other circular cities with cosmographic or other symbolic significance, such as the four cardinal gates and avenues meeting at the centre of the city. Bijapur and Golconda were also developed in stages, and one should be mindful that – although by the late sixteenth century they appeared to have a concentric plan – this had not been the case from the beginning. 18

the circular cities of the deccan

Furthermore, although the new Deccan cities had a different overall shape, some elements of their design still conformed to the North Indian, Islamicate scheme. At Golconda, Bijapur and Ahmadnagar, there is only one access to the palace areas (it is unclear where the entrances to the Sultannagar palace area were). And, although at Bijapur and Golconda, roads from the gates in the outer fortification walls converge upon the palace areas from all sides, they circle around to the single entrance into these restricted areas, and from this gate issues a street with the congregational mosque, shops and other monuments. This arrangement means that to a certain degree the palace areas of these cities functioned in the same relationship to the surrounding town as in the Tughluq model described above. Finally, contemporary observers such as the court historians at the cited Deccan capitals do not mention the shape of these fortifications when discussing their construction, their significance and impact on the functioning of the city. Firishta, Tabataba’i and the author of the Tārīkh-i Muḥāmmad Quṭb Shāh note the erection of new city walls of Bijapur, Ahmadnagar and Golconda, respectively, but while praising their impact on improving city life, the issue of their shape and how it might have changed the way the city functioned does not arise. Yet the placement of the palace area at the centre of Golconda, Sultannagar and Bijapur radically altered its visibility, potential accessibility and overall relationship to the rest of the town. Its location near or at the centre of the city meant that all the other elements of the town were arranged around it and referred to it; and at all of the sites, the use of circular walls would have affected the impression of each city both to visitors seeing it from a distance and to those experiencing it from within. The difference between the earlier (Tughluq) and later sultanate sites is especially dramatic when comparing their plans. Studying the outline plans created by modern scholars is not an entirely artificial means of understanding these sites: we know that space could be conceived in this way during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For instance, the section of the Nujūm al-‘Ulūm that deals with the ideal shapes for forts is illustrated by bird’s-eye-view plans, which demonstrates that this somewhat abstracted understanding of the fort’s shape was in fact relevant to an understanding of the city’s form, and that physical spaces could be perceived in this way. It seems as though there were two phases in the adoption of the circular plan: in the mid-sixteenth century a loose visual reference to the earlier Deccan capitals was made, but by the time when Sultannagar was founded, a more detailed understanding of the earlier cities and their symbolism had developed. Within the Qutb Shahi realms, there exists a transitional phase in this process. For instance, Hyderabad, founded in 1591, contains two perpendicular streets marked by a four-sided monument (the 19

The Visual World of Muslim India

Char Minar), with the palace and a mosque equally displaced from this central axis, which Wagoner compares to the arrangement of royal and religious structures at the centre of Warangal. However, circular walls were not built at Hyderabad at this time. 43 The timing of this change in city planning and the return to native traditions may be linked to the specific circumstances the sultanates experienced in the mid-sixteenth century. The particular moment at which Golconda was transformed may relate to the newfound stability of the Qutb Shahi polity at the time when it took on this idealized form. Ibrahim was the first of the Qutb Shahs to assume the title of ‘sultan’ and to start minting coins, two important signs of a new phase of separation from the Bahmani dynasty, which by this time had come to an end.44 This would mirror the development of Warangal and Dorasamudra following the newly established independence of the dynasties based there. The Kakatiyas built Warangal after they had overthrown the last vestiges of attachment to their overlords the Chalukyas, and moved from their ancestral home of Hanumakonda into this newly built city.45 Similarly, after 1062, when the Hoysalas had started to establish their independence from the Chalukyas, Dorasamudra was referred to in inscriptions as rājadhānī, capital city, and the subsequent period was one of growth for the kingdom. The later Hoysalas can be associated with many public works and benefactions, especially the provision and repair of tanks in support of agricultural and urban development; this was mirrored by their move to a location that was not very well-placed strategically, but was more central to the kingdom.46 Therefore the switch to circular cities might have symbolically announced the definitive break of the Adil, Nizam and Qutb Shahs from the Bahmanis, whom they had initially served as governors. It is important to note that some aspects of Qutb Shahi administration do not reflect any influence from Kakatiya traditions: Qutb Shahi coins and titles, for instance, do not betray any anomaly from precedents established in the Bahmani period or the beginning of Muslim rule in India. Ibrahim Qutb Shah’s tomb was revetted in coloured tiles in the fashion of buildings in Iran, and decorated with ‘alams, indicators of his Shiite faith. Muhammad Qutb Shah was the builder of the Mecca Masjid, a massive congregational mosque at the heart of Hyderabad and one of his best-known benefactions. These facts, however, make the change in city plans all the more significant.

Possible reasons for the adoption of the circular plan If the Muslim rulers of the Deccan were making a conscious reference to cities of the past, the question still remains as to how this reference would have been meaningful to 20

the circular cities of the deccan

them. What did they know of the history of the lands over which they ruled, what were the sources available to them, and how were they interpreted? How did they understand the historical cities to which they were referring, and how were plans copied from one site to another? The following discussion will be based primarily on an analysis of knowledge about the Kakatiyas and their capital in the period subsequent to their rule. There was in fact a certain body of information about the Kakatiyas that might have been available to the Qutb Shahs. Some sources indicate a general knowledge of this earlier dynasty; some others provide more detailed knowledge about specific Kakatiya kings and their accomplishments, while a third group attests to an interesting phenomenon in which the Kakatiyas were discussed but elements of their histories changed in order to perform a political function. Here, the fact that these histories were written in the first place is significant in proving a certain interest in the past and a search for ways to understand it. Persian-language historical chronicles may have been the source most easily accessible to the Muslim rulers of the Deccan. The two Qutb Shahi chronicles I have been able to study, the Tārīkh-i Muḥāmmad Quṭb Shāh and the Ḥadīqatu’s-Salāṭīn, focus on members of the Qutb Shahi dynasty itself, with little preamble on the earlier history of the area or reference to it through the course of the text. Similar patterns hold for most other histories produced at the Deccan courts, such as Tabataba’i’s Burhān-i Ma’āthir, written in 1591 at Ahmadnagar. A summary of the Bahmani period is given as a preface, but not the earlier history of the Deccan. The names of Indian rulers are provided when they figure in the events of the period, but no extended discussions of their dynasties are provided. However, Firishta, the Bijapuri court historian, begins his wider-ranging book on the history of Muslims in India with a chapter on the earlier history of the Subcontinent which, as he states, is based on a copy of Abu’l Fazl’s translation of the Mahābhārata.47 This introductory chapter commences in the mists of prehistory, runs through the Gupta period, and ends with a brief summary of the kingdoms that ruled over the different parts of India at the time of Mahmud of Ghazna’s raids from present-day Afghanistan in the eleventh century. Firishta’s introduction is quite extensive and basically accurate, indicating that some specific information was available about India’s past, its major rulers and their relative chronology. But it was not within the purview of historians writing in Persian to delve deeply into local history and seek out the sources from far-flung libraries as Firishta did in order to cover the Muslim dynasties he discusses.48 If such accounts are typical of what was being produced at the Muslim courts of the Deccan, there is evidence for altogether different activities taking place outside of 21

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them. As documented by Talbot and others, there appears to have been an increase in historical writings in Indic languages beginning in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and continuing through at least the 1600s. These texts seem to focus on encounters between Muslim and Hindu rulers,49 but relevant to our discussion is the fact that many were written about events that had taken place long in the past. This was a trend throughout India, but the relevant examples, both dealing with the Kakatiyas, are the Pratāparudra Caritramu, a sixteenth-century chronicle by Ekamranatha, and the Rāyavācakamu, thought to date c. 1600. Although the title of the Pratāparudra Caritramu indicates it is a biography of the last Kakatiya ruler, it is in fact a history of the entire dynasty, including details on the foundation of their second capital at Warangal. While it places the Kakatiya kings within a socio-political context more reflective of the author’s times rather than their own, it does discuss the genealogy of the line and events connected with each of the successive kings, suggesting Ekamranatha’s access to somewhat detailed knowledge of historical events that had taken place several centuries before.50 But one extraordinary aspect of this text is its portrayal of Prataparudra, the last Kakatiya king, and his defeat by the Tughluq armies in 1323. In this account, not only does Prataparudra survive the trip to Delhi after being captured by the Tughluqs (much other evidence points to his dying on the way), but once there, the Tughluq ruler recognizes him as an incarnation of Shiva, frees him, and allows him to return to Warangal.51 Back at his capital, Prataparudra authorizes his nāyakas to become independent kings, and then dies. As the text was written in the sixteenth century, this transformation of Prataparudra’s ending has been interpreted as an attempt by the nāyakas, well-established by this time, to provide a benediction for their status.52 The Rāyavācakamu contains the same episode, documenting Prataparudra’s trip to Delhi, recognition of his divinity, and return to Warangal. In this case, however, the story of his return is believed to have been contrived in order to provide legitimacy to the Vijayanagara kings.53 One of the more interesting appearances of Prataparudra in a post-Kakatiya text is in a biography of Siraj al-Din Junaydi, a Sufi holy man connected to the Bahmani court at Gulbarga in the late fourteenth century. Sultan Muhammad’s Armughān-i Sulṭānī states that upon his defeat, Prataparudra asked to convert to Islam rather than being taken to Delhi as a captive, and that Siraj al-Din Junaydi, in a feat of time travel, performed this act. 54 This process of creating historical links through revisionist texts was not limited to the Kakatiyas and their would-be successors, but can be documented in two different instances in Vijayanagara historiography as well. A group of texts from the 22

the circular cities of the deccan

sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, for instance, depict the Vijayanagara Empire as a successor state to the Delhi sultanate.55 At the same time, Rama Raya, the regent ruler between 1542 and 1565, attempted to connect himself to the Chalukya dynasty (974–1190) through slightly different means – in inscriptions that laud him as ‘Chalukya Emperor’ or ‘born in the Chalukyan line,’ and by collecting architectural elements from Chalukyan monuments to redeploy in buildings at his capital. This has been explained as a way of expressing his desire to rule a kingdom that extended, like the Chalukyas’, over multiple cultural regions, and – significantly – to invoke their royal aura to cover his lack of a distinguished family background.56 This interest in writing histories has been connected to the influence of the Persian historiographical tradition, although – as Talbot notes – there were many societal changes between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries that would have necessitated the writing of such texts at this particular moment.57 Whatever the reason for their increased production at this time, such works would have served two major purposes in the context in which we are interested. Firstly, they would have increased awareness of the indigenous history and provided a certain amount of ‘factual’ information about people and events of the past (at least in the way it was understood in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries); secondly, they would have valorized the earlier Deccani kings: in their presentation of the Kakatiyas as exemplary, they would have rendered them as a positive source of legitimation for the later Muslim rulers of the Deccan (the success of this approach is seen in Prataparudra’s appearance in the biography of Shaykh Sirajuddin Junaydi). Although it is not clear if multiple copies of the Telugu texts were made or if the Deccani sultans would have had access to them, at least it is known that facts and stories about the Kakatiyas and the other great dynasties of the Deccan, such as the Chalukyas, were in general circulation. Another source of historical information would have been inscriptions, the analysis of which forms the basis of much of the modern understanding of Kakatiya, Hoysala and Yadava histories. These sources can provide facts as basic and important as regnal dates, genealogical relations and the outcome of battles, or as intricate as the conception of one’s place in history and connections to earlier dynasties.58 The fact that the Kakatiya inscriptions were emulated in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as demonstrated above, indicates that they were read by at least some segments of society, but the details for which scholars rely on them today were not those for which they were read in the past. Instead, they were recognized as marking interactions between the king and his people, and their formulations and the deeds they recorded were the pertinent bits of information, demonstrating a certain nuance to an understanding of the past. 23

The Visual World of Muslim India

People with local ties who served in the Qutb Shahi administration would have been another conduit for the transmission of Indic culture to these Muslim rulers. Wagoner has traced the careers of several Telugu-speaking men of local origin who worked within the Qutb Shahi court; the impressive and varied body of literature they produced or patronized is one sign of their knowledge of and engagement with the history of the region.59 The memories and oral traditions they probably shared within court circles would have been another method for keeping the history of the Kakatiyas alive in a very personal way, rather than in an abstract historical fashion. Oral histories collected by Col. Mackenzie in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries attest to the continued knowledge of events from the Kakatiya period up to this very recent time, and the importance of connecting these kings to local histories.60 Thus, it seems that the Kakatiyas would have hovered somewhere between legend and fact in the Qutb Shahi period. While very real evidence of their presence was available – their temples and fortifications were still standing, their inscriptions were still read – the quality of the sources from this period suggest that the pursuit of ‘facts’ about them was not an important goal. It seems that the Qutb Shahs would have been attempting to revive an aura of their image rather than claiming a direct connection, and in this way the use of the symbol of Warangal is especially appropriate. Finally, we must consider the mechanics of such a revival as proposed here. How well would the early Deccan capitals have been known, and were their plans truly understood? How can we say that a city plan was copied from one site to another? 61 Again, this discussion will focus on the example of the Kakatiyas and Warangal with an analysis of the information available in the Qutb Shahi period. At this time, Warangal no longer held the administrative or symbolic importance it had during other post-Kakatiya occupations (such as under the Tughluqs or Shitab Khan, discussed above) and as a result, it is difficult to know of the activities there in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Periodic details are known: it is believed to have been conquered by the Qutb Shahs in 1579; there are Qutb Shahiperiod repairs to some of the buildings;62 and the French physician François Bernier mentions it was a centre for carpet weaving in the late seventeenth century,63 but nothing much more definitive is known about what was happening there in the late Qutb Shahi period. Prior to this time, however, a certain amount of information about the city might have accumulated, through such sources as Persian-language histories that mention the city beginning from the fourteenth century, when the Kakatiyas were still occupying it. These include histories of the Khalji and Tughluq invasions of the Deccan. Both Amir Khusraw’s description of the 1309–10 Khalji attack on Warangal 24

the circular cities of the deccan

and Barani’s account of the 1321 Tughluq siege of the site discuss the city’s fortifications at length, and both mention its outer wall of earth and an inner wall of stone.64 Later on, the Persian chronicles written at the Deccani courts also mention Warangal repeatedly, if only in passing and in relation to an event (usually military) that took place there. Such records indicate that knowledge of Warangal’s fortifications, at least, was widespread. More precise stories about the city’s shape and some of its monuments must have also been in circulation, as attested by Vallabharaya’s Krīḍâbhirāmamu, a Telugu play written in the fifteenth century and set entirely in Warangal. Although Vallabharaya had never been there, he describes the circular form of the Kakatiya capital in detail. His description contains some inaccuracies but he clearly grasped the significance of the city’s form and its intended cosmogrammatic symbolism, which was in fact a key part in its selection as the setting for his play. It is believed that, judging from the way he understood the city, he must have learned about it through spoken descriptions.65 Further evidence that the specifics of Warangal’s plan were understood can be gleaned from its use in the Tughluq period. During the Tughluq occupation of the site between approximately 1323 and 1336, a very thoughtful reuse of the city centre was made – the Kakatiya Temple was replaced with a mosque that was centred within its four toraṇas; and an audience hall, oriented to the mosque, was erected on the site of the former Kakatiya palaces. It was obviously important to maintain a continuity and connection to Warangal’s former rulers, and the symbolic way in which the city functioned was immediately grasped and redeployed by its Tughluq inhabitants.66 Finally, it is possible that one or more of the Qutb Shahi rulers actually travelled to Warangal. To judge from the example of Abdullah Qutb Shah, it appears that the rulers of this dynasty spent a fair amount of time visiting the different parts of their kingdom. The Ḥadīqatu’s-Salāṭīn records several tours made by Abdullah, who moved with a large retinue, stopping at sites for two to three days at a time. His stops were not always related to official business – a trip to Ibrahimpatan was inspired by stories he had heard about an aviary and treasury there – and certain comments indicate that there was an opportunity to observe different aspects of the towns and forts that were visited and to know what their major features were. At Devarkonda, for instance, the travelling party climbed to the top of the citadel twice, observing the fort’s massive walls and remarking on the temples that they remembered Sultan-Quli had emptied of idols. Such commentary by the chronicle’s author indicates the type of lore and oral tradition that was attached to various sites, and hints at what information might have been attached to the legendary capitals of the earlier kings of the Deccan.67 25

The Visual World of Muslim India

In all, there seems to be strong evidence for linking the later Islamic sites to the earlier cities of the Deccan – a reason for making this connection existed, as well as the necessary amount of information that would have enabled the transfer – all of which supports the visual similarities noticed by earlier scholars. Furthermore, the likelihood that the symbol of the circular city would have been understood in all of its valences is high, given the amount of knowledge of Persianate, Islamicate and Indic traditions in circulation at the time.

Notes 1 Ghulam Yazdani, ‘Inscriptions in Golconda fort,’ Epigraphia Indo-Moslemica (Calcutta, 1913–14), 48–49. 2 This chronicle was written in 1616–17 at the Golconda court by an anonymous author. Briggs appended a translation to his translation of the Tārīkh-i Firishta, where it appears after Firishta’s account of the Qutb Shahi kings: see History of the Rise of the Mohamedan Power in India, tr. J.A. Briggs, vol. 3 (London, 1829; repr. Calcutta, 1997), 245. The dates mentioned in this chronicle do not exactly match the dates provided in other contemporary sources, which place this event in 1562–63, or the inscription on the Mecca Darwaza of 1559, but clearly the walls were built sometime within this four- or five-year period of internal struggle in the Deccan and the reason for their construction can be related to this time of turmoil. 3 This chronicle was written by Mirza Nizamuddin Ahmad for Abdullah Qutb Shah (r. 1627–72) in 1644. The Persian text of the manuscript (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, Hist. 214) was published by Syed Ali Asghar Bilgrami (Hyderabad, 1961), 25–26. My translation, with the help of Maryam Ekhtiar. 4 My sincere thanks go to Robert Alan Simpkins and Klaus Rötzer who brought to my attention the fact that Sultannagar’s walls may still be seen and are circular; Robert Alan Simpkins additionally provided me with images of Sultannagar and I am grateful that he shared his discovery with me. 5 This construction is mentioned by the Nizam Shahi court historian Tabataba’i in the Burhān-i Ma’āthir of 1591, tr. by T.W. Haig as ‘The history of the Nizam Shahi kings of Ahmadnagar,’ Indian Antiquary 49 (1920), 66–75, 84–91, 102–8, 123–28, 157–67, 177–88, 197–204, 217–24; 50 (1921), 1–8, 25–31, 73–80, 101–6, 141–46, 193–98, 205–10, 229–34, 261–68, 277–83, 321–28; 51 (1922), 29–36, 66–73, 125–31, 198–203, 235–42; 52 (1923), 29–39, 159–62, 250–62, 287–300, 331–46. This note in 50 (1921), 106. The event is also noted by Firishta, in History of the Rise, vol. 3, 148. Pushkar Sohoni helped me to understand the relationship between the palace area and the town. 6 Deborah Hutton, Art of the Court at Bijapur (Bloomington, IN, 2006), 28–29, 33; her book also provides the references to the earlier sources for this information.


the circular cities of the deccan 7 Hutton, Art of the Court, 107–8. Such additions were not made at Bidar, capital of the Bahmani and later of the Baridi kingdom; not enough is known of the capitals of the fifth Deccani polity, Berar, to know if they were also altered at this time. 8 Phillip B. Wagoner has also identified this as their most characteristic feature, as in ‘The Islamicate contribution to the city plan of Vijayanagara’: paper delivered at a symposium on Hindu and Muslim in Precolonial South Asia, University of Texas, Austin, November 1998, summarized in Richard Eaton, A Social History of the Deccan, 1300–1761: Eight Indian Lives (Cambridge, 2005), 101–2. I would like to thank John Fritz for providing me with this reference. 9 The history of the site and a full description of its buildings may be found in George Michell and Richard Eaton, Fīrūzābād: Palace City of the Deccan (Oxford, 1992). 10 See Ghulam Yazdani, Bidar: Its History and Monuments (Oxford, 1947), for plans and more information. Only the citadel walls of Gulbarga, the first Bahmani capital, remain, and it is unclear if the adjacent town was ever enclosed. 11 Mehrdad and Natalie H. Shokoohy, ‘Tughluqabad, the earliest surviving town of the Delhi sultanate,’ Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 57/3 (1994), 516–50, fully discusses this site. See also their more recent volume Tughluqabad: a Paradigm for Indo-Islamic Urban Planning and its Architectural Components (London, 2007). 12 For more information see Anthony Welch and Howard Crane, ‘The Tughluqs: master builders of the Delhi sultanate,’ Muqarnas 1 (1983), 123–66. 13 See Terry Allen, Timurid Herat (Wiesbaden, 1983). 14 Jere Bacharach, ‘The court-citadel: An Islamic urban symbol of power,’ The Proceedings of the International Conference on Urbanism in Islam, vol. 3 (Tokyo, 1989), 221; Michell and Eaton, Fīrūzābād, 67–68. 15 Bacharach, ‘Court-citadel,’ 207–10, 215–17, 223–25. 16 The two fortification walls and parts of the temple still stand today. For theories on the location of the Kakatiya palaces, see George Michell, ‘City as cosmogram: the circular plan of Warangal,’ South Asian Studies 8 (1992), 16; Phillip Wagoner and John Henry Rice, ‘From Delhi to the Deccan: newly discovered monuments at Warangal-Sult̤ ānpūr and the beginnings of Indo-Islamic architecture in southern India,’ Artibus Asiae 61/1 (2001), 79–88. 17 P.V. Parabrahma Sastry, The Kakatiyas of Warangal (Hyderabad, 1978), 172; Wagoner and Rice, ‘From Delhi to the Deccan,’ 110. 18 J. Duncan M. Derrett, The Hoysalas: A Medieval Indian Royal Family (Oxford, 1957), 32–36; Romila Thapar, A History of India, vol. 1 (New Delhi, 1990), 198. 19 Michell, ‘City as cosmogram,’ 14–16. 20 Phillip B. Wagoner, ‘Afterword: A Dense Epitome of the World: the Image of Warangal in the Krīḍâbhirāmamu,’ in A Lover’s Guide to Warangal: The Krīḍâbhirāmamu by Vinukŏṇḍa Vallabharāya, tr. Velcheru Narayana Rao and David Shulman (Delhi, 2002), 99.


The Visual World of Muslim India 21 This list is derived from Charles Wendell’s in ‘Baghdad: Imago Mundi, and other foundation-lore,’ International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 2 (1971), 104–5, which also provides a summary of the earlier scholarship on, and interpretation of, these sites. 22 Dietrich Huff, ‘Fīrūzābād,’ in Encyclopaedia Iranica, ed. Ehsan Yarshater, vol. 9 (1999), 633–36; G. Herrmann, ‘The art of the Sasanians,’ in The Arts of Persia, ed. R.W. Ferrier (New Haven, CT, 1989), 62; Edith Porada, The Art of Ancient Iran: Pre-Islamic Cultures (New York, 1965), 193–94. 23 Wendell, ‘Baghdad: Imago Mundi,’ 106, 119, 122, 128. 24 See Michael Brand and Glenn D. Lowry, Akbar’s India: Art from the Mughal City of Victory (New York, 1985), 35–54; Ebba Koch, The Complete Taj Mahal and the Riverfront Gardens of Agra (London, 2006), 23; and Catherine B. Asher, The Architecture of Mughal India, vol. 1.4 of The New Cambridge History of India (Cambridge, 1992), 42–45. 25 Firishta, in History of the Rise, vol. 3, 123. 26 Rötzer, personal correspondence; Michell, in Michell and Eaton, Fīrūzābād, 67. 27 Cynthia Talbot, Precolonial India in Practice: Society, Region, and Identity in Medieval Andhra (Oxford / New York, 2001), 177–79, 182, 196; this discussion also provides the specific inscriptions on which the argument is based. 28 Phillip B. Wagoner, ‘The Place of Warangal’s Kirti-Toranas in the History of Indian Islamic Architecture,’ Religion and the Arts 8/1 (2004), 25. 29 Wendell, ‘Baghdad: Imago Mundi,’ 106–7. 30 John F. Richards, Mughal Administration in Golconda (Oxford, 1975), 1–3, 17–18. 31 Richards, Mughal Administration in Golconda, 10–11. As an example, Rama Raya, whose later career at Vijayanagara is well known, had his start at the Golconda court under Sultan-Quli. See for example Eaton, Social History of the Deccan, 79, 87. 32 Ghulam Yazdani, ‘Inscription of Ibrahim Qutb Shah from the Pangal tank, Nalgonda district,’ in Epigraphia Indo-Moslemica (Calcutta, 1925–26), 23–25. For a discussion of Amin Khan, a Qutb Shahi courtier whose charitable acts reflected also values of the Kakatiya period, see Phillip B. Wagoner, ‘In Amin Khan’s Garden: Charitable Gardens in Qutb Shahi Andhra,’ in Garden and Landscape Practices in Precolonial India: Histories from the Deccan, ed. Daud Ali and Emma J. Flatt, 101–28 (New Delhi, 2011). 33 Y. Vittal Rao, ‘Gunupudi Bhimavaram copper-plate grant of Mahammad Kutub Shah of Golconda (1612–26),’ Journal of the Andhra Historical Research Society 22 (1954), 147–50. This article provides only a transcription of the Telugu text, which was kindly translated for me by B.V. Rama Rao. 34 N. Lakshmi Narayan Rao, ‘Inscription on a small pillar in front of the fort gate at Koilkonda, District Mahbubnagar,’ Annual Report of the Archaeological Department of Hyderabad (1928–29), 21–24. 35 Wagoner contrasts this way of working with older literary traditions to, for instance, the Mughal emperor Akbar’s, whose interest involved only translation. Phillip B. Wagoner, ‘Emperor Ibharama and the Telugu world of Qutb Shahi Hyderabad’ (paper presented at the Institute of Fine Arts, New


the circular cities of the deccan York University, March 2004: typescript), 16–18. The author kindly supplied me with the text of this paper. See also Panipeddi Chenchiah, A History of Telugu Literature (Calcutta, 1928), 23; E. Vasumati, Telugu Literature in the Qutub Shahi Period (Hyderabad, 1960) and V. Narayana Rao, ‘Kings, gods and poets, ideologies of patronage in medieval Andhra,’ in The Powers of Art: Patronage in Indian Culture, ed. Barbara Stoler Miller (Delhi, 1992), 142–59. 36 Wagoner in fact attributes his interest in Telugu literature to the time that Ibrahim spent at the Vijayanagara court rather than to a Kakatiya connection in ‘Emperor Ibharama,’ 14. 37 Ibid. See also Haroon Khan Sherwani, History of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty (New Delhi, 1974), 180–82; Wagoner, ‘Emperor Ibharama,’ 15, 18. 38 This is Wagoner’s suggestion in his discussion of the source for the plan of Hyderabad and the Telugu literary culture of the Qutb Shahi court, in ‘Emperor Ibharama.’ 39 One discussion of Ibrahim Adil Shah II in this regard can be found in Hutton, Art at the Court, 96–119. 40 Dublin, The Chester Beatty Library, In 2. Illus., and discussed by Linda York Leach, Mughal and Other Indian Paintings from the Chester Beatty Library, vol. 2 (London, 1992), 819–89. Phillip B. Wagoner discusses the role of this text in sultanate culture, though in a slightly different context, in ‘The Charminar as chaubara: cosmological symbolism in the urban architecture of the Deccan,’ in The Architecture of the Indian Sultanates, ed. Abha Narain Lambah and Alka Patel (Mumbai, 2006), 111. 41 Wagoner suggests this theory of convergence for the meaning behind the Charminar at Hyderabad, ‘Charminar as chaubara,’ 25, 29. 42 This is especially true at Golconda, but there might have been some physical feature on the west side of the fort which prevented the imposition of a more circular plan; the development of a suburb in that area, for instance, was thwarted in the sixteenth century. 43 Wagoner, ‘Warangal’s kirti-toranas,’ 109–12. 44 See Sherwani, History of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty, 179; for the use of ‘sultan’ on his tombstone, see Ghulam Yazdani, ‘Inscriptions in the Golconda Tombs,’ Epigraphia Indo-Moslemica (Calcutta, 1914–15), 28. 45 Sastry, The Kakatiyas, 51, 88–95; Talbot, Precolonial India in Practice, 128. 46 Derrett, The Hoysalas, 32–36. 47 See History of the Rise, vol. 1, xlv (the introduction runs xlv-lxiii). The thirty-five sources which Firishta claims to have consulted for his text are all in the Persian language and, from their titles, they all seem to have been written about Muslim dynasties in India. 48 Although in the past this had happened, and perhaps works such as al-Biruni’s in-depth study on India and its religious practices were still available; for one discussion of his treatise on India, see Carl Ernst, Eternal Garden: Mysticism, History and Politics at a South Asian Sufic Center (Albany, NY, 1992), 23–24. 49 Cynthia Talbot, ‘The story of Prataparudra: Hindu historiography on the Deccan frontier,’ in Beyond Turk and Hindu: Rethinking Religious Identities in Islamicate South India, ed. David Gilmartin and Bruce B. Lawrence (Gainesville, FL, 2000), 290–91, 295.


The Visual World of Muslim India 50 The content of this text is described in, among other sources, Talbot, ‘Prataparudra,’ 282–86. 51 Phillip B. Wagoner, ‘Harihara, Bukka, and the Sultan: the Delhi sultanate in the political imagination of Vijayanagara,’ in Beyond Turk and Hindu, 308–9. 52 Talbot, Precolonial India in Practice, 183–90. 53 Ibid., 198–99. 54 The text is discussed in Eaton, A Social History of the Deccan, 31. 55 Wagoner, ‘Harihara, Bukka, and the Sultan,’ 300–26. 56 Phillip Wagoner and Richard Eaton, ‘Architecture and contested terrain in the medieval Deccan: the Chalukyan revival in the sixteenth century’ (paper presented at Columbia University, New York, April 2006); parts of this argument are discussed in Eaton, A Social History of the Deccan, 94–99. 57 Talbot, ‘Prataparudra,’ 291. 58 See for instance Sastry, The Kakatiyas, and Talbot, Precolonial India in Practice, two histories of the Kakatiya period based largely on inscriptions. 59 Phillip B. Wagoner, ‘The Multiple Worlds of Amin Khan: Crossing Persianate and Indic Cultural Boundaries in the Qutb Shahi Kingdom,’ in Sultans of the South: Arts of India’s Deccan Courts, ed. Navina Najat Haidar and Marika Sardar (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011), 90–101. 60 Some of these oral histories are discussed in Talbot, Precolonial India in Practice, 202–4. 61 Other scholars who have studied the mechanisms of architectural transmission include Renata Holod, ‘Text, plan and building: on the transmission of architectural knowledge,’ in Theories and Principles of Design in Islamic Societies, ed. Margaret B. Sevcenko (Cambridge, MA, 1988), 1–12; Jonathan Bloom, ‘On the Transmission of Designs in Early Islamic Architecture,’ Muqarnas 10 (1993), 21–28; and Lionel Bier, ‘The Sasanian palaces and their influence in early Islam,’ in Pre-Modern Islamic Palaces, ed. Gülru Necipoğlu, Ars Orientalis 23 (1993), 57–66. 62 This date is given in S.K. Sinha, Medieval History of the Deccan, vol. 18 of the Andhra Pradesh Government Archaeological Series (Hyderabad, 1966). Wagoner and Rice identify the Qutb Shahi modifications to some buildings in ‘From Delhi to the Deccan,’ 78. 63 Sherwani, History of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty, 475. 64 Amir Khusraw, ‘Táríkh-i ‘Aláí,’ in The history of India as Told by Its Own Historians, the Muhammadan Period, ed. and tr. by H.M. Elliot and John Dowson, vol. 3 (London, 1871; repr. New York, 1966), 82–83. Ziauddin Barani, ‘Táríkh-i Fíroz Sháhí,’ ibid., 202. 65 Wagoner, ‘A dense epitome,’ 96–98. 66 Wagoner and Rice, ‘From Delhi to the Deccan,’ 75–88. 67 Ḥadīqatu’s-Salāṭīn, 184–86. Abdullah Ghouchani assisted me with this translation.


2 G olconda’s Mosqu es a nd Tombs Distribution, Chronology and Meaning1

—Robert Alan Simpkins—


he Golconda kingdom was established in the eastern portion of the Deccan in 1518, following the decline of the earlier and much larger Bahmani kingdom.2 The latter, at its maximum extent, controlled much of the Deccan for nearly two centuries before fragmenting into five smaller and independent polities. Former Bahmani ṭarafdār, or regional governor, Sultan-Quli initiated a ruling dynasty later known as the Qutb Shahs that continued until 1687, when their territory was absorbed into the Mughal Empire by Alamgir I and the last Qutb Shahi ruler, Abu’l Hasan, abdicated power. The initial centre for the kingdom was the fortress of Golconda, which still stands on the western edge of Hyderabad, the modern capital of Andhra Pradesh. The inner fort at Golconda contains the remains of numerous structures and rests on a high hilltop with a view of the surrounding plain. An extensive outer wall built c. 1560 by the fourth ruler, Ibrahim, enclosed the surrounding settlement. In 1591, the fifth ruler, Muhammad-Quli, established a new, unfortified capital across the Musi River to the southeast of Golconda, known as Hyderabad. This planned city contained extensive palaces, gardens, mosques and other structures. Although the new city continued to be occupied during the years of Mughal expansion in the mid-seventeenth century, the seventh ruler, Abdullah, retreated back to the walls of Golconda for his safety. During the entire era of this dynasty, the Qutb Shahi rulers were buried in a necropolis located north of Golconda Fort, which is presently maintained as a tourist attraction on state land. All but the final ruler have their tombs within this complex. 31

The Visual World of Muslim India

Research on the monuments of this kingdom began in the late nineteenth to early twentieth century under the Nizam and former Hyderabad State, with various monographs3 as well as numerous reports issued by the State Department of Archaeology under Ghulam Yazdani and others.4 These reports provided the foundation and historical context for research on the monuments of the kingdom, which then began to appear in the broader surveys of scholars of Indian architecture such as Percy Brown,5 and are now standard examples in similar modern surveys.6 These studies largely focus on the examples of the major structures in and around the city of Hyderabad, with little or no attention given to smaller or ruined structures in Hyderabad or elsewhere within their territory, which at its maximal extent roughly coincides with the boundaries of modern Andhra Pradesh. In addition, no extensive, systematic survey of these monuments has been published, although a team associated with the Centre for Deccan Studies began such an effort in selected areas around Hyderabad in the recent past.7 Among the best-known and most studied monuments of the kingdom are the tombs of the royal necropolis.8 Reports and guidebooks on these tombs emphasize certain structures on a regular basis.9 These include the tombs of the rulers SultanQuli (r. 1518–43), Jamshid (r. 1543–50), Subhan (r. 1550), Ibrahim (r. 1550–80), Muhammad-Quli (r. 1580–1612), Muhammad (r. 1612–26) and Abdullah (r. 1626–72), as well several additional tombs, including those of Nizamuddin, a son-in-law of Abdullah; Hayat Bakshi Begum, daughter of Muhammad-Quli, as well as wife of Muhammad and mother of Abdullah; Pemmati and Taramati, frequently described as concubines of Abdullah and Muhammad, respectively; Mirza Muhammad Amin, son of Ibrahim; Kulthum Begum; the twin tombs of the ḥakīms, or royal physicians; Muhammad, son of Sultan-Quli’s fourth son Qutbuddin; and Fatima Khanum, daughter of Abdullah.10 In addition, other structures in the complex are frequently noted, including the mortuary bath, said to have been built by Sultan-Quli; a large ‘īdgāh; and the large mosque built by Hayat Bakshi Begum near her own tomb. One commonly reproduced map shows sixteen tombs, the ‘īdgāh, large mosque and mortuary bath. Many tourist brochures identify fewer structures than this: the official booklet produced by the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Andhra Pradesh, for example, includes only nine tombs, the mosque and mortuary bath.11 Visitors to the state-owned site will note that there are actually many more structures within the main complex, most of which are mosques and tombs smaller than the main tombs, and lacking inscriptions. These do not appear on maps of the site, and although they are sometimes mentioned in passing in publications, to my knowledge they have never been systematically studied. One cannot avoid them while visiting the main tombs, as there are more of these structures than the larger and more famous 32



and lie unprotected as the landscape has developed rapidly with new housing.

of them in the background. Structures such as this, despite their large scale, have been virtually ignored

land of the Qutb Shahi Tombs complex. The distance from the other tombs can be estimated from the view

Figure 2.1  A large, ruined and unidentified tomb just outside the western boundary of the state-owned

ones, and the reason for their neglect by researchers is unclear. Most tourists only visit the structures within the walls built by Salar Jung I in the nineteenth century for the protection of the main tomb area, or those along the entrance road leading to the enclosed area, although the state-owned land extends beyond these walls and includes several more of these minor mosques and tombs, as well as other structures. Most notable among these, although not visible now, are the remains of a subterranean ‘summer palace’ reportedly built in the mid-sixteenth century and used throughout the dynasty.12 In addition, beyond the state-owned land even more mosques and tombs can be seen (Fig. 2.1), particularly further to the north. The rapid growth of Hyderabad in recent decades has led to extensive urban encroachment throughout this entire area. Indeed, the area immediately around the tombs themselves was endangered in the 1970s for this reason until new protections were established.13 The state of this area some three decades ago can be seen in the published photos of Thomas Luttge from

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* *

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1974, in which the landscape is quite barren and the few structures visible are those from the Golconda kingdom.14 Today, many of these same structures are often surrounded by new houses, or are even incorporated into them, making them difficult to access, much less examine. Any understanding of Golconda’s royal tombs must take into consideration these additional structures. Although we may not know who was buried in each tomb, or by whom each mosque was built, if they can be associated on the basis of style with specific rulers or periods through comparison with the dated structures, we can at least determine how many such structures were built during each period of the kingdom, where they were located, and possibly why they were located there. This may in turn clarify the pattern of growth of the necropolis area and its relationship to Golconda, Hyderabad and potentially other suburbs or neighbouring villages in the area, the existence of which is now forgotten. Placing these other structures into context alongside the larger and better-known ones may also provide a material indicator of the shifting fortunes of the kingdom, given that so many of the other structures have already been lost to the forces of warfare, neglect and subsequent urban development. Following an initial, exploratory visit to Hyderabad in 2003, I began planning a study to encompass these goals.

Research With the permission of the Government of India and the institutional support of Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University in Hyderabad, I conducted field research for my Ph.D. dissertation through the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia in 2006 and 2007. My focus was primarily on architecture associated with the kingdom along the main roads of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but in order to establish a basis of comparison among structures, I also examined the more well-known monuments within Hyderabad. During the period of my fieldwork, at selected intervals, I examined structures in the ‘royal necropolis’ area around Golconda Fort in Hyderabad. For the purposes of this analysis, the project area is defined as an approximately five-square-kilometre area extending north and east of the Banjara Darwaza entrance to Golconda Fort (the main fort entrance open on the north side of the fort), although mosques and tombs are also found outside this zone and in other directions. These other structures were documented as well, and will be described in future publications. The project area defined here features the greatest concentration of mosques and tombs; other structures are separated from them by 34

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a sufficiently large gap and lower concentrations that I felt this delineation was justified for a preliminary discussion. Only structures that could be associated with the period of Qutb Shahi rule on the basis of historical documentation, inscriptions or style were included in this survey. The survey consisted of traditional field reconnaissance in the form of an on-theground examination of the entire area, street-by-street, supplemented by examination of older photographs and drawings, previous archaeological and epigraphic reports, as well as other publications, and satellite imagery obtained via Google Earth. All structures were photographed and mapped with GPS and correlated with structures seen in previous photos and drawings, and linked to existing maps and satellite imagery. Due to additional information acquired after completing my fieldwork, I was also able to identify and document several more structures via proxy through the assistance of Mr. K. Ranga Reddy of Hyderabad. A master list of structures and a regional map was produced and used for subsequent analysis. Structures identified in the Project Area are represented in Fig. 2.2. Results from this analysis showed 107 total structures identified in the project area, including 44 mosques and 58 tombs, as well as five other types of structures. 60 of these were found on the state-owned land, leaving 47 on private land nearby. On the state-owned land, 20 mosques and 36 tombs were noted, as well as four other types of structures: a well, a caravanserai, the mortuary bath, the ‘summer palace’ (the ‘īdgāh was counted with the mosques). A closer view of the structures in this area can be seen in Fig. 2.3. Beyond this area, 25 mosques, 21 tombs and one other structure (a caravanserai) were identified. In this survey, the term ‘tomb’ refers to a free-standing stone structure enclosing one or more graves. Individual graves were not counted, as the survey was limited to buildings. All of the individual structures cannot be discussed in this brief overview, and a more complete description of the structures in this area is planned for a future publication. Several of the structures were noted previously in a report produced by Turaga for the Government of Andhra Pradesh, although this report is not widely available.15

Interpretation of results · Chronology Any interpretation of the land north of the fort and the evolution of the royal necropolis area requires at least a provisional chronology in order to understand the order in which structures were erected. Although several publications discuss the architectural style found within the Golconda kingdom, the topic has never been the subject of detailed 35

Figure 2.2  Entire Project Area north of Golconda Fort, with all structures identified. Conjectured villages are based

on the presence of standing architecture from that period; conjectured roads are based on alignments of structures

from that period. Major roads are presented as thicker lines. Minor roads, connecting smaller monuments, may be

local roads, or may continue outside the project area to unknown villages or more distant centres. MANIKONDA

TO ?







TO ?





TO ?

Present-Day Mumbai Road




BAGH-I-FAIZ AZAR (Conjectured)





Green = Other

Red = Mosque

Black = Tomb

= Possible 17th c. village = Possible 17th c. road

= Possible 16th c. road

= Possible 16th c. village






□ To Patancheru Gate (Golconda Fort)






dynasty of the Golconda kingdom. Some of the structures are outside the boundaries of the state-owned land.

14 Caravanserai

13 ‘Subterranean Palace’

12 Well


11 Subhan’s Tomb

10 Sultan-Quli’s Tomb

9 Jamshid’s Tomb

8 Ibrahim’s Tomb

7 Idgah

/ Boundary Wall built by Salar Jung I

6 Muhammad-Quli’s Tomb

□ 7

□ □

5 Mortuary Bath

□ 8


4 Muhammad Qutb Shah’s Tomb


3 Hayat Bakshi Begum’s Mosque


2 Hayat Bakshi Begum’s Tomb

□ □ □



□ □

1 Abdullah’s Tomb


□ □




□ 5





Key to Selected Structures:



Area of Bagh-i-Faiz Azar?

White Interior = Period 2



Banjara Gate (Golconda Fort)

Present-day Entrance to Tombs Complex


Yellow Interior = Period 1



Green = Other Structure


Red = Mosque

Black = Tomb

Golconda Necropolis (Qutb Shahi Tombs) CJ




Figure 2.3  Structures identified around the state-owned land for the Qutb Shahi Tombs, the royal necropolis for the

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research. I have elsewhere discussed this topic in more detail, as well as providing a preliminary chronology of the evolution of the architectural style associated with the Qutb Shahi dynasty.16 While commonly referred to as the ‘Qutb Shahi style,’ I have chosen – following the language adopted by George Michell – to17 refer to it as the ‘Golconda courtly style,’ as it is associated more broadly with the elites of the court of Golconda. Here, I will present a brief summary of the issue of defining this style, and how I applied this preliminary chronology to the structures included in this study. Most scholars attempting to define the Golconda courtly style have used a typological approach, selecting what they consider to be typical examples in an effort to define the style’s components. In an early study, Percy Brown asserted that the style consisted of ‘architectural and decorative elements chiefly of a florid order’18 and pointed to the tomb of Abdullah Qutb Shah in particular (d. 1672), as ‘one of the most characteristic of these royal tombs’(see Fig. 2.4).19 This is a hypothesis that needs to be tested, however, with a demonstration as to how one came to this conclusion. If

Figure 2.4  Tomb of Abdullah Qutb Shah (d. 1672), the largest of all the tombs in the Golconda necropolis. This tomb is frequently perceived as the archetypal example of Qutb Shahi architecture, although it is really the end of a long process of evolution.


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one begins inductively, by documenting the major architectural components of the best-known structures, which are principally the tombs of the kings of Golconda, a small number of mosques, and a few other structures, certain patterns emerge that suggest another view. Some tombs, such as those of Sultan-Quli (d. 1543) (Fig. 2.5) and Ibrahim (d. 1580), the first and fourth rulers of the dynasty, lack features found on most of the others, or contain simpler versions of them. Neither has a projecting cornice supported by brackets, and the parapet consists only of a simple row of merlons; in addition, the corners of the main structure lack minarets or columns that extend to the base of the structures, features commonly found on the other royal tombs. In addition, these two tombs bear the greatest degree of similarity to tombs found at the former Bahmani capitals of Gulbarga and Bidar and are usually seen as reflecting an adherence to the Bahmani style that contrasts with what is seen as the more ‘typical’ Golconda courtly style.

Figure 2.5  Tombs of Sultan-Quli, founder of the dynasty (d. 1543), and his grandson, Subhan, who briefly was placed on the throne as a child after the early death of his father Jamshid (d. 1550), and who vanished from the historical record after Jamshid’s brother Ibrahim assumed power later in 1550. Based on stylistic criteria, Subhan’s tomb is more likely to be a seventeenth-century construction.


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Understanding the emergence of this Golconda courtly style is complicated by the fact that the tomb associated with the second ruler, Sultan-Quli’s son Jamshid (d. 1550), is quite unlike that of his father or his younger brother Ibrahim. The tomb of Jamshid’s infant son, Subhan (d. 1550?), who was placed on the throne for a mere seven months before Ibrahim claimed authority,20 is similarly replete with features considered typical of the style. This has led some scholars like Michell and Zebrowski to state that the style ‘appears somewhat suddenly in the middle of the sixteenth century, as in the tomb of Jamshid.’21 Others have doubted whether Jamshid’s tomb can be a product of the mid-sixteenth century, and have argued that ‘it was probably not erected before the beginning of the seventeenth century.’22 My own preliminary analysis finds that these two tombs are most similar to structures dated by inscription to the mid-seventeenth century, which falls within the reign of Abdullah (1626–72). Neither, significantly, contains an inscription. The most parsimonious view, then, is that both structures are actually products of a later date, and that the tombs of Sultan-Quli and Ibrahim are the only ones that can be used to define the style of tombs at Golconda in the sixteenth century, at least up to Ibrahim’s death in 1580 (for the tombs of Sultan-Quli and Subhan, see Fig. 2.5). The tomb of Ibrahim’s nephew Mirza Muhammad Amin, located adjacent to his own on the same plinth, bears several similarities, but also possesses corner columns and minarets. Mirza Muhammad Amin died in 1596; in between these two dates, Muhammad-Quli came to power and founded the city of Hyderabad, where the towering Char Minar of 1591 contains several new architectural features found in later structures as well, and suggests that a major change in the language of architecture in Golconda occurred between Ibrahim’s death in 1580 and Muhammad-Quli’s founding of Hyderabad in 1591. With mosques as well, the examples seen as typical of the Golconda courtly style appear after the founding of Hyderabad, regardless of their actual location, and those that appear atypical of the style can be attributed to the reigns of SultanQuli or Ibrahim (no structures can be dated by inscription to the reigns of Jamshid or Subhan). The earlier mosques all lack rounded columns and high minarets with the (sometimes multiple levels of ) surrounding arcaded galleries that appear to be miniaturized versions of those found in the Char Minar. Some lack brackets under the cornice, but even where these appear, they are much simpler than those of later examples, and often long and narrow. Some monuments, like Mulla Khiyali’s mosque (1571) found today within the Naya Qila extension of Golconda Fort built by Abdullah, feature an ‘overlapping arch’ motif that would largely vanish later. This is also found inside Sultan-Quli’s tomb and may be a useful diagnostic marker for the 40

golconda’s mosques and tombs

Figure 2.6  Interior of the tomb of Sultan-Quli, showing the ‘overlapping arch’ and ‘tooth’ motifs found on other structures likely of sixteenth-century date. These motifs are just two of several that help date the other structures in the Project Area.

early period (Fig. 2.6). Both also contain a ‘tooth’ motif underneath the ‘overlapping arches.’ The use of both motifs then spans at least a few decades in the sixteenth century, possibly longer. Undated structures found throughout the city can be examined for the presence or absence of similar diagnostic features, but individual features alone cannot be a sufficient argument for assigning a date to a structure, as features may evolve independently of each other, return to favour, or coexist for years or decades. For this reason, in my examination I have looked at patterns or clustering of features when attempting to assign structures to a period on the basis of style alone. For example, a mosque on the south side of the state-owned land contains an unusual combination of features (Fig. 2.7). It is set on a large platform and contains very small minarets and no rounded columns extending to the ground level, as well as a row of overlapping arches above the parapet, teeth underneath them, and small brackets below the cornice. All these features make it very comparable to other known mosques of Ibrahim’s reign, and 41

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Figure 2.7  A well-preserved mosque on the south end of the complex on a large plinth. The mosque seems to have no inscription but, on the basis of stylistic features, is most likely from the second half of the sixteenth century.

as mentioned, the ‘tooth’ and ‘overlapping arches’ motifs are known during SultanQuli’s reign as well. However, it also possesses another feature not found on any dated structure from Ibrahim’s reign or earlier – a version of the arcaded gallery above the cornice also found on the Char Minar and Muhammad-Quli’s tomb (d. 1612). I suggest that it is an example of a transitional type, perhaps later than the dated examples from Ibrahim’s reign, but earlier than the dated mosques and tombs from Muhammad-Quli’s reign of the newer type. If the addition of the arcaded gallery on the parapet can be associated with Muhammad-Quli’s reign, perhaps this structure contains an early usage of it, before the other new conventions of mosque architecture were adopted, which would make its date somewhere between 1580 and 1591, although it could be from late in Ibrahim’s reign as well. The motif is significant because it is also found in several undated mosques outside in state-owned land within the Project Area. Although in the future I hope to refine my analysis to include several chronological subdivisions, for this preliminary study I have assigned structures to one of 42

golconda’s mosques and tombs

only two periods of Qutb Shahi rule. The first roughly correlates with the reigns of the first four rulers of the dynasty, and most likely ends somewhere between 1580 and 1591. In addition, it is difficult to rule out the possibility of structures that predate the traditional beginning of the dynasty, 1518, because Sultan-Quli had been present at Golconda since 1495 or 1496. Thus, the first period maximally may date to between 1495 and 1591, and minimally between 1512 and 1580. The second period’s beginning correlates with the reign of Muhammad-Quli and continues until the dynasty’s end under Abu’l Hasan. It thus begins somewhere between 1580 and 1591 and ends in 1687. For convenience, however, I will refer to the two periods generally as the sixteenth century (Period 1) and seventeenth century (Period 2). Compared to previous studies, the example of Abdullah’s tomb seems less the archetypal Qutb Shahi monument than the end product of a long development, the largest and most stylistically complex tomb that is in some ways the least typical example. The earlier point of view also tends to devalue the examples from the first period, and does not consider the possibility of unrecognized examples of early Golconda courtly architecture that might show it to be more variable than is currently acknowledged. To understand what is typical, one needs to study all of the examples available. Using the preliminary criteria identified as described above, I assigned each structure to a period, and then analysed the resulting maps (reproduced as part of Figs. 2.2 and 2.3). The preliminary results from this demonstrate two patterns: firstly, slightly more structures are found from the sixteenth century (59) than the seventeenth century (48); secondly, there are obvious differences in the spatial patterning of the structures, with the earlier structures clustering toward the western end of the complex, as well as several outliers north and west of this group, and the majority of the later structures being found on the east end of the main necropolis, but also beyond it to the north and east – although in different areas than those in the first group. These differences have implications for understanding the evolution of the necropolis and surrounding areas.

Analysis My interpretation of this patterning relates it to the history of the larger cultural landscape that includes not only the royal necropolis, Golconda Fort, and Hyderabad, but also any possible but now vanished suburbs and the routes that connected them and led from the core settlements to more distant centres. This patterning is what 43

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may help us see these individual structures as reflecting choices made by those who erected them in terms of their position as part of a society that related status to building and place.

Period 1 The earliest mosques and tombs form a small number of clusters that appear to be oriented along one major axis and a few minor axes. The major axis appears linked to the Patancheru Gate of Golconda Fort, and I suggest that this was the main gate used in the sixteenth century leading from the early fort. The outer fort walls themselves only date to around 1560 during Ibrahim’s reign, prior to which only the inner fort was walled. This means that the passage from Golconda to the north was visually quite different from 1496 to 1560 than it has been from 1560 to the present. After leaving the inner fort’s main entrance and passing the 1518 Jami Masjid built by Sultan-Quli, one would have travelled through the suburbs of the city northwest, passing south of the Katora Hauz built by Ibrahim, and by a small, early mosque found just inside the Patancheru Gate, before proceeding along a northerly path through the necropolis area. Note that no tombs are known within the walls of the outer fort. Near the earliest tombs, and just north of Sultan-Quli’s tomb, was the Bagh-i Faiz Azar, a garden that must have included the small, subterranean palace structure excavated in the late 1960s by the Department of Archaeology. Khan reported that this structure was in use throughout the dynasty, containing materials from both the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries;23 although it is not visible today, we must include it in our imagining of the landscape back then. On a hilltop in the distance, west of the fort, was a tomb-and-mosque complex that can still be seen, built for a person whose identity seems now forgotten. From the garden area, travellers would have had some options in their path. To the west, one finds a lone small mosque and a more distant tomb (not illustrated in this article’s maps) around the modern suburb of Puppalguda. I suggest that this was the first village stop while travelling on to Janwada, where another mosque of the early Golconda courtly style can be found, and possibly from there on toward Bidar. This path would mirror that followed in the seventeenth century by Jean de Thévenot,24 reflective of a relationship between the two cities that likely predates the Qutb Shahs, and may have developed in the Bahmani period; it also differs from the path of the modern highway. To the north, there are a few groups of structures that suggest one or a few outlying villages and potentially more than one path to take. In one path, after passing a group of eight tombs and four mosques that may reflect a village from the 44

golconda’s mosques and tombs

sixteenth century, after a short distance one would have passed another mosque near the seventeenth-century tomb of Husayn Shah Wali, before turning left near a tank and continuing on toward Patancheru, where two large tombs and two mosques from this period are still found, and which was likely a town of pre-Qutb Shahi significance, as indicated by the statuary from the site now hosted in the Hyderabad State Museum identified as Parsvanatha, Chaturmukha, Bahubali and Mahavir and dated to the twelfth century. This route may not have continued on to Bidar as it does today, since there is no evidence for architecture from this period in between these places, but would have led to other areas north of Patancheru, such as Kaulas, where the kingdom held a fort, and where a mosque of this period may also still be seen. Two mosques passing over a hill northeast from the larger cluster mentioned above suggest the way north, toward places such as Kukatpalli and later Medak, with its important fort. Two final groups include in one case three small tombs and a mosque, followed by a large tomb in modern Gulshan Colony, and in the other case two mosques in the east end of the current Qutb Shahi Tombs complex. These suggest small villages passed en route to places northeast, such as Moula Ali Hill, with its important ‘āshūrkhāna attributed to Ibrahim Qutb Shah, and more distantly, the forts of Bhongir, Eligandal and Warangal. Of the 23 tombs I am attributing to this period, only two can be linked to specific individuals – Sultan-Quli and Ibrahim. This raises the question of who the other tombs were built for. Without inscriptions, it is not possible to verify the identities of the individuals buried there or who commissioned the structures. Based on historical precedent, they are likely to have been members of the royal family, other highranking individuals in the court, or Muslim saints. Tombs near those of the kings are most likely to be members of the royal family or other elites, but those that are more isolated or removed from the royal necropolis are perhaps less likely. These are more likely to be tombs of saints. We know little of the patronage of saints by the early Qutb Shahi rulers, although it would not be unusual for the living saint to reside on the periphery of the main city, and for the act of tomb building to serve as a political statement by an early ruler or other important individual, as seems to have been the case in the seventeenth century where the identities of saints in the Golconda kingdom are better known.25 Given Sultan-Quli’s long reign at Golconda, perhaps he or others commissioned such structures even before his own tomb was built and became the focal point of the later structures, although this is obviously speculation. Regardless, many of these overlooked early tombs are quite substantial in size and reflect an important statement by the patron, as well as acting as significant markers on the landscape.


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Period 2 After the founding of Hyderabad in 1591, the spatial relationships among settlements in the vicinity must have changed. While the role of Golconda Fort between MuhammadQuli’s accession in 1580 and the formal establishment of the new capital in 1591 is not well documented, after this time, the fort became insignificant to the social elite until Abdullah moved his court back there in the face of Mughal incursions after 1656. For a half-century, then, Golconda Fort ceased to be important to the kingdom’s social life. How did this affect the building of mosques and tombs in this region? Based on my periodization, there appears to have been a continued building of new tombs and mosques in the original core of the royal necropolis, but in diminished frequency. There was an expansion to the northeast, where the largest tombs are found; the largest of all, that of Abdullah (Fig. 2.3), is also the furthest to the northeast. Beyond the core area, there are fewer structures, and none were added to the earlier clusters. This, I suggest, is because the sixteenth-century routes were no longer being favoured, and newer routes were being used that linked the necropolis to Hyderabad, but it also reflects a shift in the route taken through the necropolis area and on to more distant centres. The abandonment of earlier routes may also help explain the loss of tradition and memory regarding the tombs’ occupants. The largest seventeenth-century cluster of structures outside the main necropolis is in the village of Sheikhpet, and forms a Protected Monument popularly known as Sheikhpet serai (Fig. 2.8).26 A large mosque, a small mosque, two small tombs and a large, two-level structure presumed to have functioned as a caravanserai are found here within a modern enclosing wall. An inscription associates the mosque with the early reign of Abdullah (1633),27 although the associated structures were likely not all erected at the same time. Sheikhpet may have been the most important stop for travellers coming in and out of the city from the west, but it is likely not the only settlement in the area in the seventeenth century. A similar large mosque in the modern settlement of Gulshan Colony may mark another village of the time, roughly half a kilometre southeast from Sheikhpet, and along the same route toward Hyderabad. Another large mosque, associated with a much smaller, ruined mosque and tomb, can be found adjacent to the modern highway about a half a kilometre northeast of Sheikhpet. This group may indicate a road north toward Kukatpalli or other places further north such as Medchal and Medak. In my provisional chronology, the mosque additionally appears to be an example of the later phase of the kingdom, and if this is accurate, it may suggest a route that developed following the movement back to Golconda Fort later in Abdullah’s reign. 46

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Figure 2.8  Sheikhpet serai complex, north of Golconda Fort and the main necropolis area. Although some publications claim it dates to the sixteenth century, none of the extant structures appear to be from earlier than the reign of Abdullah in the mid-seventeenth century. It must have been an important stopping point coming and going from Golconda and Hyderabad. It is a protected monument and a boundary wall encloses the serai, as well as two mosques and two tombs. Similar structures in the area, however, do not have such protection.

Finally, the modern village surrounding Husayn Shah Wali’s dargāh may be the only settlement in the area north of the fort to have possessed a settlement that existed throughout the kingdom. Its early existence is reflected in two mosques in the area that are dateable to the sixteenth century (Fig. 2.9), but its function as a nexus of burial and pilgrimage may have begun in the seventeenth century, after Husayn Shah Wali himself died in 1620. Although the majority of structures in this village seem to postdate the kingdom and reflect later, continuing patronage of the tomb, Husayn Shah Wali’s own tomb and a small tomb across the lane, both of which seem to have an attached mosque, reflect the seventeenth-century core of this settlement: the grand scale of Husayn Shah Wali’s tomb would likely have made it visible from some distance. Clearly, in the seventeenth century and until the kingdom’s end, the land north of the tomb remained part of an important thoroughfare and continued to attract 47

The Visual World of Muslim India

Figure 2.9  A mosque in sixteenth-century style almost totally surrounded by modern buildings in the village of Hussain [Husayn] Shah Wali. The mosque is a few blocks from the dargāh area, and likely predates it but reflects perhaps an earlier settlement. Mosques such as this are at great risk without further protection (photograph by Mr. K. Ranga Reddy, Garuda Tourism).

new building, whether during the period in which Hyderabad remained the capital and base for the elite (1591–1656) or in the decades spanning Abdullah’s retreat to Golconda and Abu’l Hasan’s reign (1656–87), although the routes shifted during this time. To place the developments of the seventeenth century fully into context, however, we must also remember that other areas equally saw the erection of monuments and the development of settlements, and were also along important roads in the kingdom. There is far more evidence of such parallel development in the seventeenth century than in the sixteenth, and this can only be partially explained by the shift of the capital to Hyderabad. Tombs are found elsewhere in several locations, although the largest single concentration, at Daira Mir Momin south of the centre of Hyderabad, is certainly linked to the founding of Hyderabad itself. Thus not all individuals associated with the elite were buried in the royal necropolis area throughout the history of the kingdom. 48

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Conclusion Although further refinement of this analysis is possible, and some questions remain unanswered or unanswerable, what I hope to have shown through this study is the importance of documenting and analysing all structures in a landscape in order to understand individual ones, or selected groups. The attention given in previous research to structures that were the most historically well-attested, being associated with the major figures of the kingdom, has illuminated those structures individually, but not explained them in the context of a growing and evolving cultural landscape in which form and location were affected by the choices of previous individuals. As I hope to have shown, this landscape is not limited to the necropolis area: it comprises Golconda Fort, Hyderabad, all former suburbs and villages, and the roads linking them to each other and more distant settlements. The individual structures cannot be understood fully without reference to all these other influences, and thus any individual structure cannot be fully explained without knowing this larger landscape. As I have discussed, the monuments most often cited as comprising the necropolis monuments represent only a fraction (roughly 10–15 per cent, depending on the specific group) of the total corpus, and these are just within the ‘greater necropolis area’ itself. Additional isolated mosques and tombs are found throughout modern Hyderabad’s borders. For the structures not designated as protected monuments and not on public land, there is a great risk that they will be damaged, altered or lost – if they have not been already. Many mosques, for example, have been rebuilt using modern materials on the same site when the earlier structure was too damaged. Others have simply been shored up or expanded, the original elements being covered up and made invisible. Some structures have lost their original function and are used for residence, storage or livestock; some are even incorporated into new houses (Fig. 2.10). Hyderabad’s massive growth in recent years places all these structures in danger, before most of them have ever been studied. In my own research, I have attempted to document as many as possible, but given Hyderabad’s sheer size, there is no way for me to know how many more remain undocumented and undiscovered. The ancient landscape of Hyderabad becomes increasingly difficult to imagine due to rapid modern urban sprawl. The significance of these minor structures is not only in the architectural details each provides, which help clarify what the ‘Golconda courtly style’ is and how it developed, but also in their ability to reveal the ancient routes through these modern urban spaces that are becoming increasingly invisible. By locating, documenting and mapping them even as they lie hidden within dense modern residential areas, we can reconstruct the ancient road networks and try to identify the former 49

Figure 2.10  A tomb of the sixteenth-century type incorporated into a modern building just north of the main necropolis area. Ancient structures are inevitably damaged by such use, which can also cause the loss of their old stylistic motifs and the human remains they used to house.

golconda’s mosques and tombs

settlements. By extending such surveying and mapping to even more outlying areas, as I have been doing, the connections between locations can be established, and may lead to further discoveries. The neglected and endangered mosques and tombs of the Golconda kingdom then become meaningful by placing the often larger and better-known tombs into context, but also by showing the paths and connections earlier people used, and changed, over the course of their cultural and geographic history. The tombs in particular are significant because they are the final homes of the forgotten members of this kingdom. By documenting what the faceless elite chose to erect in memory of these fading shadows of Golconda, we may not resurrect their personal stories, but we can help restore for them their place in the cultural geography of Golconda.

Notes 1 The work described in this paper would not have been possible without the help of others. Institutions that provided assistance include: University of Wisconsin – Madison, Dept. of Languages & Cultures of Asia; San Jose State University, College of Social Sciences & Department of Anthropology; Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University, Hyderabad. People include: Joseph Elder, V. Narayana Rao, J. Mark Kenoyer, Phil Wagoner, John Fritz, George Michell, Omar Khalidi, Marika Sardar, Gijs Kruijtzer, M.A. Qaiyum, T. Gowrishankar, D. Munirathnam and V.K. Bawa. Special thanks go to Garuda Tourism, Ameerpet, Hyderabad, and Mr. K. Ranga Reddy, Srinivas Rao, and my drivers Raju and Pasha for assistance in the field, and the Athithi Inn in Hyderabad. Financial support was provided by the George Franklin Dales Foundation, the College of Social Sciences Research Fund at San Jose State University, and private contributions from my family. I would like to thank James Allan and Laura Parodi for the original opportunity to present this work at the conference Art, Patronage and Society in the Muslim Deccan from the Fourteenth Century to the Present Day, and Ainsley Cameron for logistical assistance during the conference. Pursuing all of this research and these opportunities over the years would not have been possible without the unconditional support of my family, whom I thank most of all. 2 Haroon Khan Sherwani, History of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty (New Delhi, 1974), 1–18. 3 Among these are: Syed Hossain Bilgrami and C. Willmott, Historical and Descriptive Sketch of His Highness the Nizam’s Dominions, vol. I (Bombay, 1883); Henry Cousens, Lists of Antiquarian Remains in His Highness the Nizam’s Territories (Calcutta, 1900); Syed Ali Asgar Bilgrami, Landmarks of the Deccan: A Comprehensive Guide to the Archaeological Remains of the City and Suburbs of Hyderabad (Hyderabad, 1927; repr. New Delhi, 1992). 4 Much of which is summarized in Syed Yusuf, Antiquarian Remains in Hyderabad State (Hyderabad, 1953). 5 Indian Architecture: Islamic Period (Bombay, 1956).


The Visual World of Muslim India 6 See for example Bianca Maria Alfieri, Islamic Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent (London, 2000); Elizabeth Schotten Merklinger, Sultanate Architecture of Pre-Mughal India (New Delhi, 2005); George Michell and Mark Zebrowski, Architecture and Art of the Deccan Sultanates, vol. 1.7 of The New Cambridge History of India (Cambridge, 1999). 7 Vasant Kumar Bawa et al., Architecture and Town Planning in the Medieval Deccan: The Kingdom of Golconda (Hyderabad, 2001); id., ‘Architecture in the Deccan – The Kingdom of Golconda,’ Deccan Studies 1/1 (2002), 59–67; Vasantha Shobha Turaga, Listing of Heritage Buildings and Sites in Hyderabad: Historic Landscapes of Golconda Fort and Environs (Hyderabad, 2002). 8 On which see Shehbaz H. Safrani, ‘Golconda Tombs: Architectural Marvels,’ in Golconda and Hyderabad, ed. Shebhaz H. Safrani (Bombay, 1992), 113–26. 9 See for example Usha Raman and Manorava Bargava, Hyderabad (Hyderabad, 1997). 10 Bilgrami, Landmarks, 112–84. 11 J. Kedareswari, The Qutb Shahi Tombs: A Companion Guide (Hyderabad, 2003). 12 Safrani, ‘Golconda Tombs,’ 111–15; Mohd. Abdul Waheed Khan, ‘Excavation of a Medieval Site near [sic] Qutb Shahi Tombs (Golconda),’ Islamic Culture 44/4 (1970), 227–31. 13 Safrani, ‘Golconda Tombs,’ 115. 14 In Thomas Luttge and Hans Winterberg, Golconda Hyderabad Architectural Heritage: Photos 1974/5 and 1996 (Bombay, 1999). 15 Turaga, Listing of Heritage Buildings. 16 Robert Alan Simpkins, ‘The Evolution of the Qutb Shahi Style’ (paper presented at the conference of the American Council for Southern Asian Art, San Francisco, CA, 2–4 March 2007); id., ‘The Road to Golconda: European Travelers’ Routes, Monuments, and Political Organization in the Golconda Kingdom (1518–1687)’ (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Wisconsin – Madison, 2011). 17 George Michell, The Vijayanagara Courtly Style: Incorporation and Synthesis in the Royal Architecture of Southern India, 15th–17th Centuries (New Delhi, 1992). 18 Brown, Indian Architecture, 71. 19 Ibid., 72 (emphasis added). 20 Sherwani, History of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty, 99–104. 21 Architecture and Art of the Deccan, 101. 22 Alfieri, Islamic Architecture, 160. 23 Khan, ‘Medieval Site,’ 227–31. 24 Described in Indian Travels of Thevenot and Careri, ed. Surendranath Sen (New Delhi, 1949), 115. 25 Richard Eaton, ‘The Court and the Dargah in the Seventeenth Century Deccan,’ Indian Economic and Social History Review 10/1 (1973), 50–63, has chronicled such a pattern at Gulbarga. 26 On this monument, see Unnati Reddy-Pringle, ‘Sheikpet Sarai – Golconda,’ INTACH Heritage Awards Annual 2003 (Hyderabad, 2003), 25–28. 27 Ziyaud-din A. Desai, A Topographical List of Arabic, Persian and Urdu Inscriptions of South India (New Delhi, 1989), 147.


3 Medieva l Ch au l u nder the Niz a m Sh a hs An Archaeological and Historical Investigation

—Pushkar Sohoni—

Introduction The coastal town of Chaul, located at the estuary formed by the Kundalika River and the Arabian Sea, is mentioned in several histories of the Indian medieval period with respect to the Bahmanis (1347–1538) and the Nizam Shahs (1490–1636). Several travellers, such as Nikitin, Barbosa and Varthema describe it in their accounts.1 In the fifteenth century, the capitals of the Bahmanis, at Gulbarga and later Bidar, were serviced largely by the seaports in their proximity such as Dabhol and Goa. Its proximity to the kingdom of Gujarat was a cause of concern,2 and might have led to its relatively limited use by the Bahmanis. However, Chaul was an important port for the trade routes into the northwestern Deccan, and served the Bahmani province (ṭaraf) of Daulatabad and Junnar. Since this province became the basis for the new independent state founded by Ahmad Nizam Shah in 1490, Chaul became the principal port of the Nizam Shahs. The natural changes in this area, which accelerated in the seventeenth century, caused the Kundalika River to be inundated with sediments, resulting in the formation of sandbars that completely choked the harbour. The transformation of the physical geography of this area and the rise in the sea level here have recently been proven quite conclusively using archaeological methods,3 and even earlier sources have commented on these environmental changes.4 In the seventeenth century, the presence of large numbers of pirates, coupled with transformed landscape, completely devastated 53

The Visual World of Muslim India


Modem '\\ ..Revadanda

Caravansarai on the other side of pass


I A N .. ···-·••y-'.







, ..

.. _1-'"'-



Medieval Settlement KUNDALIKA RIVER







Figure 3.1  Map showing medieval Chaul with the location of its extant buildings.

the importance of Chaul as a port of trade.5 The sack of the town by Shivaji Bhonsale in the 1660s was conclusive and resulted in a declining population.6 The sixteenth century was therefore the last significant occupation of the town as a trading port.7 The decline of Chaul thus parallels the end of the Nizam Shah dynasty in 1636 and the rise of Surat as a mercantile port in the seventeenth century. Today Chaul is largely an agricultural town, and the altered natural landscape has resulted in a settlement shift: the historically inhabited areas close to the harbour have all been turned into areca and coconut plantations. The new habitation is situated in what would have been considered the periphery of the historic town (Fig. 3.1). The only architectural studies of Chaul, to date, have been limited to the Portuguese fortified settlement of Revadanda, which controlled the harbour of Chaul.8 A caravanserai, a mosque, a bath and a tomb are the only significant physical ruins that 54

medieval chaul under the nizam shahs

allow a reconstruction of the extent and location of medieval Chaul under the Nizam Shahs. These extant buildings dateable to the reign of the Nizam Shahs provide a partial description of the physical fabric of this once prosperous town. Archaeological excavations provide some evidence to corroborate the historical descriptions of the settlement. This essay is an attempt to plot the few extant structures on an integrated map in order to provide some information on the nature of this settlement in the sixteenth century. In this research, the archaeological evidence and historical sources are used together to better understand late medieval Chaul.

Historical background Chaul became very important as a port under the Nizam Shahs because it was the only large port that they controlled, their only major source of trade and their sole point of cultural interaction with other countries of the Indian Ocean. The port was at its greatest in the middle of the sixteenth century, when the Nizam Shahs and the Portuguese were largely at peace. Portuguese Chaul (Revadanda) and Chaul of the Nizam Shahs (referred to as upper Chaul, later occasionally as Muhammedan Chaul (sic)) were twin settlements, both with prospering trade. Upper Chaul was noted for manufacturing apart from just the trade; woodwork and weaving were particularly important.9 The period between the 1530s and the 1570s was the most peaceful and profitable period of commerce for both the Portuguese and the Nizam Shahs. The beginning and the end of the sixteenth century saw some of the most important battles for the control of Chaul. The earliest was in 1508, when the Governor of Diu appointed by the Sultan of Gujarat, along with the naval forces sent by the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt, the Zamorin of Calicut, and the Deccan sultanates (Nizam Shah and Adil Shah), jointly defeated the Portuguese off the coast of Chaul.10 In 1509, the Portuguese avenged this loss, and Burhan Nizam Shah I (r. 1509–53) signed a treaty with them, as a condition of which a Portuguese factor was to be appointed at Chaul.11 In 1516 the Portuguese were allowed to build a factory at Chaul as per a treaty between the Portuguese governor Lopo Soares de Albergaria and Burhan Nizam Shah I.12 In 1521, Chaul was attacked by a fleet from Bijapur. As a result, Burhan Nizam Shah I allowed the Portuguese to build a fort at lower Chaul, close to the sea, as a defence against the naval forces of the Adil Shah. The Portuguese factor of Chaul, Fernão Camello, was not only granted permission to build a fort, but actually encouraged by Burhan Nizam Shah I to do so, for reasons of the latter’s rivalry with the Sultan of Gujarat.13 This Portuguese fort (Revadanda) was completed in 1524 despite attacks 55

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by Malik Aiyaz of Diu. Gujarati ships aided by Turkish forces attacked in 1528, and it was the joint forces of the Nizam Shah and the Portuguese that repelled this attack.14 In 1557, after the accession of Husayn Nizam Shah I (r. 1553–65), the Portuguese proposed that the hill of Korlai be ceded to them. Husayn Nizam Shah I not only refused, but instead sent his officers to build a fort on the promontory of Korlai. The Portuguese resisted and it was eventually decided that none would fortify that point, which strategically controlled the entrance to the harbour. In 1570–71, the forces of Murtaza Nizam Shah I (r. 1565–86) tried to lay siege to Portuguese Chaul, but their attempt failed miserably and they had to sue for peace. The Portuguese strengthened their fortifications, and when Burhan Nizam Shah II (r. 1590–95) tried to build a fort at Korlai, the Portuguese crossed the bay and captured the fort. By this time, the Nizam Shahs were trying to hem in the Portuguese by building a fort on the western spur of land, so as to control the passage of ships to the harbour at Revadanda. By the end of the sixteenth century, the Portuguese had a virtual monopoly on the trade in the Arabian Sea. They controlled the independent traders by issuing passes (cartazes) to all the ships plying the area. Ships were not allowed to trade unless approved of by the Portuguese authorities. The supply of war-horses from the Middle East, so crucial for the warring factions in the Deccan, was thus guarded by the Portuguese, and this was an important reason for the Nizam Shahs to declare peace with them for a long period.15 The Portuguese were also considered useful allies against Bijapur and Gujarat, and a treaty to that effect was signed by the Nizam Shah and the Portuguese.16 The Mughals under Akbar captured and controlled Chaul briefly in 1600 when they laid siege to the city of Ahmadnagar.17 Then in 1609, an attempt to capture Portuguese Chaul was made by the Nizam Shah’s forces.18 In the early seventeenth century, Malik Ambar (the regent for the Nizam Shahs) and the Portuguese signed a peace treaty. After 1631, Chaul declined with the rise of Surat, the Portuguese losses at Hormuz, the fall of the Nizam Shahs and the arrival of the Mughals and the English. It was briefly captured by the forces of Bijapur, who handed it over to the Mughals.19 Chaul never recovered as a major trading centre and the city was described as a ruin as early as 1672.20

Historical sources Chaul has been mentioned by travellers since the early Greeks, and was referred to by Ptolemy as Simylla.21 Many medieval Arab geographers and merchants have also 56

medieval chaul under the nizam shahs

left us with descriptions of ‘Sheool’ or ‘Saimur,’22 but the first credible source for our period of study (beginning in the late fifteenth century) was the Russian trader Afanasy Nikitin.23 Nikitin described the people and the customs of the country around ‘Chivil,’ under the administration of Mahmud Gawan, but did not leave behind any description of the town. Ludovico Varthema, a Bolognese merchant, visited ‘Cevul’ around 1506. Very similar to Nikitin’s description, most of the people are described as going around almost naked, except for some of the ‘Moorish’ merchants. He also mentioned Chaul as possessing a very beautiful river, along which foreign vessels plied.24 He described the King of Chaul as a pagan, suggesting an identity for the governor of the town in this period.25 Cesar Frederici, a Venetian merchant, came to Chaul in 1563. His descriptions confirm the location of the Chaul of the Nizam Shahs and of Portuguese Chaul.26 The most valuable descriptions of the port are by Pietro Della Valle, who visited Chaul in 1623 and 1625.27 He described the Chaul of the Nizam Shah in some detail. He described two ways to get from Revadanda to Chaul; the longer way from Revadanda to Chaul was by a winding road through meadows, palm trees and forests (much the same as today), and a shorter passage by means of a small boat across the small tongue of water: I went to view a Town of the Moors, subject to Nizam Sciah, and his Governor Melik Ambar, and because near Ciaul, call’d Ciaul di Riba, that is, Upper Ciaul. The way leading to it is fair and handsome, amongst Groves of Palms and other Fruit-trees, and it stands on the same bank of the River more Northwards with Ciaul of the Portugals. ’Tis a large town well inhabited both by Moors and Gentiles, specially near the Bazar or Market-place, where the shops afford plenty of things necessary… Beyond the Bazar, the Houses stand not so close together, but scatter’d here and there, amongst Gardens, or rather woods of Palmes and other Fruit-trees, which are very thick, tall and handsome, affording shadow to the streets all the way, which are broad, long, green and very delightful. The Moors for the most part dwell near the Bazar towards the River, which passes not far off, and is navigable seven or eight leagues upwards; Here also the Mahometans have their Meschita’s, hot baths (which the gentiles use not, because they wash themselves publickly in their cisterns), and places of Sepulture; a Dogana, or Customhouse; and lastly, a Divan, or Court of Justice, and what-ever belongs to their Government. Most of the Gentiles, who are 57

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the greatest part, live in Houses remote from the Bazar, amongst Gardens and Trees, where in several places they have sundry temples of their Idols.28 These descriptions perfectly fit the physical evidence of the settlement that we can recover today. They leave no doubt as to the position of the port of Chaul, at the place referred to as upper Chaul. From these descriptions, we can infer that the town consisted mainly of the port and the market, and we can corroborate this account with the locations of the extant market, bath and mosque.

Physical evidence Although there have been significant changes in the creek at Chaul, obfuscating the exact location of the docks and jetties, there is adequate physical evidence to conjecture the layout and site of the town. There are some remains along what would have been the riverbank. These are in the form of an embankment and some fortifications, the mosque at the southwestern corner and the hammam not too far off. A mound dotted with several graves is also in the area where the historic town was located.29 Other miscellaneous structures, such as a store (perhaps a granary), and a few stray walls of the port commander’s quarters (locally called Rajkot) also survive. On the ancient and medieval road inland from Chaul are a tomb and a caravanserai. All these structures of medieval Chaul are described in some detail below, followed by the archaeological evidence uncovered through excavations.

Caravanserai The caravanserai in Chaul is on the old road travelling inland from the town. This ancient road would have been the only significant route connecting Chaul with the hinterland of the Deccan, and had been used since early Buddhist times (c. 200 BCE to 200 CE).30 This is borne out by geographical surveys, which indicate that the larger river basin and associated marshes would have made this the easiest path to travel inland to the east (where the larger commercial and production centres of the northern Deccan, viz. Junnar, Daulatabad, Paithan, etc. were located). This road passes through a natural barrier of hills separating the town from the caravanserai. This was an ideal location for a building complex that housed itinerant merchants and travellers, as it was isolated from the town. The caravanserai was also provided with its own source 58

medieval chaul under the nizam shahs

of water in the form of a small natural pond behind, isolating it from the town and keeping it self-sufficient. The building is now locally called kalawantinicha mahal (‘courtesan’s palace’ in Marathi), but the layout and location leave no room to entertain this label as historically accurate. Besides, the hamlet located a few hundred metres from this site is called Sarai, corroborating the early function of this site as a caravanserai. A direction-stone, with the names and directions to neighbouring towns (not an uncommon feature under the later Nizam Shahs, especially Burhan Nizam Shah II)31 was found close to the site,32 and is in conformance with the role of this structure as a caravanserai. The caravanserai is of fairly large dimensions (the enclosure wall contains an area of approximately 60x45 m), with two major extant structures: a block of rooms at the front (east) and a similar but smaller set of vaulted spaces along the rear (west) wall. The enclosure wall survives, and the arcaded spaces that ran along its inside are obvious from the ruins (Figs. 3.2, 3.3). The central room on the western side has a prayer niche, but this alone is not adequate to accord this building the primary function of a mosque; this building does

_llll!!!IIPI...,. .......... ..,. ,.......,...,...~. a






a Cl Cl


• • •



------ rn +---C>~




Figure 3.2  Plan of the caravanserai just outside medieval Chaul.

The Visual World of Muslim India

Figure 3.3  The eastern entrance pavilion of the caravanserai with remnants of the peripheral columns in the foreground.

not have any of the other details required of a mosque in this period and region. The east block of rooms forms the entrance to the complex. Although the architectural programme of a travellers’ station is universal, the form of a caravanserai is itself a Middle Eastern idea. The relevance of the town as a large trading port in the sixteenth century would have necessitated a caravanserai of these dimensions for itinerant traders. The patterns and scale of the vaulting are characteristic of the Nizam Shahs, as also the planning modules for the staircase. Similar construction is found at sites around Ahmadnagar, such as Manzarsumbah (called Manjareshna in the Burhān-i Ma’āthir)33 and the Lakkad Mahal in the Hasht Bihisht complex.

Mosque The mosque is located on raised ground on the peninsula of Chaul, visible from what would have been the harbour (Figs. 3.4, 3.5). It would have presented an impressive sight for the merchants and traders on the ships, with its large bulbous dome and grand scale. It is now in fairly ruinous condition, with only parts of the 60

Figure 3.4  Plan and conjectural elevation of the mosque.

Elevation (Part conjectural) MIHRAB

Low wall

• • • • • • Plan (Part conjeClural)




Figure 3.5  A view of the mosque from the southeast.


The Visual World of Muslim India

Figure 3.6  Wooden dowels in the carved stone voussoirs of the mosque's arches.

building still standing. The original mosque was a structure five bays wide and three bays deep, each bay carrying a dome. The central dome in this structure rises high and is the visual focal point. The other shallower domes are not visible on the top of the flat roof. It is reported that the mosque was badly damaged by Portuguese cannon, and ‘the western side and the minarets’ were totally ruined.34 One of the minarets survives in decent condition, but is completely overgrown with roots and creepers. The architectural minutiae in the mosque’s construction are very typical of the period of the Nizam Shahs, when it was not uncommon for imported design ideals to be realized by local guilds and craftsmen, leading to some rather odd details. One such detail is the use of structurally redundant wooden dowels in the true arches (Fig. 3.6), almost as a suggestion of discomfort with the arcuated system of the building. But the elevation suggests stylistic connections with Bijapuri architecture, most notably in the bulbous dome that was rarely, if ever, built under the patronage of the Nizam Shahs. 62

medieval chaul under the nizam shahs

Preliminary investigations reveal that the mosque was built in at least two phases. A tomb was added to the east of the mosque, as also a set of rooms on the north. The tomb stands alone, detached from the mosque, but the additional rooms are integrated into the structure. There are two unpublished inscriptions on the tomb (Figs. 3.7, 3.8).35 One of the inscriptions begins with the name of the ruler, which appears to be Burhan Nizam Shah. This could refer to either Burhan Nizam Shah I (r. 1508–53) or Burhan Nizam Shah II (r. 1591–95). An early medieval pond on the eastern side of the structure is connected to the mosque with a flight of steps, and the source of fresh water might have been a major consideration for constructing this large mosque on that spot. Figure 3.7  The large inscription on the small tomb in front of the mosque.

Figure 3.8  The smaller inscription on the tomb.


The Visual World of Muslim India









0 p


Plan Q

5 m





Figure 3.9  Plan of the hammam.

Hammam The hammam is a common structure in many Nizam Shahi contexts.36 Such public baths were usually located in market settings, with part of the hammam structure comprising a row of shops (Figs. 3.9, 3.10, 3.11). An early suggestion by Henry Cousens that this structure was used ‘as a luxurious retreat in the warm weather’37 could be dismissed, and the arrangements within for heating water, as also the traditional setting of such a bath in a market leave no doubt about its function. This hammam is comparable in scale and layout to another one built by the Nizam Shahs in the Ambarkot area of Daulatabad. The latter hammam is precisely dated on the basis of an inscription. In 64

Figure 3.10  An interior view of the innermost room in the hammam. The floor has collapsed, revealing the system of water circulation in the plinth.

The Visual World of Muslim India

Figure 3.11  A second view of the hammam.

both the hammams are cisterns for heating and storing water, and elaborate mechanisms for distribution. At Chaul, it is impossible to determine the water-supply mechanism for this building because of the densely cultivated coconut and areca groves within which it is now 66

medieval chaul under the nizam shahs

situated. There is a well adjacent to the bath, and it is very likely that it was adequate to provide water for the hammam. However, the area contains a fair number of fresh water sources, and it is conceivable that water was lifted from one or more of these wells. The floor of this hammam was reportedly paved with marble flagstones, which are no longer to be found.38 The row of shops on the street face of the structure would have faced the market area, and one of the shop openings is the public entrance for the bath, a design not uncommon for public hammams.39 Upon entering via this access, one comes into a grand room with a domed ceiling, containing an octagonal khazīna (storage room). This room leads to two other chambers, both of which have small bathing pools and connected systems for drawing water of different temperatures. Its layout, scale and context prove that it was a public bath, a judgment in concordance with the descriptions of early travellers.

Tombs On the way to the caravanserai from Chaul is a beautiful tomb, built with dressed stone (Figs. 3.12, 3.13). It was decorated with lime plaster that has not survived in its entirety. The ground inside has been dug up, and it is therefore impossible to determine who was once buried there. It is currently being used as a rubbish dump. Architecturally,

Plan ~,_I 1 O






TOMB AT CHAUL Figure 3.13  A view of the tomb.

Figure 3.12  Plan of the tomb.


The Visual World of Muslim India

Figure 3.14  Remains of the ‘storage room.’

it is very similar to the tombs built under the Bahmanis and the early Nizam Shahs, especially in some of the decorative details, like the carved jamb corners.

Miscellaneous structures Back in the old town of Chaul, the citadel Rajkot now exists only as two ruinous walls. Even in 1916, this structure was described as beyond repair, comprising no more than a few barely standing walls overgrown with vegetation.40 Another enigmatic structure (Fig. 3.14) that can only be described as a storehouse of some sort is located along the old waterfront, set inland by a few hundred metres from what would have been the levee. Between the river and this structure are a couple of arches, with no other context around them. This ‘storehouse’ has very narrow rooms and is roofed with semi-circular vaults. The plaster is in fine condition where the building survives, and might be the result of better finishes used for storage areas, as seen in an anbārkhāna in the Kalakot of Daulatabad. 68

medieval chaul under the nizam shahs

Along the bank of the Kundalika River (approximately a kilometre from the present bank) is an embankment wall, which runs a length of more than 300 metres.

Archaeological data Archaeological explorations and excavations at Chaul have been carried out since 2003 by teams from the Deccan College and Post-Graduate Institute.41 The main aim was to recover the archaeological evidence of the ancient trade mentioned in various texts. The work conducted so far has been successful in that objective. The recovered ceramics and antiquities confirm the literary record. The site of Chaul has revealed evidence of trade in three phases of Indian history: the early historic (500 BCE – 500 CE), the early medieval (500 CE – 1300 CE) and the late medieval periods (1300 CE – 1700 CE).42 Evidence of trade was noticed through all these periods. Pottery belonging to the Roman world, especially amphorae, were discovered during the excavations. The types belong to the early centuries of the Christian era. Similarly, ceramic types such as the Turquoise Glazed Ware of the eighth-ninth centuries and Hatched Sgraffiato Ware of the tenth-twelfth centuries, which were manufactured in the Persian Gulf region, were also recovered from the excavations. From the later medieval period, most of the ceramic assemblage comprises the Chinese blue and white porcelain and Monochrome Ware (Fig. 3.15). The blue and white ceramics are very densely and ubiquitously scattered in the area between the mosque and Rajkot. The evidence of trade in this period is further corroborated by various antiquities such as glass microbeads, Indo-Pacific beads, large amount of glass bottles and debitage, ivory chunks and so forth, all of which were essentially items of trade in the medieval period. In the 2008 season, the walls of a small structure were traced on top on the hill that controls the pass between the historic town and the caravanserai. Unfortunately, as with the other trenches, there were space constraints that did not allow the complete structure to be recovered. The other excavation trenches were all within a kilometre of the present riverbank. It was noticed during the preliminary explorations that as one starts moving away from the river the evidence of ancient and medieval habitation decreases. Hence, it can be inferred that during the later medieval period, the small activity area was centred around the western end of the river, and that the existence of Chaul in this phase was also largely dependent on the trade network fed by its harbour.


The Visual World of Muslim India

Figure 3.15  The typical blue-and-white Chinese porcelain recoverable from the site in large quantities. Note the shard at bottom right, which is a local imitation of the Chinese wares.

Conclusion The town of Chaul under the Nizam Shahs was settled in the area now completely under coconut and areca plantations. The few extant buildings allow us to piece together a picture of a settlement on the peninsula of Chaul, inland from the Arabian Sea in the estuary of the Kundalika River. We know from medieval historic sources that this area was called upper Chaul (being upstream on the Kundalika River) as opposed to the Portuguese Chaul (Revadanda) by the sea. The physical town itself was a navigable port on the north bank of the Kundalika River separated from Revadanda by a thin tongue of water on the west, and on the east were marshes. The north was guarded by hills, and the pass through these hills was a controlled point of access to the town. To the south was the harbour, and beyond the bay was the southern bank of the Kundalika River that led to the fort of Korlai. 70

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An inscription at Kanheri from the sixth century referred to the donation made for the cave complex by a goldsmith from Chaul.43 The existence of a professional goldsmith resident at Chaul, wealthy enough to endow a grant for a remote religious complex, suggests a very different pattern of settlement in the early historic period. Large numbers of temple fragments (some of them in situ) from the early medieval period in this area confirm the density of the settlement at that time. However, the later medieval period had settlement patterns that were significantly different.44 The medieval Chaul of the Nizam Shahs was certainly on the same site as that ancient Chaul, as proven quite conclusively by the continuous archaeological evidence of trade goods and built structures. Most of the active temples in Chaul today are of a late medieval origin and on the margins of the historic town, suggesting that there was a shift in temple settlements in the sixteenth century towards the fringes of the port town. This is corroborated by accounts of Chaul by travellers in the sixteenth century when they describe the location of the settlements of the gentiles (sic) on the outskirts of town. The part of the town that had the semblance of an urban centre was divided into mercantile and administrative sections. The palace complex of the Governor of Chaul under the Nizam Shah was located at the eastern end of the settlement with fortified walls, in the area called Rajkot. The market and the public quarter were on the western end of town, where the mosque and the hammam are located. Chaul probably did not have a large resident population in this period, and the local economy in the surrounding area was still largely agrarian, with fruit groves and plantations, as noted by the travellers’ accounts. Chaul could then be described essentially as a cantonment town in a port controlling maritime commerce that did not necessarily benefit most of the local population. The town was described by Barbosa in 1514 as more of a fair or carnival than a city,45 and the lack of archaeological recovery of large dense settlements over a large part of Chaul confirms this description. There are no travellers’ descriptions of the grandeur or the urban character of Chaul. In fact, the relatively austere and poor lifestyle of the people was worth a commentary for many of the travellers.46 The character of this town may also be extrapolated from a letter written by Albuquerque, the Viceroy of Goa, to the King of Portugal, in which he suggested in the same sentence that Danda and Chaul were the two important places on the western seaboard that the Portuguese should capture. Danda was described as a beautiful town with palaces, and Chaul received no such praise,47 suggesting that the latter was not a real urban centre in this period, but a trading port and a strategic node with only a few local residents involved in its commercial activities. 71

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Under the Nizam Shahs, the settlement was only a commercial and military base, and the involvement of the local residents was limited to the basic labour force needed for seasonally running a port town. All the archaeological evidence and the historic descriptions of medieval Chaul in the sixteenth century indicate a seasonal place of exchange, a market in a true sense without most of the paraphernalia of a city with a large wealthy residential population. This is in agreement with the thesis presented by André Wink that many Indian towns and cities in the medieval period were largely labile.48 Chaul as a trading port was even more so, because its raison d’être was commerce, and this was an activity that could be facilitated only seasonally.49 The military function of the town was also only seasonal, in part because most of the troops were only part-time soldiers. Thus, it would not be unreasonable to suggest that important port towns in this period were not necessarily thriving urban areas, at least not throughout the year, and Chaul provides a good historical and archaeological model towards understanding such settlements. Perhaps, our comprehension of the nature of other towns in this period needs to be revised along similar lines. The relatively small area of permanent habitation in the Chaul of the Nizam Shahs provides a very rich archaeological site with potential for further exploration.

Notes 1 Afanasy Nikitin, Duarte Barbosa, Ludovico Varthema, Francois Pyrard, William Keeling (captain of the third voyage of the British East India Company), Pietro Della Valle, Cesar Frederici all left accounts of Chaul, from the late fifteenth to the early seventeenth centuries. 2 In the Mīrāt-i Aḥmadī by Ali Muhammad Khan, tr. Sir E.C. Bayley as The Local Muhammedan Dynasties: Gujarat (London, 1886), Danda-Rajpuri, south of Chaul, is mentioned as a sarkār of the Gujarat ṣūba. The sultans of Gujarat mentioned this port as their tributary, though those claims can be regarded largely as rhetorical. Also see the Mīrāt-i Sikandarī, ed. S.C. Misra and M.L. Rahman (Baroda, 1961), 147–48, where incursions into Mahim and Jeul (sic) by the sultans of Gujarat are mentioned as raids. 3 V. Gogte, ‘The ancient port of Chaul,’ Journal of Indian Ocean Archaeology 3 (2006), 62–80. 4 Joseph Gerson da Cunha, Notes on the History and Antiquities of Chaul and Bassein (Bombay, 1876), 4. 5 Maharashtra State Gazetteers: Kolaba District (revised edition), vol. 11 of the Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency (Bombay, 1964), 728. The pirates were allegedly so great in number that even Portuguese battleships were afraid of any potential confrontation. 6 Gazetteer, 732.


medieval chaul under the nizam shahs 7 Gazetteer, 734. Chaul does get mentioned as a ‘considerable seaport… in 1781’ in the Gazetteer, but that account is unsubstantiated and at odds with the evidence. 8 da Cunha, Antiquities; Gritli von Mitterwallner, Chaul: eine unerforschte Stadt an der Westküste Indiens (Wehr-, Sakral- und Profanarchitektur) (Berlin, 1964). 9 Gazetteer, 727. 10 Shaykh Zaynuddin, Tuḥfatu’l-Mujāhidīn, tr. by M.J. Rowlandson as Tohfut-ul-mujahideen (London, 1833), 92–93; Gazetteer, 24–29. 11 da Cunha, Antiquities, 34. 12 Ibid., 34–36; P.M. Joshi, ‘The Portuguese on the Deccan coast: sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,’ Journal of Indian History 46/1 (April 1968), 83. 13 da Cunha, Antiquities, p. 35. The terms of the treaty also stipulated the supply of horses by the Portuguese to the Nizam Shah; Joshi, ‘The Portuguese,’ 84. 14 da Cunha, Antiquities, 39. 15 Joshi, ‘The Portuguese,’ 65–88. 16 da Cunha, Antiquities, 84: ‘This was reflected in the repeated treaties of friendship between Goa and Ahmadnagar, in the help given by the former to the sultanate in its conflicts with Gujarat and in the complete absence of any warlike atmosphere between them during the lifetime of Burhan I.’ 17 Gazetteer, 727. 18 da Cunha, Antiquities, 63. 19 Gazetteer, 729. 20 da Cunha, Antiquities, 67. For the decline of Chaul, see L.B. Kenny, ‘Antiquity of Chaul as a medieval port of Konkan,’ in Essays in Maritime Studies, ed. B. Arunachalam, vol. 2 (Mumbai, 2002), 129–35. 21 Gogte, ‘Ancient port of Chaul,’ 62; da Cunha, Antiquities, 7–11. 22 Tuḥfatu’l-Mujāhidīn, 92; Gazetteer, 718; da Cunha, Antiquities, 7. 23 Afanasy Nikitin, Voyage beyond Three Seas 1466–1472 (Moscow, 1985). 24 The travels of Ludovico Varthema, tr. John Winter Jones (London, 1863), 114. 25 Ibid. 26 The voyage and trauaile of M. Ceasar Frederick, merchant of Venice, into the East India, the Indies, and beyond the Indies, tr. Thomas Hickock (London, 1588). 27 Gazetteer, 78–79. 28 The Travels of Sig. Pietro della Valle, a Noble Roman, into East-India and Arabia Deserta (London, 1665), 224–25 [Letter IX from Mascat dated January 19, 1625] 29 This mound is also noted in the Gazetteer, 750, as being a mile south of Bhagvati Devi’s temple, close to a pond called Pokharn. 30 Gogte, ‘Ancient port of Chaul.’ 31 K.A. Kadiri, ‘Some more direction-stones of the Nizam Shahi dynasty,’ in Epigraphia Indo-Moslemica 1970 (published 1975), 48–49.


The Visual World of Muslim India 32 This direction-stone has not been located but, based on local inquiries, the author did track it down to that location. 33 Burhān-i Ma’āthir by Syed Ali Tabataba’i (Delhi, 1936), 542–43. 34 da Cunha, Antiquities, 113. 35 These inscriptions are mentioned in the Gazetteer, 751, and speculative translations and dates have been presented. However, the inscriptions themselves remain unpublished. The Annual Report of Indian Epigraphy, 1959–60 (Calcutta, 1963), 149, refers to two illegible and damaged inscriptions at the mosque in Chaul, explaining that the actual tablets could not be located, and only the older estampages had survived. D.R. Bhandarkar, in Progress Report of the Western Circle of the Archaeological Survey of India: Archaeology (1915–16), 66, states that this mosque is not worthy of conservation. There is no mention of any of the inscriptions. 36 At least seven intact hammams survive at various sites of the Nizam Shahs. There are hammams within the Ambarkot at Daulatabad, on the hill fort of Shivneri, at Chaul, at Manzarsumbah, in the Hasht Bihisht Bagh on the outskirts of Ahmadnagar with the Shahi Hammam nearby. 37 Progress Report of the Archaeological Survey of India, Western Circle: Archaeology (1899–1900), 2. 38 da Cunha, Antiquities, 113: ‘The pavement, which was all of marble flags, has thus been removed…’ 39 One of the most celebrated public hammams, the Ganj Ali Khan in the city bazaar of Kerman, is accessible through a store bay in the Kerman Bazaar in a very similar way. Very often, the revenues from the shops on the side paid for the upkeep of the institution. 40 Progress Report (1915–16), 66. 41 This section, which deals with the ceramics, was written with significant contributions by Dr. Abhijit Dandekar of the Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Pune. Dr. Dandekar has been the director of the excavations and surveys at Chaul since 2008, which were initially directed for more than four seasons by Vishwas Gogte, also of Deccan College. Some of the excavation seasons have been published in part: V. Gogte, ‘Discovery of the ancient port of Chaul,’ Man and Environment 28/1 (2003), 67–74; id., ‘Ancient port of Chaul.’ 42 In Gogte, ‘Discovery,’ 69, the early and late medieval period in this context are defined as 500–1300 CE and 1300–1700 CE respectively. The early and late medieval period are assigned equally arbitrary dates by Kathleen Morrison in ‘Commerce and Culture in South Asia: Perspectives from Archaeology and History,’ Annual Review of Anthropology 26 (1997), 87–108. 43 Himanshu Prabha Ray, ‘Kanheri: The archaeology of an early Buddhist pilgrimage centre in Western India,’ World Archaeology 26/1 ( June 1994), 35–46. 44 Kathleen Morrison, ‘Commerce and Culture,’ 100, has suggested that the shift in physical patterns of urban settlements in the late medieval period mostly involved expansion and settlement density, but this is certainly not true at this site. 45 A Description of the Coasts of East Africa and Malabar by Duarte Barbosa, tr. Henry E.J. Stanley (London, 1866), 69–71: ‘This place is one of great commerce in merchandise, and in the months


medieval chaul under the nizam shahs of December, January, February and March there are many ships from the Malabar country and all other parts, which arrive with cargoes…In this port, there are few inhabitants, except during three or four months of the year, the time for putting in cargo, when there arrive merchants from all the neighbourhood, and they make their bargains during this period, and despatch their goods, and after that return to their homes till the next season, so that this place is like a fair in those months.’ See also the Gazetteer, 735. 46 Nikitin, Barbosa, Della Valle are all struck by the frugal lifestyles of the native people, unless they are soldiers or administrators. 47 F.C. Danvers, The Portuguese in India, vol. 1 (London, 1894), 291. 48 Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World (Leiden, 1990), vol. 3: Indo-Islamic Society 14th–15th Centuries. Wink refers to several instances of the ephemeral nature of Indian settlements in this period, which he says were a result of natural and manmade factors. He argues that most settlements could not be thought of as real cities in a European sense because they faced ‘…sharp seasonal fluctuations of the number of their inhabitants, the general mobility of large numbers of people, the long tradition of internal migration caused by military invasions and raids, famines, epidemics and droughts, as well as the general volatility of Indian political and military life.’ (73). ‘The city had little or no autonomy in the historical Indian ocean region’ and ‘…the Indian city as such was certainly not the privileged locus of sustained and cumulative social change’ (76); ‘The Indo-Islamic cities were the sites of political and military power, apart from being commercial centers. But even so, they were essentially not recognized as legal entities in any way, and the inhabitants of cities and towns enjoyed no special privileges’ (77–78). 49 Wink, Al-Hind, vol. 3, 1: ‘The instability of Indian cities, while primarily due to geophysical and hydrological factors, was enhanced by demographic volatility associated with the monsoon climate and the generally very high mobility of the Indo-Islamic ruling elites.’


4 Migr ations a nd Cu ltu r a l Tr a nsmissions in the D ecca n Evidence of Monuments at Vijayanagara

—George Michell—


n spite of almost continuous conflict between the Deccan sultans and the Vijayanagara emperors, significant transmissions occurred between their two centres of power over a period of more than two hundred years, from the middle of the fourteenth to the middle of the sixteenth century. This is particularly noticeable in the fields of military expertise, courtly culture and architectural style. This article explores such transmissions from the point of view of the Hindu Empire of Vijayanagara, located immediately to the south of the Muslim Bahmani kingdom. Contemporary documents record that Muslim mercenaries, especially those excelling in horse-riding skills, were employed by the Vijayanagara emperors. Their presence at the Hindu capital is confirmed by sculptural depictions of such figures on the monuments themselves. Builders and craftsmen versed in sultanate architectural designs and constructional techniques must also have been at Vijayanagara, judging from the appearance of surviving courtly buildings in the Royal Centre of the city. Such evidence challenges long-standing views of Vijayanagara as ‘a Hindu bulwark against Muhammadan conquest.’1

Sculpted representations No figural art, either in painted form as illustrated manuscripts or as carved reliefs on buildings, has come down to us from the Khalji and Tughluq occupation of 79

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the Deccan or from the Bahmani courts at Gulbarga and Bidar.2 This situation is markedly different with regard to Vijayanagara, since several monuments here are embellished with sculpted imagery that offers an excellent idea of the appearance and roles of Muslims at the Hindu capital. Here we shall draw special attention to the reliefs on the Great Platform and Ramachandra Temple in the Royal Centre of the city and the Vitthala Temple in the Sacred Centre. Thanks to the meticulous rendition of costumes, facial features and hair styles of the figures represented on these buildings it is possible for us to distinguish Central Asian Turks, Arabs and Deccani Muslims, all of whom were present at Vijayanagara at different times. Significantly, the reliefs occur on monuments spanning an approximate 200-year period. These visual records indicate that different groups of Muslims succeeded each other as employees of the Vijayanagara emperors and visitors to the Hindu capital. The most prominent monument of the Royal Centre is a unique, multi-stage platform known as the Mahanavami Dibba, from its supposed link with the great annual festival hosted by the Vijayanagara emperors.3 However, since its sculpted imagery appears to have little to do with the Mahanavami we shall refer to the monument simply as the Great Platform. The platform dates from the earliest occupation of this part of the Vijayanagara site in the middle of the fourteenth century, though it was subsequently heightened and altered on several occasions. It is only with the lowest and earliest stage of the monument that we are concerned here. This consists of a vast, solid masonry terrace, approximately 38 metres square and 4 metres high, constructed of massive, somewhat irregularly shaped granite blocks piled one on top of each other without any mortar. The sides of this terrace, as best seen today on the south and west faces, are entirely covered with reliefs illustrating royal activities, such as reception, entertainment, hunting and animal parades (Fig. 4.1).4 More than half of the more than 100 male figures depicted here are shown with prominent eyes, long noses and pointed beards; long ribbons in their hair flow outwards at either side. They wear pointed faceted caps with upturned rims, and upper garments with long sleeves, ‘cloud-collars’ with multi-curved profiles, and waist belts hung with various items; their shoes have pointed ends (Fig. 4.2). We interpret these attributes of physiognomy and costume as realistic portrayals of a specific ethnic group – in our opinion, Central Asian Turks.5 These figures appear as guardians bearing clubs and other weapons; as entertainers and dancers, holding scarves or beating tambourines; and as animal trainers, leading and sometimes riding horses. One of the most prominent groups of such figures is found on the rear wall of the eastern entrance chamber to the Great Platform. Here three rows 80

Figure 4.1  Vijayanagara. The Great Platform. Detail: a ruler receiving a Muslim delegation.

Figure 4.2  Vijayanagara. The Great Platform. Detail: Central Asian Turkish dancers.

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of guardians, entertainers and animal trainers greet visitors before they ascend the narrow staircases to the topmost terrace. Who then are these Turkish people and what were they doing at the court of the Hindu emperors? Such questions can only be answered indirectly. Inscriptions at Vijayanagara and contemporary historical sources throw little light on these foreigners. More information is gleaned from documents associated with the Delhi sultans.6 We know that Turkish slaves formed part of the militarized nobility of the Khalji and Tughluq courts, and it is likely that contingents of such peoples accompanied the troops that invaded the Deccan in the early fourteenth century. Several of these slaves may have stayed on to serve under the Bahmani sultans before migrating to the Vijayanagara court. That Hindu rulers should have willingly employed Turkish slaves accords well with the recent interpretation of Vijayanagara as a state that adapted to the innovations introduced into the Deccan by the Delhi invaders.7 The martial and courtly roles that Turkish slaves fulfilled at Vijayanagara is vividly expressed in the reliefs that we have just noticed. That such figures should appear at its eastern entrance suggests that they formed a significant part of the inner coterie of the Hindu emperors. However, it would seem that Turkish slaves did not continue in such positions into the fifteenth century, since they are not depicted on later monuments at Vijayanagara. It is possible that by the end of the fourteenth century, the source of Central Asian slaves came to an end for the Deccan.8 Thereafter, the Vijayanagara rulers had to rely on Arabs who arrived by sea as the chief suppliers and trainers of horses. For a portrayal of Arabs on Vijayanagara monuments we now turn to the Ramachandra Temple situated at the core of the Royal Centre, a short distance from the Great Platform. This finely detailed Hindu monument, known popularly as Hazara Rama, was founded by Deva Raya I in the second decade of the fifteenth century as a private chapel for the emperor.9 The temple is of interest for the vigorous quality of its carvings, many of which illustrate episodes from the Rāmāyana legend. Here, however, we are concerned with the royal reliefs on the outer face of the compound walls within which the temple stands. The reliefs are divided into registers portraying parades of elephants, horses, military contingents and courtly women. The animals, men and women all proceed around the walls in a clockwise direction, their progress broken only by gateways in the middle of the north and east sides of the compound. The parades terminate in royal figures seated on thrones or on horses in the company of guards and parasol-bearing attendants. The exclusively royal iconography on the exterior of the Ramachandra Temple is a feature found in no other Hindu monument at Vijayanagara, or indeed at any other 82

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Figure 4.3  Vijayanagara. Ramachandra Temple. Detail: Arab attendant leading a horse.

site in South India. Significantly, the parades faithfully accord with the descriptions by foreign visitors to the city of the animals, troops and courtly women displayed by the Vijayanagara emperors on the occasion of the Mahanavami festival.10 While the parades offer an abundance of data on peoples at the Hindu capital, we are here particularly concerned with the horses and grooms in the second tier from the bottom. In these reliefs Muslim attendants are shown leading horses, but never riding them (Fig. 4.3). It is the animals that are displayed rather than their trainers, who appear only in a secondary role. Nonetheless, both animals and men are portrayed in lifelike and varied postures, indicating the participants in an actual Mahanavami celebration. The attendants are dressed in long tunics with long sleeves; they wear pointed hats, but not of the same type as those of the Central Asian Turks on the Great Platform. We presume that they are intended to represent the Arab traders who conducted horses from the ports on the Arabian Sea through the forests of the Western Ghats to the Vijayanagara capital.11 Nowhere on the Ramachandra Temple reliefs are Muslims shown as guardians with weapons or as entertainers playing tambourines, as on the 83

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Figure 4.4  Vijayanagara. Columns in the Vitthala Temple: warriors riding fantastic beasts.

Great Platform. After the turn of the fifteenth century Muslims apparently no longer fulfilled these roles at the Vijayanagara court. By the sixteenth century Muslims played an important part in the Vijayanagara militia. Figural carvings on the columns of maṇḍapas, or halls, in Hindu temples at the capital dated to this period are often embellished with fully sculpted, rearing fantastic, leonine beasts known as yāḷis. These beasts are usually ridden by human warriors wearing a variety of costumes and armed with diverse weapons, as if to depict actual contingents of the Vijayanagara army. One of the finest arrays of such figures is found in the free-standing maṇḍapa in the southeast corner of the walled 84

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Figure 4.5  Vijayanagara. Vitthala Temple, column detail: turbaned Muslim warrior.

compound of the Vitthala Temple, datable to the mid-sixteenth century (Fig. 4.4).12 About three-quarters human in size, these figures are carved in a lifelike manner so as to convey a convincing martial spirit. That some of these figures are Muslims is apparent from their long noses and pointed beards, their ribbed turbans or pointed hats, long tunics with curved daggers tucked into the belts, and shoes with upturned ends (Fig. 4.5). But whether they are intended to portray Muslim mercenaries from the Deccan kingdoms or recent émigré adventurers from Central Asia or Iran cannot be determined.


The Visual World of Muslim India

Figure 4.6  Vijayanagara. Mosque and tomb of Ahmad Khan northeast of the Royal Centre.

Mosques and tombs That Muslim military officers attained influence at the Vijayanagara court is evident from the mosques and tombs that they erected on the outskirts of the capital. Such monuments constituted the nuclei of the Islamic quarters of the capital, where highranking Muslim military figures were permitted to live.13 The fact that several of these tombs are built in an obvious Bahmani fashion suggests a migration of builders and craftsmen from Deccan sultanate centres such as Gulbarga. The first group of monuments to be described here stands next to the road that runs in a northeasterly direction away from the Royal Centre of the capital. They include a mosque and tomb in the vicinity of a deep tank and a cluster of scattered graves. The mosque (Fig. 4.6) has a typical temple-like appearance, with granite columns, beams and ceiling slabs, rather than plaster-covered rubble with arched recesses and domes. Here, it would seem, local workmen were employed. The inscription in Kannada language and script gives the name of the patron, Ahmad Khan, the date of construction – equivalent to 1439 – and the name of the reigning monarch Deva Raya II.14 This record refers to the building as a dharmaśāla, or ‘house of law,’ presumably an appropriate Kannada term for a mosque. In spite of 86

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the purpose-made, temple-like columns of its interior, a mihrab with a tri-lobed recess is set into the rear wall. The overall un-Islamic character of the mosque contrasts with the domed tomb that stands next to it, which presents a simplified version of a Bahmani mausoleum.15 Though lacking any inscription, it seems only natural to ascribe this to the same patron, Ahmad Khan; most likely it was intended as his tomb. Though its crude masonry construction is now lacking any plaster coating, the design preserves pointed-arched recesses in the middle of its four sides flanked by smaller recesses of the same type. The walls slope slightly inwards and are topped by a parapet of battlements; above rises the slightly squattish dome. While this tomb resembles the funerary monuments of the early Bahmani sultans at Gulbarga,16 we have no way of knowing if the builder of Ahmad Khan’s mausoleum had worked previously at the Bahmani capital. Two more Muslim tombs nearby are rectangular structures constructed in traditional Vijayanagara manner, with vertical and horizontal stone slabs filled with rubble and coated with plaster. Arched recesses articulate the outer walls, which are surmounted by high

Figure 4.7  Muslim tombs at Kadirampura, near Vijayanagara.


The Visual World of Muslim India

parapets with arched openings, and lines of battlements with miniature fluted finials at the corners. The interiors have flat ceilings. Tombs of this type are not known at Gulbarga, though the arched recesses and battlemented parapet with corner finials are clearly Bahmani in origin. So too the grandly scaled, but incomplete stone tomb at Kadirampura, on the western fringe of Vijayanagara (Fig. 4.7). Measuring some 12 metres square and rising more than 9 metres high to the base of the dome, this monument is impressive in terms of its dimensions and clarity of design. Built in the typical early Bahmani manner, the tomb presents two tiers of larger and smaller arched recesses. The interior employs broad arched squinches topped by a frieze of recessed, diagonal squares. No dome is preserved above; indeed, none seems ever to have been built since there are no collapsed blocks or rubble in the vicinity. Though no historical data are available, we may assume that the patron must have been a Muslim of some importance since the tomb is larger and more finely finished than any other funerary monument at Vijayanagara. Immediately to the rear is a smaller, more completely preserved but unidentified tomb that repeats the scheme of the unidentified example next to Ahmad Khan’s mosque just described. An incomplete tomb of almost the same dimensions and design as the domeless example at Kadirampura stands outside the nearby town of Hospet.

Courtly structures and service buildings We have no knowledge about the builders and designers responsible for the mosque and tombs at Vijayanagara just described. The same is true for the Bahmani-influenced courtly buildings in Royal Centre. The audience halls, watchtowers, water pavilions, stables and other structures still standing in this part of the city are all built of stone rubble set in thick mortar and cloaked with plaster. They are distinguished by the use of pointed and lobed arches, as well as vaults and domes, all decorated with stylized geometric and floral ornament in sharply cut thick plasterwork. While these features clearly derive from Bahmani practice, other attributes owe more to the South Indian temple tradition that flourished at Vijayanagara; notably the double-curved eaves carried on lotus brackets, and the pyramidal towers composed of ascending tiers of eave-like mouldings, capped with ribbed finials known as āmalakas. The blending of Bahmani building practice and the South Indian temple tradition may be taken as one of the outstanding achievements of Vijayanagara designers. In this endeavour they must have been encouraged by the emperors and nobles of the Hindu court who 88

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Figure 4.8  Vijayanagara. Domed gateway southeast of the Royal Centre.

wished to embellish their principal places of business, pleasure and residence with a distinctive, hybrid architecture. Other Bahmani-styled structures at Vijayanagara include the domed gateway southeast of the Royal Centre (Fig. 4.8). Built of plaster-covered masonry, this has four lofty pointed arches enlivened with bands of plaster ornament, with similarly decorated roundels in the spandrels. The arches carry a circular drum upon which rises a pointed dome. Though lacking any date, the dome may be compared to fifteenth-century domes at Bidar, such as those which crown the axial chambers of the celebrated madrasa there.17 The granary incorporated into the Balakrishna Temple in the Sacred Centre is also Bahmani in style. This is evident from the profiles of the pointed arches that define its six interior bays, each roofed by a flattish dome with a small hole through which to pour rice and other grains. Bahmani-styled arches are also employed in the octagonal well outside Malpannagudi, another settlement on the outskirts of Vijayanagara. This well is mentioned in an inscribed slab dated 1412,18 confirming the adoption of Bahmani architectural features at the Hindu capital by this time. The stilted arches that line its octagonal shaft are created from voussoired blocks, indicating masons well versed in Islamic constructional techniques. 89

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Figure 4.9  Vijayanagara. Elephant Stables in the Royal Centre.

The largest Bahmani-influenced structure at Vijayanagara is the celebrated Elephant Stables (Fig. 4.9) facing westwards onto a spacious maydān, or parade ground, in the northeast corner of the Royal Centre. The stables present a line of eleven domed chambers, ten with interior domes carried on corner squinches, exactly as in Bahmani mosques and tombs. The entrances to the chambers are framed by pointed arches with stilted profiles surrounded by bands of plaster ornament. The domes that rise above six of the chambers are also of the Bahmani type, having slightly squattish profiles, with both plain and fluted surfaces. However, four of the chambers are roofed not with domes but with unusual twelve-sided, pyramidal vaults that rise in tiers of eave-like mouldings. These vaults owe little to the Bahmani tradition, being more closely related to the hybrid architectural style that was invented at Vijayanagara. Further examples of Bahmani-influenced buildings include the nearby Lotus Mahal, which in spite of its (modern) name probably functioned as an audience hall for the Vijayanagara emperor or his prime minister. This pavilion is laid out as a temple-like maṇḍapa on a square plan with projections in the middle of each side. Other templederived features include the double-curved eaves that shelter each of the two storeys of the pavilion, and the cluster of pyramidal towers that rises upon the eight corners 90

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of the building as well as the central bay. Openings with prominent lobed profiles are, however, more clearly sultanate in inspiration (Fig. 4.10). Surrounded by thickly encrusted plaster ornament they incorporate stylized motifs drawn from the Bahmani tradition, as well as monster masks and lines of geese familiar from Hindu temple art.19 Roundels in the spandrels above are filled with geometric strapwork in the typical Bahmani manner. A short distance from the Lotus Mahal are two watchtowers on square and octagonal plans. They are relieved by balconies carried on lotus brackets and pointed arched openings, and topped by fanciful towers with curved eaves and āmalaka finials. Another pavilion within the Royal Centre worth noting is clearly modelled on Muslim water structures. Known as the Queens’ Bath, it consists of an arcaded corridor running around four sides of an open square court with a deep pool. Arches here exhibit stilted profiles, while the balconies projecting over the water are encrusted with Bahmani-inspired floral and geometric decoration in relief plasterwork. Equally obviously Bahmani in derivation are the ceilings over the bays of the arcade, which vary from octagonal domes decorated with stylized arabesque motifs to pyramidal vaults embellished with timber-like ribs. The bath was once supplied with towers topped with fanciful pyramidal roofs of the type already noticed, but these have now disappeared.20

Conclusion The carved depictions of Muslims on the monuments at Vijayanagara, the mosque and tombs in the various Muslim quarters of the city, and the Bahmani-influenced courtly buildings in the Royal Centre indicate the transmissions of ideas, practices and architectural techniques from the Muslim courts of the Deccan to the Hindu capital. Such transmission could only have been possible with the actual migrations of peoples across the permeable boundaries that separated the territories disputed by the Bahmani sultans and Vijayanagara emperors. Though undeniably Hindu in religious affiliation, the Vijayanagara emperors did not hesitate to employ Muslims for their personal guards, entertainers and animal trainers, nor to encourage their architects to develop a Bahmani-styled architecture for the Royal Centre of their capital. Attracting Muslims to Vijayanagara and commissioning Bahmani-influenced buildings may be considered symptoms of a broad desire on the part of these South Indian rulers to create a ‘cosmopolitan’ courtly culture that embraced Muslims and delighted in Muslim-influenced buildings. Little wonder, then, that scholars 91

Figure 4.10  Vijayanagara. Interior of the Lotus Mahal in the Royal Centre.

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have come to develop a view of Vjayanagara as a partly Islamicized Hindu state.21 Meanwhile, parallel studies are beginning to corroborate the Hinduized character of the Bahmani kingdom.22 No longer is it possible to collapse the complex history, courtly culture and architecture of the Deccan into simple ‘Muslim’ and ‘Hindu’ categories.

Notes 1 The expression is from Robert Sewell, A Forgotten Empire (Vijayanagara): A Contribution to the History of India (London, 1900; repr. New Delhi, 1980), 1. 2 In her article, ‘The British Library’s Shahanama of 1438 as a sultanate manuscript,’ in Facets of Indian Art: A Symposium Held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, ed. Robert Skelton et al. (London, 1986), 87–93, Barbara Brend has suggested a Bidar provenance for a dated illustrated manuscript in the British Library, London. Her argument relies on the interpretation of particular details in the paintings. In this author’s opinion the attribution remains unproven. 3 Celebrated at the capital at the end of the monsoon season, the festival of Mahanavami, or Nine Nights, was developed by the Vijayanagara emperors as a spectacular showpiece of royal power and wealth. On this occasion the ruler worshipped a goddess who invested his weapons, regalia, troops and animals with divine power. This rite was witnessed by all the court, as well as the provincial governors and commanders who were summoned to the capital on this occasion. Only at the conclusion of the celebrations did the Vijayanagara ruler embark upon warring expeditions. For a discussion of the festival’s religious and military significance see Burton Stein, ‘Mahanavami: Medieval and modern kingly ritual in south India,’ in Essays on Gupta Culture, ed. Bardwell L. Smith (Delhi, 1983), 67–90. 4 The monument and its reliefs are fully described by Anna L. Dallapiccola, The Great Platform at Vijayanagara: Architecture & Sculpture (New Delhi, 2010). 5 Hermann Goetz was the first scholar to discuss the Muslims depicted in the reliefs of the Great Platform. See Hermann Goetz, ‘Muslims in Vijayanagara: The record of monuments,’ in Studies in Indian Culture: Dr. G. Yazdani Commemoration Volume, ed. Haroon Khan Sherwani (Hyderabad, 1966), 66–70. However, Anna Dallapiccola, The Great Platform, Appendix II, is the first to identify these figures as Central Asian Turks. 6 The role of Turkish slaves at the Delhi court, especially their importance in the military, is considered by Peter Jackson, The Delhi Sultanate: A Political and Military History (Cambridge, 1999), Chapter 4. Yet Jackson has nothing to say about the importation of such slaves into the Deccan. 7 See Note 21 below.


The Visual World of Muslim India 8 The decades between the 1330s and 1370s witnessed great turmoil in Central Asia and Iran with the fall of the Ilkhanids, thereby causing the migration of Turkish mercenaries to India. This pattern came to an end after 1380 with the rise of Timur, who successfully aggregated all military manpower around himself, as did his descendants. 9 For the Ramachandra Temple and its reliefs see Anna L. Dallapiccola et al., The Ramachandra Temple at Vijayanagara (New Delhi, 1992), especially Chapter 20. 10 The Mahanavami parades are described in vivid detail by foreign visitors to Vijayanagara, most notably by Abdurrazzaq, an envoy of the Timurid ruler Shahrukh, and the Portuguese horse-traders Domingo Paes and Fernão Nunes. Robert Sewell, Forgotten Empire, gives full translations of their accounts. 11 This trade was usurped by the Portuguese after they had established themselves in Goa; for this reason horses depicted on sixteenth-century monuments at Vijayanagara, such as the basement reliefs on the Vitthala Temple, are shown accompanied by European grooms. 12 Mounted warriors in Vijayanagara temple art are summarily discussed by Anila Verghese, ‘Martial themes in sculptures,’ in Archaeology, Art and Religion: New Perspectives on Vijayanagara (New Delhi, 2000), 239–50. 13 For a description of the mosques and tombs at Vijayanagara as well as of the Bahmani-influenced courtly buildings at the capital see George Michell, The Vijayanagara Courtly Style: Incorporation and Synthesis in the Royal Architecture of Southern India, 15th–16th Centuries (New Delhi, 1992). Additional photographs of the buildings are supplied in John Gollings et al., City of Victory: Vijayanagara, the Medieval Capital of Southern India (New York, 1991). 14 The inscription is published in Inscriptions at Vijayanagara (Hampi), ed. Chanabasappa S. Patil and Vinoda C. Patil (Mysore, 1995), no. 288. As in contemporary temple architecture, this is written in Kannada language and script; the date is given in the Shaka era. 15 Bahmani funerary architecture is discussed in Islamic Heritage of the Deccan, ed. George Michell (Bombay, 1986), and George Michell and Mark Zebrowski, Architecture and Art of the Deccan Sultanates, vol. 1.7 of The New Cambridge History of India (Cambridge, 1999), Chapter 3. 16 See for example Michell and Zebrowski, Art of the Deccan, fig. 39. 17 Dating from 1472, the madrasa at Bidar is illustrated in Michell and Zebrowski, Architecture and Art, fig. 44. 18 The date is in the Shaka era. See Patil and Patil, Inscriptions, no. 423. 19 In her article ‘Plaster decoration on sultanate-styled courtly buildings,’ New Light on Hampi: Recent Research at Vijayanagara, ed. John M. Fritz and George Michell (Mumbai, 2001), 74–87, Helen Philon establishes links between the Vijayanagara and Bahmani architectural traditions. 20 The vanished towers of the Queens’ Bath are recorded in nineteenth-century photographs. See The Alkazi Collection of Photography: Vijayanagara: Splendour in Ruins, ed. George Michell (Ahmedabad, 2008), figs. 86, 87.


migrations and cultural transmissions in the deccan 21 In particular, Phillip B. Wagoner, ‘“Sultan among Hindu kings”: Dress, titles, and the Islamicization of Hindu culture at Vijayanagara,’ Journal of Asian Studies 4 (1996), 851–80; id., ‘Harihara, Bukka, and the sultan: The Delhi sultanate in the political imagination of Vijayanagara,’ in Beyond Turk and Hindu: Shaping Religious Identities in Islamicate India, ed. David Gilmartin and Bruce B. Lawrence (Gainesville, FL, 2000), 300–26; Catherine B. Asher and Cynthia Talbot, India Before Europe (Cambridge, 2006), 70–74. 22 See for instance the interpretation of Bahmani courtly architecture by Helen Philon in her intro­ duction to Silent Splendour: Palaces of the Deccan, 14th–19th Centuries (Mumbai, 2010), 14–25.


Figure 5.1  Google Earth view of Gulbarga Fort. The Great Mosque is clearly distinguished by its size, rectangular shape and domes. On its northeastern side is the Bala Hisar and on its northwestern the bazaar street that opens onto the Hathi Gate.

5 The ‘Gr e at Mosqu e’ at Gu lba rga Reinter pr eted a s the Ha z a r Su tu n of Firuz Sh a h Ba h ma ni (r . 1397–1422) —Helen Philon—


he most impressive, unusual and problematic building of the early Bahmani period is the so-called ‘Great Mosque’ in Gulbarga. It is located on the western side of the fort at about the middle of its north–south axis, and on the edge of a cliff that overlooks the low-lying land to both east and south (Fig. 5.1). In shape, the mosque is a rectangle set on a stone platform that is wider on the southern than the northern side, where, according to old photographs, it was once preceded by arched constructions (Fig. 5.2). It has on its western side a square space with an elevated floor under a soaring dome, in which the mihrab is located and which is preceded by 75 uniform domed units that are surrounded on three sides by wide, arched, vaulted halls. A number of features distinguish this mosque from all others in the Deccan, and probably in all India, namely the absence both of a projecting mihrab niche on the exterior of the qibla wall and of other secondary mihrabs along the interior of the qibla wall (Figs. 5.3, 5.4). It also differs from Deccani congregational mosques in possessing no internal courtyard – nor does it seem to have had a minbar next to the mihrab, the present minbar being a recent addition. Inside the fort, ten baolīs, or wells, served the needs of its inhabitants and irrigated the cultivated fields; they may be seen in old photographs. The presence of these wells suggests that there were probably permanent habitations and a tented camp within the fort – a conclusion also implied by the debris found to the north and the empty spaces towards the south. 97




Figure 5.2  Gulbarga Fort. Great Mosque. 0


10 m

20 m

Figure 5.3  Gulbarga Fort. Great Mosque. View of the qibla wall from the southwestern side (photograph by Clare Arni, 2009).

Figure 5.4  Gulbarga Fort. Great Mosque. Aisle leading at right angle to the qibla wall where a small niche for books or light is located (photograph by Clare Arni, 2009).

The Visual World of Muslim India

Of the palaces, pavilions and other public buildings that must have once surrounded the ‘Great Mosque’ during the early Bahmani period few remain, and all that do lie north of the mosque. On the northwestern side of the fort is the bazaar street (Fig. 5.1), with its two lines of shops roofed by different domical forms amongst which pyramidal vaults prevail (c. 1400).1 This commercial thoroughfare connected the fort with the Hathi Gate (c. 1400 and later), and beyond it with the wide ceremonial avenue that leads to the Shah Bazaar Jami (c. 1380–1420) – the only congregational mosque in the town of Gulbarga.2 Closer to the ‘Great Mosque’ is the small but elegant Ladies’ Mosque, which dates from the time of Firuz Shah (r. 1397–1422), and on its northeastern side is the massive sixteenth/seventeenth-century Bala Hisar, which encloses the remains of an arched structure identified by Klaus Rötzer as belonging to the fourteenth-century Audience Hall of the early Bahmanis (Fig. 5.1).3 Colin Mackenzie, in 1797, was the first to record the ‘Great Mosque,’ but he did so without mentioning any dates.4 He was followed by other scholars, who all dated the building to the reign of Muhammad I (1358–75) but were perplexed by its architectural form. Comparisons ranged from the Great Mosque of Cordoba to Hindu temples; the latter suggested by Ghulam Yazdani.5 The dating was based on the stone inscription embedded in the wall of the building’s northern gate, which mentions the date 769 H/1367 CE and the name of Rafi‘ from Qazvin as the person responsible for the construction of this mosque.6 Ziyaud-din A. Desai was the first to doubt the validity of this inscription, which had been used by all previous scholars to date the mosque.7 He noted that the inscribed slab was originally found not on the building itself but in nearby debris, and that it was only later set into the entrance portal. The historical connections of this inscription with the monument itself are therefore in doubt – especially as, according to Desai, such slabs ‘are known to have been set up later than the buildings and vice versa.’8 He also noted that the architectural features distinguishing this building affiliated it more to the period of Firuz Shah Bahmani than the reign of Muhammad I. Desai’s revised dating has been accepted by Elizabeth Merklinger, George Michell and myself.9 Moreover, Merklinger’s suggestion that this building ‘may have served primarily as a civic monument, a meeting place of outstanding political significance for the early Bahmani Sultans’ is a hypothesis that deserves serious consideration.10 Recently, Mehrdad Shokoohy has reiterated the date from the reign of Muhammad I, dismissing both Merklinger’s and Desai’s views.11 I believe his argument is based on two flawed assumptions. Firstly, Shokoohy states that the royal entrance to a mosque was usually on the northern side of its prayer hall, but he fails to mention that both in Bahmani and in Tughluq mosques the entrance to the royal enclosure was generally 100

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in the northwest corner of the prayer hall – an arrangement that is obviously not the case at the ‘Great Mosque’ of Gulbarga, where such an entrance does not seem to exist.12 Moreover, the main entrance to a congregational mosque – at least, during the Bahmani period – was the domed, square room that was always located on its eastern side. Auxiliary doors could be found on the southern and northern sides (as in the Firuzabad Jami Masjid and the Shah Bazaar Jami in Gulbarga) – the one on the northwestern corner allowed access to the mulūk khāna or royal enclosure, while a door next to the minbar connected the mosque to the royal living quarters. In the ‘Great Mosque’ the royal entrance is absent, and in the east there are two entrances – rather than the customary one – both of which have been turned into windows, probably when the current Sufi shrine replaced the steps leading up to them. The northern, pīshṭāq-type entrance, where the inscriptions are now displayed, is in any case not an original feature of the building but a later addition (Fig. 5.5). Secondly, Shokoohy compares the ‘Great Mosque’ of Gulbarga with the Great Figure 5.5  Gulbarga Fort. Great Mosque. Projecting northeastern entrance (photograph by Clare Arni, 2009).


The Visual World of Muslim India

Figure 5.6  Gulbarga Fort. Great Mosque. Southwestern peripheral vaulted bay (photograph by Clare Arni, 2009).

Mosque ( Jami al-Kabir) at Kayalpatnam in Ma‘bar, dated 737 H/1336 CE. The latter, however, has a square courtyard (albeit small and covered by a dome) – an essential feature of Deccani congregational mosques, and one that is totally absent at Gulbarga. The Kayalpatnam mosque also has a projection to mark the mihrab niche. As for the slightly wider colonnade found on the three sides of the Jami al-Kabir, it bears no relation to the arched, vaulted one that distinguishes the ‘Great Mosque’ of Gulbarga (Fig. 5.6). It is therefore evident that this perplexing building continues to confuse scholars, as its constituent architectural features do not quite fulfill the traditional expectations of a Deccani congregational mosque. Moreover, its monumental scale and unique plan suggest the authorship of a visionary ruler eager to adopt fresh styles and introduce new forms in order to express his universal aspirations, rather than a building that owes its existence to an emerging new dynasty still unsure of its position and legitimacy in the world of princes. The only ruler of the early Bahmani period who possessed the education and the vision to build such an innovative structure was Firuz Shah Bahmani (r. 1397–1422). This vision is evident at his royal foundation of Firuzabad, where a number of new building types that explore different architectural symbols of power are introduced into the Deccani ‘visual vocabulary’ of kingship.13 102

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I will therefore propose that the ‘Great Mosque’ falls in the reign of Firuz Shah Bahmani, and probably post-dates his victorious campaign against Vijayanagara in 1406–7 and his marriage to the daughter of Deva Raya I, the Emperor of Vijayanagara.14 I will also propose a different purpose for the building itself, namely, that it may be interpreted as a hazār sutūn, or audience hall, which could also function as a mosque thanks to its directional layout. I will argue that the dual functions of its columned hall evince royal and spiritual symbolisms, and suggest the changing role of kingship that emerged during the reign of Firuz Shah Bahmani – one of the most educated and visionary rulers of the Bahmani period. It is also evident that the building has been subjected to numerous refurbishments by the Adil Shahs (c. 1500–1670) and their successors, the Mughals (1677–1707) and the Asaf Jahs (1724–1950). These have been responsible for the changes to its plan, decorative motifs and, probably, to its function as well. The Adil Shahs were very active in Gulbarga, as evidenced by their additions to the dargāhs of Shaykh Junaydi and Gesu Daraz as well as to buildings in the fort.15 According to Klaus Rötzer, the Bahmani earthen walls of the fort were dressed with stone during the sixteenth century, while, during the seventeenth, the fort was turned into a factory for the manufacture of iron cannons.16 It was during this period that the massive walls of the Bala Hisar, located on the northeastern side of the ‘Great Mosque,’ were built in order to support the iron cannon that was probably manufactured on site. In the ‘Great Mosque’ itself, the tall pīshṭāq gate on its northern façade (discussed below) was added later, and it is possible that the range of peripheral, longitudinalvaulted bays that surround the 75 square, domed units on three sides could have either been added or refurbished during the Adil Shahi period (Fig. 5.6). As noted earlier, the ‘Great Mosque’ has only one mihrab, which can be seen under its soaring dome – the largest in Gulbarga – and which is distinguished by a pair of engaged fluted baluster columns that could date from either the Mughal period or from the time of their successors, the Asaf Jahs of Hyderabad, who ruled part of the Deccan from 1762 until 1950 (Fig. 5.7).17 It is therefore evident that the history of this unusual, monumental structure does not cease with the fall of the Bahmani dynasty in the second decade of the sixteenth century. Instead, this building continued in use, with new additions and refurbishments as well as changing functions. In order to properly examine this monument and unravel its long history, it will be important to clear its surfaces of all recent repairs and the numerous layers of cement and whitewash that have been applied these last few years. Until such an examination is possible, the suggested attribution of additions, dates and functions must remain provisional. 103

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Figure 5.7  Gulbarga Fort. Great Mosque. Mihrab with baluster columns (photograph by Clare Arni, 2009).

The façades of the ‘Great Mosque’ Three of the façades of the ‘Great Mosque’ are distinguished by arched openings, which were probably filled with jālīs or perforated stone or brick screens usually with foliate or geometric designs (Figs. 5.3, 5.5). Jālīs are found on early Bahmani courtly buildings both at Firuzabad and at the tomb of Firuz Shah in Gulbarga, but they are also in evidence on courtly and funerary structures in Bijapur (sixteenth/seventeenth centuries) – as indeed are façades with arched openings themselves.18 Completing the design of the façades of the ‘Great Mosque’ are parapets of tri-lobed merlons interrupted by guldastas or ornamental pinnacles of different types. As evidenced by old photographs, these probably belong to the many restorations the building has been subjected to over the years. Gates of different designs are located to the north and 104

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south of the building. The one on the southern façade follows a pīshṭāq or high arched portal arrangement, rising above the parapet, and is on axis with the main northeastern entrance to the mosque (Fig. 5.3). This arrangement is repeated above two of the arched openings on the eastern façade. These probably functioned as gateways, reached by steps that were in all likelihood destroyed when the Sufi shrine that now occupies this side of the mosque was added. Parallels for this type of pīshṭāq configuration are to be found in Firuzabad, on the Jami Mosque and in the cross-in-square-plan structure at the dargāh of Khalifaturrahman.19 I have argued elsewhere that the latter was probably the Audience Hall of Firuz Shah in Firuzabad, suggesting that this type of portal was used both for religious and for ceremonial buildings.20 It is the portal at the eastern end of the northern façade, where the aforementioned historical inscription is presently embedded on the right-hand wall that now serves as the main gate.21 Its pīshṭāq configuration differs from that of the others, as it projects outwards from the arcade of the façade (Fig. 5.5). The doorway is set deep into a frame of thick and tall tapering pilasters, containing a sequence of arches in receding and descending order. On the top, two parallel arches of a smooth curvilinear form and two pointed, arched windows frame a space that could have been vaulted or domed, but which presently has a ceiling that was probably added during one of the recent restorations. Such narrow vaulted or domed spaces, located at the top of gate structures and framed by arches with side-arched windows, are totally absent from Bahmani examples, but they recall the arrangement of the loggias found on the upper levels of the ceremonial structures built by the Adil Shahs in Bijapur.22 A sculptural fanlike motif connects the guldastas of this northeastern gate to the wall of the tapering pilaster followed by undulating finials. Both the fanlike motif and the undulating finials are repeated on the qibla (direction to Mecca) side of this mosque (Fig. 5.5). The façade of the qibla wall differs significantly from that in all other mosques of the Bahmani period, since it has no projection to mark the place of the mihrab (Figs. 5.2, 5.3). It is plain, and above this plain central wall are three arched openings followed by a stepped arrangement. Located centrally within this arrangement, yet another – and larger – arched opening screens the zone of transition to the dome and conceals the rooftop stairs, which are joined by the same fanlike motif noted previously at the northeastern gate. These fanlike motifs are rather perplexing, but they are found in Bijapur, Kumatgi and Goa. In Kumatgi they adorn the pendentives that support the domes of the broad hall pavilion at the eastern end of the garden complex, and which are also found in Bijapuri mosques.23 At Old Goa, however, they are freestanding and sculptural, exactly as in the ‘Great Mosque’ of Gulbarga. It is possible that this motif was borrowed from the Adil Shahs by the Portuguese in order to smooth the transition 105

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from one architectural component of their buildings to another. The presence of Adil Shahi motifs in Goa should not be surprising, as a number of Adil Shahi monuments were remodelled and refitted for the use of the Portuguese conquerors in Old Goa, and in the process certain Bijapuri themes were adopted. Fanlike motifs adorn the façades of the Basilica of Bom Jesus (1594–1605) and the church of Nossa Senhora do Amparo (c. 1710), to ease the transition from the side aisles to the higher nave.24

The peripheral bays and corner domes of the ‘Great Mosque’ The first zones encountered on entering the ‘Great Mosque’ are the longitudinal vaulted bays that surround the central domed units on three sides (Figs. 5.2, 5.6). In their four corners are domes supported on corbelled pendentives (Figs. 5.2, 5.3), which play both a decorative and a structural role and which are similar to those of Gulbarga’s Shah Bazaar Jami (c. 1380 and c. 1410). Like the rest of the Great Mosque’s interior, these vaulted bays, with their pointed arches and angular profiles, are totally unadorned – with the exception of a moulding that can be seen only on the two arches located at the junction of the aisles (Fig. 5.6). These low and wide pointed arches distinguishing the lateral bays differ from those belonging to the 75 domed-bay units that precede the monumental dome. The domes in these units are supported, like those of the four corner bays, on corbelled pendentives – an architectural form of transition that is well attested on early Bahmani structures. Wide, pointed, transverse arches that spring from the side wall are known from the courtly halls in Mandu (Hindola Mahal, 1330 or late fifteenth century) and Warangal (Khush Mahal, 1324–31), which date from the Tughluq period.25 They are also found in the two-storeyed audience halls in the Bala Hisar (c. 1380) inside the Fort of Gulbarga, and in Firuzabad26 – and are comparable to the transverse arches in the prayer hall of the Langar-ki Masjid (c. 1430) in Gulbarga.27 In the ‘Great Mosque,’ however, the arches rise from a low, indented projection in the columns’ shafts and are wider at the base, with pronounced ‘shoulders,’ narrowing at the top to a sharp point. This lowrising arch form is a distinctive device in the ceremonial and secular architecture of the Adil Shahs, and is related to the wall, column or pilaster shaft in any one of three distinct ways. Its springing point can be marked by an impost formed from either an indentation on the shaft or a design in relief, or, alternatively, it can follow a more abstract – and perhaps more pleasing – treatment, in which the shaft and the arch form a continuum with no breaks to differentiate between them. The first arrangement is well recorded on Bahmani monuments, and is also found at the monumental 106

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north-facing arched gateway to the Lake of Firuz Shah in the dargāh of Gesu Daraz at Gulbarga.28 At Bijapur, this type of arrangement can be seen in the Ibrahim Rauza, the Jami Masjid and the Haft Mahal, where the third and more abstract construction is also attested;29 while the second scheme is found at the sixteenth-century Chini Mahal in Bijapur.30 The third treatment seems to have been most habitual during the Adil Shahi period, and is found at the Taj Baoli, the gateway to the citadel of Bijapur and the Gagan Mahal, to mention but a few examples.31 It would thus appear that the type of low-rising arch seen at the ‘Great Mosque’ was also found in Adil Shahi buildings. This might suggest that its lateral bays could have been added later – were it not for the four corner domes, the form of which (distinguished by corbelled pendentives) is known from early Bahmani examples, as noted earlier. As these four corner domes are Bahmani, it would follow that the lateral bays that connect them are also Bahmani. If, however, further research should prove that they were in fact added later, then the patrons of these additions must have been unusually sensitive to the architectural styles of their predecessors – which they tried to imitate, probably in order to stress continuity.

The domed mihrab chamber and the Elephant Stables in Vijayanagara The central portion of the interior of the ‘Great Mosque,’ which in more conventional mosques, such as the nearby Shah Bazaar or the Jami at Firuzabad, would have been given over to a courtyard, is here replaced by nine rows of seven square, domed-bay units that run parallel to the qibla wall. A further six domed-bay units wrap around the mihrab chamber on each of its north and south sides (Fig. 5.2). The domed mihrab chamber occupies an area equal to nine of these square, domed-bay units, and the floor of this chamber is significantly raised about 15 cm above that elsewhere in the interior of the mosque. Furthermore, this nine-bay chamber is defined by arches that are taller than elsewhere within the mosque, in order to bridge the transition from surrounding smaller, single-bay domed units to the dome that soars above. The mihrab itself is an assemblage of different elements and, although its design has parallels amongst contemporary examples, the overall composition is alien to the period and thus somewhat confusing (Fig. 5.7). The tri-lobed motif found in the mihrab is well attested on Firuz Shahi examples dating from c. 1420.32 However, the elongated shape of the mihrab is an unusual feature – as are the tri-conch motif that covers its niche, rather than solely its vault, and the merlons and fluted baluster 107

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columns, with their seemingly Europeanizing capitals, which resemble examples from the seventeenth century onwards.33 We conclude, therefore, that at some as yet unknown later date, changes were applied to the mihrab – or, indeed, that the mihrab was added in its entirety at a later date, in accordance with the changing practices and functions of this building. The soaring dome of the ‘Great Mosque,’ the largest of any monument at Gulbarga, is supported by tri-conch squinches and dentilated corbels – architectural features which are well attested from the period of Firuz Shah.34 The design of the supporting drum, however, is unusual: it consists of two unusual and unexpected motifs. The first is a three-dimensional frieze of temple-style columns alternating with arches and joined by merlons of a type attested in Firuz Shahi monuments (Fig. 5.8).35 The second feature is found at the top of each column, and it depicts a pineapple-fruit motif. The numerous whitewashings to which this drum has been subjected have deformed the fruit’s scaly skin and cylindrical shape and have dissipated its regal crown of spiky leaves. Parallels for this design are recorded in monuments dating from the second half of the seventeenth century and the late eighteenth, and from two different regions

Figure 5.8  Gulbarga Fort. Great Mosque. Dome supported on triconch squinches. On the drum a threedimensional architectural motif that has been recently covered in layers of whitewash (photograph by Clare Arni, 2009).


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Figure 5.9  Pineapple motif in the dome of the 1658 mosque in Afzal Khan’s tomb compound.

of the Deccan. The earliest example, from 1658, adorns the dome of the mosque in Afzal Khan’s tomb (Fig. 5.9), which is located a few kilometres northwest of Bijapur’s Shahpur Gate.36 Subsequently, a pineapple motif playfully adorns the roofs of the Paigah tombs at the necropolis of Phisalbanda in Hyderabad (dating from 1791 onwards). The presence of this motif, based on a New World import and known in Deccani architecture only from the late seventeenth century and later, in the frieze that adorns the drum of Gulbarga’s majestic dome supports my contention that this building has been subjected to numerous restorations. None of these, however, concealed the original decorative theme, which can still be perceived and which dates from the time of Firuz Shah Bahmani. Indic in origin, this three-dimensional frieze of columns is a feature not found in early Bahmani architecture, but it is recorded in the Elephant Stables of Vijayanagara (Fig. 5.10). This common motif provides a significant architectural and cultural link between the two most powerful Deccan capitals of the age. In the Elephant Stables at Vijayanagara the domes follow a linear alignment, and the above-mentioned frieze is found on the drums of the two fluted domes that are 109

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Figure 5.10  Vijayanagara. Elephant Stables. Dome decorated with an architectural motif.

symmetrically disposed either side of the central chamber.37 Parallels for these domes can be found in Firuzabad and Gulbarga.38 The domes in the Stables have external radial convex flutings that diminish in width as they ascend,39 exactly as the fluted domes in Firuzabad (c. 1400) and Gulbarga – although there the flutings tend to be wider.40 Another commonality between the Elephant Stables at Vijayanagara and the Firuz Shahi monuments is the juxtaposition of pyramidal vaults and differently shaped domes on the same monument. In Bahmani contexts, these diverse domical forms are either clustered together, as in the hammams at Firuzabad, or follow a linear alignment, as in the bazaar street within Gulbarga Fort.41 The Vijayanagara domes are not, however, exact copies of the Bahmani prototype, for in the hands of the local masons at the Hindu capital these Bahmani domical forms were translated into a stylistic variety that reflects the original examples. The presence of Firuz Shahi lobed domes and their association with differently shaped domical forms suggests that the domes of the Elephant Stables were inspired by Bahmani examples and that the Stables probably date from the first quarter of the 110

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fifteenth century, contemporary to the reigns of Firuz Shah Bahmani (1398–1422) and Deva Raya I of Vijayanagara (1402–22). One feature of the Elephant Stables which differs from Firuz Shahi examples, and is worth noting here, is the two-storeyed rooftop chamber with piers that is open on all sides and is elevated above the central room.42 Wider lobed arched openings occupy the centre of this chamber on all four sides, that on the west overlooking the open plaza that almost certainly served as a maydān, or parade ground for troops and animals.43 This rooftop chamber recalls local pillared halls, even though its pillars are confined to the exterior (their absence from the central area probably dictated by this chamber’s small dimensions). Pillared halls with an ascending sequence of floor levels are known from Hindu palace architecture, and are recorded from Vijayanagara itself.44 The pillared chamber atop the Elephant Stables could have been used as a viewing platform by the raja of Vijayanagara and his guests. Although epigraphic and historical evidence is lacking, we may envisage the possibility that the Stables were built by Deva Raya I and that it was in this columned chamber that he presented to the elite of his empire his guest, Firuz Shah Bahmani, who came to Vijayanagara to secure his marriage with the daughter of the emperor. The monumentality and theatricality of the Elephant Stables would have impressed Firuz Shah with their novel yet familiar architectural ideas. Perhaps Deva Raya hoped that the incorporative architectural style of his Stables would not have escaped the notice of the Bahmani ruler. For, in the Stables, Deva Raya I combined the architectural emblem of Hindu royalty, the pillared chamber or hall, with the domed spaces that signified power in the Islamic tradition, as in the Bahmani royal context. While Deva Raya may have wished to pay homage to the Bahmani ruler, he no doubt would also have wished to affirm that within his realm he was the ultimate lord, as the columned chamber dominates the domed roof of the Stables.45 Firuz Shah, as we know, was the first Muslim ruler to marry a Vijayanagara princess – an event that occurred following his successful campaign against the raja of Vijayanagara in 808 H/1406–7 CE.46 According to Firishta, one of Firuz Shah’s requests was for the most accomplished artists of his father-in-law’s kingdom to accompany the princess to her new abode, explaining perhaps the increase in Indic themes found at Gulbarga and other early Bahmani centres during his reign.47 These new arrivals probably expanded the range of pre-existing architectural and decorative forms employed by the local craftsmen, thereby contributing to the cross-cultural reception of such themes. The Indic frieze on the drum of the dome of the ‘Great Mosque’ of Gulbarga (Fig. 5.8) could have been executed by one of these artisans, as it essentially reproduces 111

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and ‘translates’ in its entirety and in its relative location the original at the Stables (Fig. 5.10). Just as with the domes at the Stables of Vijayanagara, the appearance of this architectural design in the ‘Great Mosque’ is not a manifestation of spolia in se, as it was not a reuse of materials that were removed from their original location or broken into pieces and differently reassembled in a new abode. Nor could this frieze be construed as symbol of conquest and domination. The domes in both the Stables and the ‘Great Mosque’ are artistic citations and a testament to the shared culture that provided a matrix of interpretation for the viewers of both the original and their imitation. These cited forms retained their own identity while at the same time participating in a new artistic statement of power.48 Historians are silent about the ideas that guided the patrons and builders of the early Bahmani period in their choice of architectural designs. The very forms that may confuse us today are also the ones that constitute our main evidence, and help us to identify early Bahmani buildings and their functions. In comparing the ‘Great Mosque’ in the fort with all other mosques of the period, we conclude that it is unique in many respects. Its orientation towards Mecca obviously declares it as a mosque (masjid) – but not as a jāmi‘, since there seems to have been, originally, no minbar. Several features seem to point to a secular, rather than a religious, purpose for the building: its overall plan, the absence of an external projection marking the mihrab niche on the exterior and, again, the lack of a minbar. The enlarged domed chamber for the mihrab and its separation from the rest of the interior by a raised-floor area are both features unrecorded elsewhere from the early Bahmani period – or for that matter, from earlier Khalji and Tughluq examples, in which an enlarged dome or an īwān preceded the mihrab of a mosque. In the Quwwatu’l-Islam in Delhi, the dome in front of the mihrab is larger than those that roof the other bays.49 According to Phillip Wagoner, this latter monument is the inspiration for a whole series of ‘conquest mosques’ which were erected at Ajmer, Daulatabad, Warangal and other sites.50 In other examples, an īwān preceding a domed chamber signifies the place of the mihrab, as in the Begampuri Mosque in Delhi and the Adina Mosque in Pandua.51 However, neither of these Tughluq devices – the enlarged dome in front of the mihrab, nor the īwān preceding the domed chamber – seem to have been borrowed by the Bahmanis, who generally preferred undifferentiated layouts (such as the Shah Bazaar Jami and the multiple-bay mosques) roofed by identically sized domes – with the single exception of the ‘Great Mosque’ at Gulbarga. It is the unique architectural character of this particular monument that has prompted me to explore the possibility of its use for different functions.


the ‘great mosque’ at gulbarga

The ‘Great Mosque’ as a royal reception hall The overall plan of the ‘Great Mosque’ imitates a hypostyle space; and the raised platform against the qibla wall on the western side of the building, covered by a soaring dome, is more appropriate to a throne room than a mihrab area. The absence of a minbar and other smaller mihrabs along the qibla wall underscores my contention that this building may not have been intended primarily as a place of worship, though it could have been used as such since it does face Mecca. Its location must also be considered. The ‘Great Mosque’ is located within the Gulbarga Fort, where it was not accessible to the general public, and therefore was unlikely to have been used as a congregational mosque. Moreover, the nearby Shah Bazaar Jami was already in existence in Gulbarga to fulfill that particular need. The ‘Great Mosque’ is also located immediately southwest of an earlier audience hall that could have served as its ceremonial entrance gate.52 Mention should also be made here of the fact that the southern side of the platform on which the mosque is elevated is wider than the northern side, indicating perhaps that the tented camp of the royal army could have been located on this side. From such a platform, the ruler could have reviewed the assembled troops and animals. Let us now turn to the domed chamber in front of the mihrab of the ‘Great Mosque.’ According to Oleg Grabar, domes, unlike qibla walls and mihrabs with their obvious liturgical connotations, were not standard features of mosques. Domes served to emphasize the place of the ruler and buildings incorporating them should probably be related to palace architecture – especially in the absence of an original mihrab, as is the case in this building.53 The only explicitly liturgical expression at the ‘Great Mosque’ was its direction. In India, however, palaces could assume different orientations, as attested both in local traditions and from the few examples we have from soon after the Islamic conquest and also later.54 In Tughluqabad, the audience/throne room had a north–south direction, as did the provincial audience hall in Warangal.55 Later, under the Mughals, a southeasterly orientation is found. This was intentional, in order to ensure that the jharokā or window for official appearances, on the east and the mihrab to the west were on the same axis, and conformed to the idea of qarīna (counter-image), in which the jharokā expressed the emperor’s own qibla as opposed to that of Mecca.56 Nor should we forget the ‘īdgāh (open-air prayer platform) in Gulbarga, with its imposing minbar that could have been used as a throne: indeed it is big enough to accommodate a large cushion, while stone elements on both sides were probably meant to hold timber rods that must have supported a canopy in some precious material. The Gulbarga ‘īdgāh resembles the better-preserved example at 113

* 114

Figure 5.11  Elichpur, ‘īdgāh (photograph by Klaus Rötzer, 2007).

Elichpur (Fig. 5.11), where the seat is covered by a dome surrounded by tall arches on three sides, recalling the disposition of the domed space in the ‘Great Mosque’ of Gulbarga.57 Thus, the use, by rulers, of spaces with an east–west alignment for ceremonial activities is not unknown in the Subcontinent, both before and after the Bahmanis. In a number of palaces throughout the Islamic world – from the Palace of the Abbasids in Samarra to the Ilkhanid complex at Takht-i Sulayman, or Mamluk palaces in Cairo – the domed chamber signified the presence of the ruler and gave architectural expression to his ‘high rank, pre-eminence and authority.’58 The raised platform beneath a dome had a similar significance, and is recorded from examples of courtly architecture elsewhere but unknown from buildings with religious associations. At the audience hall in Tughluqabad, a raised chamber at the back of the royal īwān (vaulted hall with one opening to the outside) signified the place of the throne;59 a similar disposition is found in the audience halls in Mandu and Warangal.60 If the combination of raised platform and dome emphasizes places of royal presence and clearly relates to courtly architecture, the same may be said of the multicolumned hypostyle hall.

The Visual World of Muslim India



the ‘great mosque’ at gulbarga

We might here recall Ibn Battuta’s description of the Palace of Muhammad Tughluq as a hazār ustūn (that is, hazār sutūn) – an immense hall; in Persian, literally ‘a thousand pillars’ – which, according to Anthony Welch, is the now ruined Bijai Mandir in Delhi.61 Battuta recounted how it was located at the end of a series of courtyards entered by different gates: ‘The pillars are of painted wood and support a wooden roof most exquisitely carved. The people sit under this, and it is in this hall that the sultan sits for public audiences…’ A little later, this same traveller informs us that the sultan sat on a ‘raised seat standing on a dais carpeted in white, with a large cushion behind him and two others as arm-rests on his right and left.’ The different officials of the court assembled in front of him in such a way that their rank was defined in spatial terms.62 In medieval Islamic lore, it is Persepolis that was described as chihil sutūn or hazār sutūn. This was the conceptual model for palaces in both Muslim and non-Muslim dynasties eager to adopt Islamicate styles.63 At Vijayanagara, where Islamicate ideas were current, the Persian envoy Abdurrazzaq saw a hypostyle audience hall, which he described as a splendid chihil sutūn.64 Ulugh Beg (r. 850 H/1447 CE–853 H/1449 CE) built a chihil sutūn in Samarkand, and before him Shahrukh (r. 807 H/1405 CE–​ 850 H/1447 CE) in Herat.65 Medieval Asian rulers travelled with their mobile palaces, assembled with a ‘thousand gold pegs’ and light enough to carry.66 Later, the dawlat khāna-i khaṣṣ u ‘ām of the Mughal emperor Shahjahan was effectively a stone translation of the chihil sutūn plan.67 It would thus seem that this ancient Iranian symbol of power and majesty was widely known in the Eastern Islamic lands from at least the Timurid period, as was the association of the dome with sovereignty – and both these architectural emblems of power were combined in the ‘Great Mosque’ at Gulbarga. Admittedly, the Great Mosque is not an exact copy of the Apadana in Persepolis, the hazār sutūn of the Tughluqs in Delhi described by Ibn Battuta or the chihil sutūn at Vijayanagara. Neither are these palace structures – or, for that matter, much later examples from the reign of Shahjahan – direct copies of each other; yet they all partake of Persianate culture and concepts of kingship, as they all utilize the principle of the multi-columned hall. Whether such a space actually had ‘one thousand columns’ or 129, as in the case of the ‘Great Mosque,’ is not important. What is significant is that they possess the name or a selected feature, which was enough to evoke the original or its associations – especially when these visual manifestations of mythical power were also transmitted by literary means.68 Such was the case with the fabled rulers of Iran, whose achievements were popularized by the Shāhnāma of Firdausi, an epic that Firuz Shah read in the company of his Iranian vizier and teacher, Fazlullah Inju.69 115

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In a number of lapidary inscriptions from both Gulbarga and Bidar, the Bahmani kings are referred to as heirs to the kingdom of Solomon or as the Solomon of the time, and as the ‘world-maintaining king,’ the ‘shelter of religion,’ the ‘sultan, who [wears or holds the] signet of Jamshid.’70 These references suggest that the dual aspirations of temporal and spiritual rule were concepts that were not foreign to the Bahmani sultans. The conscious association of the Bahmani rulers with those of ancient Iran has been further corroborated by the inscriptions preserved in the Shah Darwaza at Sagar. According to the two inscriptions embedded in the walls next to its southern and northern entrances, we learn that this darwāza, or gate, was built by Firuz Shah in 810 H / 1407–8 CE. Firuz Shah is extolled as a universal ruler, and the ‘lofty arches’ of the Shah Darwaza compared to the Taq-i Kisra in Ctesiphon.71 Further concepts of world kingship, with paradisiacal associations, are expressed in the second inscription, located on the western façade – as are Firuz Shah’s spiritual ambitions, since he is said to contain within himself ‘the mystery of the world.’ This eulogy, meant to flatter the ruler, nonetheless expresses aspirations shared by most medieval Islamic sovereigns. It positions Firuz Shah amongst his peers, the other ‘Universal Rulers’ of the time, and dissipates any doubts one might have had about his aspirations for universal kingship with spiritual overtones.72 In the case of the ‘Great Mosque’ such testimonies are absent, but the plan of the building clearly indicates that it belongs to a whole group of ceremonial structures inspired by, and perpetuating a lineage initiated in, Persepolis, and disseminated thanks to the poems of Sa‘di and the epic of the Shāhnāma. The ‘Great Mosque’ also perpetuates the form of the multicolumned hall or maṇḍapa – an example familiar in local Indian building practices, albeit one translated here into an Islamic model by the creative addition of domes. This translated maṇḍapa indicates a convergence of, and similarity between, the Indic and Islamicate languages of architecture, and reflects the polyvalent cultural forms noted earlier when discussing the dome. It is the result of a dialogue that contributed to a transcultural matrix, which could be understood by the elites of both the Bahmani kingdom and that of the rajas of Vijayanagara.73 In the ‘Great Mosque,’ two concepts were ingeniously combined: one royal, the other religious. The east–west alignment relates to a mosque, while its soaring dome provides a reference to overarching royal power. The same dual connotations are offered by the multicolumned hall, which envelops the domed space and evokes a hazār sutūn – not only with its Persian references but also with its mystical aspirations. For the chihil sutūn, according to Persian lore, was the throne of Jamshid and that of Solomon – imbued with spiritual overtones. 116

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The uniqueness, scale and alignment of the ‘Great Mosque’ were probably sufficient to express that this was the most important ceremonial hall of the Bahmani kingdom – and thus the one that denoted the special overtones of universality which the ruler wanted to attribute to his symbolic aspirations. The only building that displays such qualities is the hazār sutūn of Firuz Shah Bahmani in Gulbarga.

Notes 1 Helen Philon, ‘Introduction,’ in Silent Splendour: Palaces of the Deccan 14th–19th centuries, ed. Helen Philon (Mumbai, 2010), 14, fig.1. 2 Helen Philon, ‘Religious and Royal Architecture of the Early Bahmani Period (748/1347–825/1423), Deccan, India’ (Ph.D. thesis, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, 2005), 69–71 and 72–74. 3 Phillip B. Wagoner and John Henry Rice, ‘From Delhi to the Deccan: newly discovered Tughluq monuments at Warangal-Sult̤ ānpūr and the beginnings of Indo-Islamic architecture in southern India,’ Artibus Asiae 61/1 (2001), 81. 4 The British Library holds Colin Mackenzie’s manuscript: Geographical Statistical and Historical Materials Collected in the Deckan and Maratha Country; vol. 43 mentions Gulbarga, and includes his drawing Wd 604: ‘East View of Gulbarga.’ Philon, ‘Introduction,’ in Silent Splendour, 15, fig. 2. 5 James Fergusson, History of Indian and Eastern Architecture, vol. 2 (London, 1910), 263–66; Taylor Meadows, A Students’ Manual of the History of India (London, 1877), 166; Percy Brown, Indian Architecture (Islamic Period) (Bombay, 1956), 68; Ghulam Yazdani, ‘The Great Mosque of Gulbarga,’ Islamic Culture 2 (1928), 14–21. 6 T.W. Haig, ‘Inscriptions in Gulbarga,’ in Epigraphia Indo-Moslemica, ed. E.D. Ross (Calcutta, 1907–8), 1–2. The inscription is in Arabic, and is set on the right side of the portal: ‘[…] Rafi’ son of Shams son of Mansur al-Qazwini of God’s servants the most in need of His mercy and forgiveness, by His favouring inspiration and exalted grace built this mosque in the reign of the great, the invincible and honoured king Abû’l Muzaffar Muhammad Shah, the Sultan, son of the Sultan, may God strengthen the pillars of his kingdom […] On the 4th of the first month of the year 769 […].’ See also Ziyaud-Din A. Desai, A Topographical List of Arabic, Persian and Urdu Inscriptions of South India (New Delhi, 1989), 55, no. 560. 7 Ziyaud-Din A. Desai, ‘The Bahmanis,’ in History of Medieval Deccan (1295–1724), ed. H.K. Sherwani and P.M. Joshi, vol. 2 (Hyderabad, 1974), 234, 240. 8 Ziyaud-Din A. Desai, ‘Islamic Inscriptions: Their Bearing on Monuments,’ in Indian Epigraphy, ed. F.M. Asher and G.S. Gai (New Delhi, 1985), 251–57. 9 Elizabeth S. Merklinger, ‘Gulbarga,’ in Islamic Heritage of the Deccan, ed. George Michell (Bombay,


The Visual World of Muslim India 1986), 26–41. In an earlier publication, Merklinger had accepted the previously held 769 H /1367 CE date: see her Indian Islamic Architecture: The Deccan 1347–1686 (Warminster, 1981), 30; George Michell and Richard Eaton, Firūzābād: Palace City of the Deccan (Oxford, 1992), 70; George Michell and Mark Zebrowski, Architecture and Art of the Deccan Sultanates, vol. 1.7 of The New Cambridge History of India (Cambridge, 1999), 66; and Philon, ‘Religious and Royal Architecture,’ 121–23. 10 Merklinger, ‘Gulbarga,’ 26–41; id., Sultanate Architecture of Pre-Mughal India (New Delhi, 2005), 126. 11 Mehrdad Shokoohy, Muslim Architecture of South India: The Sultanate of Ma‘abar and the Traditions of the Maritime Settlers on the Malabar and Coromandel Coasts (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa) (London/ New York, 2003), 299–304; Desai, ‘The Bahmanis,’ 234, 240. 12 Philon, ‘Religious and Royal Architecture,’ 111. 13 Michell and Eaton, Firūzābād, 42–44, 51, 58–60; Philon, ‘Religious and Royal Architecture,’ 119–27, 236–46. The building types introduced by Firuz Shah are the hammams, the cross-in-square-plan structure at the dargāh of Khalifaturrahman, the gate/palace in Sagar and, I hereby propose, the ‘Great Mosque’ / Hazar Sutun in Gulbarga. 14 See Firishta, History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India, tr. John Briggs, vol. 2 (London, 1929; repr. New Delhi, 1981), 237–39. 15 Merklinger, ‘Gulbarga,’ 31–32; Michell and Zebrowski, Deccan Sultanates, 86–87. 16 Klaus Rötzer, ‘Fortifications;’ Philon, Silent Splendour, 30. 17 Michell and Zebrowski, Deccan Sultanates, 94; Firishta, History of the Rise, vol. 3, 27–28, 43, 45, 54. The Mughals entered Gulbarga in 1677: see P.M. Joshi, ‘The ‘Ādil Shāhīs and The Barīdis,’ in History of Medieval Deccan, vol. 1, 385, 391. For fluted baluster columns, see Ebba Koch, Mughal Art and Imperial Ideology, Collected Essays (New Delhi, 2001), 38–60, figs. 3.6 and 3.16; Abdul Gani Imaratwale, History of Bijapur Subah (1686–1885) (New Delhi, 2007), 263–65. Fluted baluster columns can also be seen at the Mughal pavilion with its bangla roof that was added to the Adil Shahi arch which opened onto the Lake of Firuz Shah at the dargāh of Gesu Daraz: see Merklinger, Indian Islamic Architecture, 112, fig. 45; id., ‘Gulbarga,’ 39, fig.13. 18 Compare Michell and Eaton, Firūzābād, figs. 29–31; Philon, ‘Religious and Royal Architecture,’ pl. 308; and Merklinger, ‘Gulbarga,’ 37–38. In Bijapur, jālīs are also evident: see Henry Cousens, Bījāpūr and Its Architectural Remains: With an Historical Outline of the ‘Adil Shahi Dynasty, Archaeological Survey of India, New Imperial Series 37 (Bombay, 1916; repr. Delhi, 1996), pl. XXIII. 19 Michell and Eaton, Firūzābād, figs. 16, 48. 20 Philon, ‘Religious and Royal Architecture,’ 236, 244–46, 250–51; id., ‘Daulatabad, Gulbarga, Firuzabad and Sagar under the Early Bahmanis (1347–1422),’ in Silent Splendour, 41–42. 21 There are two inscriptions embedded in the walls of this portal. On the right is the one with the date 769 H / 1367 CE in Arabic, mentioned above; on the left wall is another (also in Arabic), from 824 H / 1421–22 CE. 22 Mark Brand, ‘Bijapur under the Adil Shahis (1491–1686),’ in Philon, Silent Splendour, 69 and 73–75.


the ‘great mosque’ at gulbarga 23 See Cousens, Bījāpūr, 50, fig. 11 and pl. XXIII. 24 David Martin Kowal, ‘The Evolution of Ecclesiastical Architecture in Portuguese Goa,’ in India and Portugal, Cultural Interactions, ed. José Pereira and Pratapaditya Pal (Mumbai, 2001), 71, 73, 78. 25 Wagoner and Rice, ‘From Delhi to the Deccan,’ 80–84 and figs. 2–12. It is there argued (83) that the Hindola Mahal in Mandu could date from c. 1330, thus differing from Yazdani’s dating to the late fifteenth century: see Ghulam Yazdani, Mandū: The City of Joy (Oxford, 1929), 70–74. 26 Michell and Eaton, Firūzābād, figs. 42, 44; Helen Philon, ‘Introduction,’ in Silent Splendour, 18, fig. 4. 27 Philon, ‘Religious and Royal Architecture,’ pls. 112, 113. 28 John Burton-Page, ‘Bijapur,’ in Michell, Islamic Heritage, pls. 5, 7; Merklinger, ‘Gulbarga,’ pl. 15. 29 Burton-Page, ‘Bijapur,’ figs. 7, 9, 12, 18. 30 Brand, ‘Bijapur,’ 6, fig. 1. 31 Burton-Page, ‘Bijapur,’ figs. 5, 7, 9; Michell and Zebrowski, Deccani Sultanates, fig. 23; Brand, ‘Bijapur,’ 67, fig. 2. 32 Philon, ‘Religious and Royal Architecture,’ pls. 309–17 (tomb of Firuz Shah), pl. 326 (Chor Gumbad) and pls. 337A-B (Firuz Shahi baoli in Holkonda). See also id., ‘Early Bahmani Mihrabs in Gulbarga, Deccan,’ in Sifting Sands, Reading Signs: Studies in Honour of Professor Géza Fehérvári, ed. Patricia L. Baker and Barbara Brend (London, 2006), fig. 6. 33 For fluted baluster columns, see Koch, Mughal Art, 38–60 and figs. 3.6, 10, 12. 34 See note 31. 35 Philon, ‘Religious and Royal Architecture,’ fig. 143 (tomb of Firuz Shah). 36 Cousens, Bījāpūr, 97–98. 37 George Michell, The Vijayanagara Courtly Style: Incorporation and Synthesis in the Royal Architecture of Southern India, 15th–17th Centuries (New Delhi, 1992), fig. 32c, I, pl. 39. 38 Philon, ‘Religious and Royal Architecture,’ pls. 404, 409A-B; Michell and Eaton, Firūzābād, fig. 28. 39 Michell, Courtly Style, 21; Helen Philon, ‘Plaster Decoration on Sultanate-styled Courtly Buildings,’ in New Light on Hampi, ed. John M. Fritz and George Michell (Mumbai, 2001), 76–77. 40 Michell and Eaton, Firūzābād, fig. 28. 41 Michell and Eaton, Firūzābād, figs. 14 and 28. See also Michell, Courtly Style, fig.32 and pl. 39. 42 Michell, Courtly Style, fig. 32f. 43 Michell, Courtly Style, fig. 32 and pl. 39; Philon, ‘Plaster Decoration,’ 75–78. 44 George Michell, Architecture And Art of Southern India: Vijayanagara and the Successor States, vol. I.6 of The New Cambridge History of India (Cambridge/New York, 1995), 128–40; Philon, ‘Introduction,’ in Silent Splendour (Mumbai, 2010) 21–23. 45 Michell, Courtly Style, 21–22, fig. 32; Philon, ‘Plaster Decoration,’ 75–78. 46 Firishta, History of the Rise, 237–39. 47 Cf. Michell and Eaton, Firūzābād, fig. 18; Philon, ‘Bahmani Mihrabs,’ 88–90.


The Visual World of Muslim India 48 See Dale Kinney, ‘“Spolia Damnatio” and “Renovatio Memoriae”,’ Memoirs of the American Academy of Rome, 42 (1997), 129–37; Finbarr Barry Flood, ‘Image against Nature: Spolia as Apotropaia in Byzantium and the dār al-Islām,’ The Medieval History Journal 9/1 (2006), 145–47. See also Dale Kinney, ‘Roman Architectural Spolia,’ Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 145/2 (2001), 13 (‘Spolia’ implies violent removal from a violated source); Phillip B. Wagoner, ‘Retrieving the Chalukyan Past: The Politics of Architecture Reuse in the SixteenthCentury Deccan,’ South Asian Studies 23 (2007), 17 and 19–23; Richard Brilliant, ‘I piedistalli del giardino di Boboli: spolia in se, spolia in re,’ Prospettiva 31 (1982), 2–17; Finbarr B. Flood, Objects of Translation: Material Culture and Medieval ‘Hindu-Muslim’ Encounter (Princeton 2009), esp. 152–89. 49 Christopher Tadgell, The History of Architecture in India (London, 1990), 157, fig. 176. 50 Wagoner and Rice, ‘From Delhi to the Deccan,’ 89–90. 51 Ibid., 89–92. 52 This was the case in Delhi, where a series of gates preceded the hazār sutūn – see The Travels of Ibn Battutah, ed. Tim Mackintosh-Smith (London, 2003), 168 – and the same was true at Tughluqabad: see Mehrdad and Natalie H. Shokoohy, ‘Tughluqabad, The Earliest Surviving Town of The Delhi Sultanate,’ Bulletin of the School of Oriental And African Studies, 57/3 (1994), 532–36. 53 Oleg Grabar, ‘The Islamic Dome, Some Considerations,’ Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 22/4 (1963), 195; and id., ‘The Earliest Islamic Commemorative Structures, Notes and Documents,’ Ars Orientalis 6 (1966), 44. 54 Phillip B. Wagoner, ‘From the Throne of Jamshid to the City of Victory: Islamicate Contributions to the City Plan of Vijayanagara’ (paper presented at the Conference on Religion in South India, Raleigh, North Carolina, June 1998, typescript), 13. 55 Wagoner and Rice, ‘From Delhi to the Deccan,’ 77–117, fig. 2; Shokoohy, Muslim Architecture of South India, 300. 56 Koch, Mughal Art, 249–53. 57 Merklinger, Sultanate Architecture, fig. 179; Philon, ‘Religious and Royal Architecture,’ pls. 121–25. 58 Oleg Grabar, ‘Palaces, Citadels and Fortifications,’ in Architecture of the Islamic World, ed. George Michell (London 1978), 72–73, mentions the dome in the Abbasid palace in Baghdad; Frederick P. Bargeburh, ‘The Alhambra Palace of the Eleventh Century,’ Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 19/3–4 (London 1956), 208–12; Terry Allen, ‘The Tombs of the ‘Abbāsid Caliphs in Baghdād,’ Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 46/3 (London 1983), 430–31; Abbas Daneshvari, Medieval Tomb Towers of Iran: An Iconographical Study (Lexington, KY, 1986), 72; Nasser Rabbat, The Citadel of Cairo: A New Interpretation of Royal Mamluk Architecture (Leiden, 1995), 208; Sheila S. Blair, ‘The Ilkhanid Palace,’ in Pre-Modern Islamic Palaces, ed. Gülru Necipoğlu, vol. 23 of Ars Orientalis (1993), 239–48; Yasser Tabbaa, The Transformation of Islamic Art during the Sunni Revival (London, 2002), 162.


the ‘great mosque’ at gulbarga 59 Shokoohy and Shokoohy, ‘Tughluqabad,’ 535. See also Jonathan M. Bloom, ‘The “Qubbat al-Khaḍrā’” and the Iconography of Height in Early Islamic Architecture,’ in Pre-Modern Islamic Palaces, ed. Gülru Necipoğlu, vol. 23 of Ars Orientalis (1993), 135–38, where he discusses the elevated reception halls and the concept of the ‘heavenly dome.’ 60 Wagoner and Rice, ‘From Delhi to the Deccan,’ 80. 61 Ibn Battutah, 168; Anthony Welch and Howard Crane, ‘The Tughluqs: Master Builders of the Delhi Sultanate,’ Muqarnas 1 (1983), 148. For an alternative interpretation, see Laura E. Parodi, ‘From tooy to darbār. Materials for a History of Mughal Audiences and their Depictions,’ in Ratnamala (Garland of Gems): Art between Mughals, Rajputs, Europe and the Far East, ed. Joachim K. Bautze and Rosamaria Cimino (Ravenna, 2010), 51–76. 62 Ibn Battutah, 168–69. 63 Wagoner, ‘From the Throne of Jamshid,’ 19, discusses the Mahanavami platform at Vijayanagara, comparing the remains of the two hypostyle halls found there to the Apadana at Persepolis – but also to local traditions that might have influenced the Vijayanagara throne room. Islamic examples are discussed by Koch in Mughal Art, 248. 64 ‘Journey of Abd-Er-Razzak,’ in India in the Fifteenth Century. Being a Collection of Narratives of Voyages to India in the Century Preceding the Portuguese Discovery of the Cape of Good Hope, ed. R. H. Major (New York, 1857), 25; John M. Fritz et al., Where Kings and Gods Meet: The Royal Centre at Vijayanagara, India (Tucson, AZ, 1985), 102; Wheeler M. Thackston, A Century of Princes. Sources of Timurid History (Cambridge, MA, 1989), 308. 65 Bernard O’Kane, ‘From Tents to Pavilions: Royal Mobility and Persian Palace Design,’ in Pre-Modern Islamic Palaces, ed. Gülru Necipoğlu, vol. 23 of Ars Orientalis (1993), 254. 66 Koch, Mughal Art, 239–44. 67 Koch, Mughal Art, 243. 68 Richard Krautheimer, ‘Introduction to an “Iconography of medieval Architecture”,’ Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 5 (1942), 15; Koch, Mughal Art, 248, 269. 69 Persepolis is associated in the Shāhnāma of Firdausi with Jamshid, rather than with the Achaemenids, and was known as Takht-i Jamshīd. The Arab tradition regarded Persepolis as either the throne or masjid of Solomon. By the fifteenth century, Jamshid and Solomon were amalgamated. See Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani, ‘Le Royaume de Salomon. Les Inscriptions Persanes des sites Achéménides,’ Sociétés et Cultures, vol. 1 of Le Monde Iranien et l’Islam (1971), 18–19, 25 and 26–29; Koch, Mughal Art, 239–48; Philon, ‘Religious and Royal Architecture,’ 51; Firishta, History of the Rise, 225. 70 Desai, Topographical List, 138 and nos. 1415–1416; A.A. Kadiri, ‘Inscriptions of the Bahmanis of Deccan,’ in Epigraphia Indica Arabic and Persian Supplement 1964 (in continuation of the series Epigraphia Indo-Moslemica), ed. Ziyaud-Din A. Desai (Delhi, 1966), 26, 29, 31. 71 Ghulam Yazdani, ‘Inscriptions of Shāhpūr, Gogī and Sagar, Gulbarga District,’ Epigraphia IndoMoslemica (1931–32), 9–12. Of the two inscriptions, only the one on the eastern façade refers to


The Visual World of Muslim India Ctesiphon. The Palace of Ctesiphon was also known as Taq-i Kisra. The gate was built by the kotwāl of Sagar for Firuz Shah: see Philon, Silent Splendour, 36–37. 72 Yazdani, ‘Inscriptions,’ 13, 14: ‘By the command of Firoz Shah the great, who is the king of exalted kings. He is of auspicious birth and of triumphant fortune The royal gateway has been built with such an arch that the arch of Ctesiphon is lost in its height Fahim Fath Sultani has built it: he is the Kotwal [commander] of this great city The year was 810 h [1407 CE ]…’

The second inscription on the eastern façade reads: ‘…Every morning and evening many people raise their hands in prayer in remembrance of the name of the world-conquering king as a token of gratitude In an auspicious time a wonderful gateway has been built; it is lofty and sublime and illuminated like heaven. During the reign of the King the possessor of the world, the just [who] is Firoz Shah the generous, the victorious …has contained the mystery of the world… is perfumed with musk and red rose A gate with a series of arches resounding with the sweet warblings, a second Paradise another match of which is not to be found The builder of this gateway is the Kotwal [commander], I mean Fahim the servant of the just emperor From the flight of the Prophet it was the year 810 h [1407–8 CE ] that this building like which there are a few in the world was completed. O God grant him a long life like that of Noah: to this king who is a unique bestower of kingdoms.’

73 Wagoner, ‘From the Throne of Jamshid,’ 22–24; id., ‘Fortuitous convergences and essential ambiguities: Transcultural political elites in the medieval Deccan,’ International Journal of Hindu Studies 3/3 (1999), 241–64.


6 D ecca ni Gu ns Features and Ornamentation

—Klaus Rötzer—


he ‘guns’ discussed in this essay were heavy firearms, pieces of ordnance, not hand weapons. From about 1400 till 1687 CE, date of the capture of Golconda and the annexation of the whole Deccan to the Mughal Empire, the development of artillery using gunpowder was different in the Deccan and northern India. The use of gunpowder was probably introduced to the Deccan from Southeast Asia, by sea.1 European influence through the Portuguese connection can be traced, but does not seem to have been a very significant factor.2 Ottoman influence on the other hand was decisive from about the middle of the sixteenth century, at least. All the guns made in the Deccan before 1687 were the product of craftsmen working in forges. That is to say, the specimens preserved on fortifications or in museums are not standardized items produced by gun foundries: each heavy gun has its own characteristics. To highlight the specific features of the Deccani guns, it may be useful to compare Deccani and European artillery. For the purposes of this essay, the following four aspects are especially important. Firstly, in Europe the metal used in gun manufacture from c. 1350 to 1450 was wrought iron, but from about the middle of the fifteenth century cast bronze was preferred, and one century later cast iron also came in use.3 In the Deccan most of the guns were made from hoops of iron hammer-welded onto iron bars. Cast-bronze guns were uncommon; cast iron was used only from about the end of the eighteenth century. Secondly, in Europe the emphasis on bigger and bigger guns was given up towards the end of the fifteenth century; in France, small bronze guns positioned together to 123

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form a battery and firing iron balls replaced the monster wrought-iron weapons from about 1450. In the Deccan however, under Ottoman influence, the monsters came into use only around 1550 and were operating until the fall of Golconda in 1687. Thirdly, in Europe the use of stone balls was discontinued during the fifteenth century, and replaced by iron shot. In the Deccan granite or basalt balls were the common shot during all the period in question. Iron shot was used with great success by Alamgir I with two metal guns during the sieges of Bijapur and Golconda in 1686 and 1687: the Mughals were more pragmatic than the Deccani sultans (Fig. 6.2c). Last but not least, one should consider the carriage on which the gun was placed and operated. In Europe the crude initial wooden platform on which the gun rested was replaced about the mid-fifteenth century by a wheeled carriage and much attention was paid to the improvement of this support during the following centuries. It obviously facilitated the mobility of the artillery when the army was on the march; it was provided with devices to ease and improve the aiming process; it was also designed so as to absorb the recoil when the gun was discharged. In the Deccan the situation was different, although one has to consider that our documentation is limited to specimens scattered nowadays inside forts or on city walls. All these guns made up fixed artillery intended to defend strongholds, not moving field artillery. The said guns, whether heavy or light, were all set on forked iron pivots or on wooden structures or on a granite pedestal4 revolving on an iron axis, never on wheeled carriages. To master the recoil, a semi-circular masonry wall was built at the rear of the working area of the gun; in the case of a high cavalier from where it was intended to fire in all directions, the circular working area of the gun was limited by a channel in which wooden planks were fixed just behind the gun to absorb the recoil and prevent the fork or the pivot of the carriage from breaking. The issue is to discover the reasons behind these discrepancies. What action or effect did the Deccani rulers and people expect from their artillery? And how much were they ready to pay for it? The use of iron for the guns and stone for the shots could be due to economical reasons. Iron was cheaper than copper and tin; expert blacksmiths with a lot of practical experience were locally available.5 Similarly, for the defence of a fort, the placement of heavy guns on a pivot rather than a wheeled carriage made perfect sense, as it obviously provided an original solution to the recoil problem. However, the predilection for monster guns instead of high-performance small ones from 1550 onwards remains to be explained. There are strong indications that these monsters must have been as much a force in the mind as on the ground. Understanding this point is essential to an assessment of Deccani guns and their history. 124

deccani guns

In a nutshell, by the end of the fifteenth century the French developed a field artillery in order to tear down castles and strongholds. At approximately the same time the Portuguese engineered fearsome naval artillery intended to sink enemy ships and bombard coastal forts in order to subjugate the Arabian Sea. For these purposes the guns had to be small, easily movable and powerful, or in other words, capable of firing iron balls at a very high speed. The purpose of the Deccani guns was different. They were intended essentially to shield forts and towns. The heavy pieces were placed on high cavaliers or at the top of a hill, as at Daulatabad for example; they towered above the countryside. Their aim was to frighten, to keep at a distance any category of enemies. The light pieces charged with a kind of grape shot were used as a last resort against assaulting troops. The European artillery, then, was in essence aggressive and destructive; the Deccani one was basically repellent: its first task was to keep enemies at a distance.

The five guns of Bidar and their background The five guns of Bidar examined in this essay still lie on their respective cavaliers: they are too heavy even to be moved to the museum of Bidar Fort a short distance away. Four are in the fort; one is on a bastion of the city wall called Munda Burj. The sites where they were set up tell us about their proposed function. Their stone balls had to prevent the enemy from occupying strategic positions. These positions are located on the laterite table land southwest of the city, on a hill rising above the plain northwest of the fort, and the area around a tank in the valley northeast of the fort. Calligraphic panels engraved on these guns give us the date and place of manufacture, the name and titles of the reigning Barid Shahi ruler, the name of the calligrapher in one instance, the weight of gunpowder for every shot, the weight of the ball: as it were, they provide an ‘identity card’ for each gun.6 We also find verses of the Koran promising victory to the faithful through divine help. In one instance, on the Fath Lashkar (Purana Qila), Persian poetry links the gun with a helpful dragon holding the arch-villain Pashang in its mouth, and with a furious snake swallowing the heads of the enemies. This point will be further discussed below. The dates of manufacture are of great importance because, in the Deccan, few guns bear one. The five pieces of Bidar allow us to follow the development of heavy artillery in the Deccan after the battle of Talikota (1564–65). The oldest piece, set on the Kala Burj, was forged in 1569; the next, placed on a seven-sided laterite cavalier near the Mandu Darwaza, in 1572; both pieces date from the reign of Ali Barid (r. 1542–80). The Fath Lashkar in the Purana Qila dates back to 1580. The Top-i Haidari on the Lal 125

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Burj was forged in 1587. Both are smaller than the earlier ones, but still clumsy and heavy artillery. The Mahmud Shahi on the Munda Burj, dated 1591, was part of the defence system of the city. It is a long piece of ordnance, meant to fire at long range. Therefore all of them were forged during a period of 22 years, from 1569 to 1591. They show signs of development from a technical point of view – an aspect that will be explored briefly in the next paragraph. Their decoration, however, is quite uniform; it exemplifies the same technique and style, more or less florid.

Evolution of Deccani artillery It is worth considering how this span of 22 years fits into the history of the development of Deccani artillery. Our documentation is essentially based on a survey of guns still lying in forts, on bastions and cavaliers built to hold them. In particular, we shall consider the heavy and light artillery used in the Deccan from the end of the fourteenth century till the fall of Golconda in 1687. At the outset we have a crude gun lying on the city wall of Bidar, near the Fath Darwaza (Fig. 6.1a). It is an archaic iron bombard reinforced by wrought-iron hoops, 1.80 m long, cone-shaped, tapering towards the breech, without trunnions or lifting rings; the inside of the piece shows two sections: a firing chamber with the vent at the bottom, and a larger bore in the shape of a flattened cone. The projectile fired was probably not a stone ball but a kind of grape shot, effective against troops in the open at close range. The lip of the muzzle is inscribed, but we have not been able to decipher the date. The inscription in this case is a crude one, giving useful information but not meant to adorn the gun: this gun is a plain war item with no decorative overtones. Another piece of similar design may be seen in the fort of Daulatabad. The next type manufactured during the fifteenth century (Figs. 6.1b and 6.1c) seems to have been a long wrought-iron cannon assembled from bars and hoops hammerwelded together. It is characterized by an ovoid breech end, two rows of rings to fix the barrel to its carriage with ropes, and slender trunnions, probably added later. Bore and chamber are one and the same space. The projectile was either a stone ball to be fired at a long range, or a kind of grape shot against assaulting soldiers. Following this type are some few breech-loaders of medium size, probably made in the first half of the sixteenth century but still used later on. They are wrought-iron guns made up of two parts: a smaller breech and a larger barrel (Fig. 6.1e). The two parts were not screwed together as in European breech-loaders of roughly the same period, but coarsely fastened together with ropes and fixed with wedges. They were 126

69 cm

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Figure 6.1  Wrought-iron guns of the Deccan: a selection showing various types from different periods.


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BIJAPUR, City Wall MALIK-i-MAIDAN, Cast Bronze Dated 955 H/1549

240 cm

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Figure 6.2  Cast-bronze guns: two from Ahmadnagar, dated mid-fifteenth century, one of the two metal guns of Alamgir I, and the last Qutb Shahi bronze gun, c. 1680.

deccani guns

discharging stone balls. To handle them was probably not an easy job, and their efficiency is to be doubted. One long-range gun of Bijapur lying on a cavalier dated 992 H/1583 CE is of special interest (Fig. 6.1d).7 It is a 9.35-metre-long wrought-iron piece with a reinforced breech. It was fixed on its wooden carriage by a stepped socket and not by trunnions. This gun must have been made before trunnions became the normal component used to fit a gun on its carriage. It shows, as the breech-loaders described above, that in the Deccan during the sixteenth century the craftsmen who forged the guns were keen to experiment with different possibilities and find devices that would improve their weapons or make their handling easier. In the same trend we must include two types of small guns (Figs. 6.1f and 6.1g). 1f is an iron breech-loader. The chamber (x) holding the projectile and charge was removable, so that pre-loaded chambers could be kept ready, thus speeding up the firing rate. The iron used for it is of the highest quality. The origin of this type is probably Portuguese. The gun illustrated in Fig. 6.1g was provided with a wooden handle extending the breech, a socket (a) articulated with a fixed iron rest, and sights for

Figure 6.3  The Malik-i Maidan, the famous bronze bombard cast in 1549 at Ahmadnagar by an Ottoman engineer.


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Figure 6.4  The five Barid Shahi guns in Bidar.


deccani guns

aiming. With this weapon it was easy to aim at assaulting troops moving at a lower level, in the fortress’s ditch or on the berm. The first monster bombard is the famous Malik-i Maidan (Fig. 6.2a and 6.3), a casting in bronze, weighing about 50 tonnes, made in 956 H/1549 CE at Ahmadnagar by Muhammad, the son of Hasan Rumi, an engineer from the Ottoman Empire.8 In December 1564 the Malik-i Maidan slowly followed the army of the Sultan of Ahmadnagar heading against the Vijayanagara forces. It was dragged by hundreds of exhausted oxen and elephants over dusty black cotton soil and altered basaltic rocks. But it made a very big impression by its monumental beauty, and yet more by the deafening blast made when discharging dumpy bags of copper coins on the Vijayanagara soldiers during the battle of Talikota.9 This battle was the showcase for advertising the new heavy gun to the Deccani rulers and soldiers. After this crucial event, no political power in the Deccan could feel safe without the protective possession of some heavy artillery. No doubt the Malik-i Maidan was the inspiring archetype of all the heavy guns produced in the Deccan after 1565 and up until 1687 – especially of the five masterpieces at Bidar. These were not only essential items aimed at terrifying all sorts of enemies, men or spooks, but also, with the Malik-i Maidan, the most impressive objets d’art produced in the Deccan under Islamic rule.

Figure 6.5  The Top-i Ilahi near Mandu Darwaza, Bidar Fort, dated 1569.


The Visual World of Muslim India

The five Baridi guns of Bidar occupy precisely this stage in the development of Deccani artillery from a technical point of view (Fig. 6.4). They are made of wroughtiron bars of square section, some laid horizontally to make up the cylindrical bore of the gun, others forged into rings and slipped on over the previous ones. This was the usual technique employed for the manufacture of iron guns at that time in the Deccan;10 but the quality of the manufacturing process is outstanding. It is not easy to make out the joint between two rings: the outer surface is perfectly smooth, of a dark-brown colour (Fig. 6.5). For a Western observer, there is an enigmatic contrast between the quality of the iron used and perfection of the technical processes implemented on one part, and the poor military results of a huge stone ball hurled at rare intervals from a height towards an open ground. The two earliest guns, dated 1569 and 1572, are bombards mounted on the Kala Burj and near Mandu Darwaza (Fig. 6.5). They are also the biggest of the five. No doubt their model was the Malik-i Maidan. Inside, the chamber for the explosive is still smaller than the bore, and outside, the breech is flat, without any projection, and the body more or less cylindrical. An improvement must however be noted: the guns were not fixed to their wooden platform by one pair of small tenons, but by two pairs of big cylindrical projections resembling trunnions (real trunnions would only be two per gun and would be placed at the centre of gravity of the gun, allowing it to be easily oscillated and put in firing position). The next two guns, dated 1580 and 1587, named Fath Lashkar (Fig. 6.6) and Top-i Haidari, are also bombards; they are still stout pieces, but their breech is bulging. Their muzzle is slightly larger than the body, and they are provided with real trunnions – a notable improvement. The Top-i

Figure 6.6  The Fath Lashkar in the Purana Qila, Bidar Fort, dated 1580.


deccani guns

Figure 6.7  Wrought-iron gun on the Landa Qassab bastion, Bijapur, city wall, seventeenth century.

Mahmud Shahi, dated 1591, is a long cannon and its shape is adapted to its aim: that is, to fire balls as far as possible towards a precise target. It has trunnions and sights. With this gun Baridi technology more or less reaches its maturity. After the five Baridi showpieces, from the end of the sixteenth century until the fall of Golconda, the heavy guns manufactured in the Deccan were all made of wrought iron. They are provided with trunnions and sights. The breech is flat or bulging and the body is provided with numerous rings, in pairs. Most of them belong to Bijapur. The masterpiece of this group is the bombard on the Landa Qassab bastion at Bijapur, about 6.5 metres long and weighing 47 tonnes (Fig. 6.7). The other guns are very long, about 9 metres. One is still in position at Gulbarga, mounted on an almond-shaped cavalier built in 1625, and so well balanced that it is seesawing in the wind. All these guns are impressive, magnificent and awe-inspiring, but none of them displays any ornamentation. Few are inscribed and, when they are, the inscription looks like simple engraved 133

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handwriting; it informs us about the quantity of powder necessary for every shot, so as to prevent the tub from bursting. Poetry occurs only once, on the muzzle of a gun signed by Malik Sandal.11 But even this inscription in itself has no artistic merit at all, and unless you are informed of its existence and search for it, you will never notice it. Therefore we must conclude that all these guns were meant only for military purposes, to destroy enemies or at least to keep them at a safe distance. They had no artistic pretensions. During the same period, Bijapur developed one of the most sophisticated architectural styles in the Subcontinent: one could argue therefore that Ibrahim II and Muhammad Adil Shah did not focus on war for the promotion of their image, but on gardens and palaces. Guns were not included in their list of ceremonial objects. The last huge cannon was cast just before 1687 in Golconda for the defence of the city against Mughal forces. It was mounted on a cavalier in the Naya Qila (Fig. 6.2d). The metal used was bronze, not wrought iron, probably to create a magical link with the Malik-i Maidan, the gun that had been able to crush the enemy of the Deccani sultanates at Talikota. But the Golconda cannon was a technical failure: it looks like a gargantuan over-cooked macaroni. Against Alamgir I’s beautifully adorned bimetallic cannons, discharging iron balls at high speed (Fig. 6.2c), it was a hopeless weapon!

Ornamentation Most of the Deccani guns are plain. However, as we have noted, some pieces are decorated. Two styles can be observed: either the muzzle was fashioned in the shape of a monster’s head, or the body was embellished with some inlaid ornamentation.

Monster’s head The muzzle turns into a monster with open jaws and frightful fangs (Figs. 6.3, 6.8). This type of ornamentation is found in guns of bronze and wrought iron of any category or size. The most elaborate is of course the muzzle of the famous Malik-i Maidan. In this case the ears of the monster are pierced to fasten the rings necessary to operate the gun and a small frightened elephant is shown caught between the fangs of the open mouth on either side. Art and utility seem again mixed. If we look at other specimens, it seems that the significance to be given to monsters’ muzzles on guns is not a simple one.12 On guns of small and medium size in particular, the monster’s head is artistically shaped (Fig. 6.8). However on some heavy wrought-iron guns, for instance on the 134

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two lying in Kandhar Fort and made by order of Malik Ambar, the heads are so badly formed, in such a crude, raw style, that they could not possibly be intended as ornamentation. There must be some other explanation to justify their presence – a magical one in all likelihood. In the Deccan during the same period, villages, towns, as well as royal cities wanted to be magically protected against evil spirits, spells and diseases. The masonry gates of forts and towns were mostly provided with stone sculptures in relief fashioned in monster shape. In the mind of the people, these figures were able to prevent any evil spirit from crossing over. I believe that the guns were not only arms used for military activities, but also part of a magical defence; this could explain why the evolution of firearms in the Deccan was very different from that witnessed in Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The notions and practices of war and defence were embedded in two very different world views. In the Deccan the blast and the shape were more important than the shot.

Figure 6.8  Camel-muzzled iron gun, Daulatabad, undated.


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Figure 6.9  Inscription and floral ornamentation on the Fath Lashkar, Bidar Fort, dated 1580.

Inlaid ornamentation The five Baridi guns of Bidar are the only examples of this style. Their ornamentation was magnificent before the precious inlays were torn out: for many years the guns were left unguarded and the precious metal was stolen. The ornamentation consists of one row of four to eight panels on the upper surface of the guns (Fig. 6.6). Each panel comprises a frame enclosing an inscription and/or floral tracery (Figs. 6.9, 6.10, 6.11). The patterns were probably first drawn with ink, then incised with a chisel, hollowed out of the wrought iron and, finally, the empty cavities were filled with wires of precious metals and cold-hammered to obtain an even surface. Two unfinished panels on the Top-i Haidari show us the modus operandi (Fig. 6.11). When finished, the silver and, possibly, gold designs would have produced an impressive contrast against the dark-brown background of the iron. At least three features of this ornamentation present similarities with other artistic achievements produced during the Bahmani and Baridi periods. Firstly, the frames of the panels are variations on a simple or cusped geometric figure (circle, oval, triangle or rectangle) on which a fleur-de-lys motif is usually grafted (Figs. 6.9, 6.10). The stone, plaster or glazed tile decoration on the walls of palaces, mosques or tombs uses almost identical frames. In architecture at this time the cusped arch had not yet come in fashion; it would only appear later. But the two water ponds of the Takht Mahal in the Bidar Fort, flanking the domed main hall on an east–west axis, are similarly multi-lobed and probably date back to the mid-fifteenth century. 136

Figure 6.10  Inscription on the Top-i Ilahi. The silver inlay was removed long ago. Bidar Fort, dated 1569.

Figure 6.11  Unfinished ornament on the Top-i Haidari, Lal Burj, Bidar Fort, dated 1587.

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Secondly, on the guns, the Top-i-Haidari in particular, there are not only inscriptions but also purely decorative floral scrollwork. The motifs are not very varied; nevertheless, they are closely linked with the designs of the old carpets which Henry Cousens found in the Athar Mahal at Bijapur. Silk and cotton textiles, brocades for dresses, hangings, tents, carpets for living spaces were then most important requisites, so that the creation of patterns for the weavers was an essential art, easily and largely spread, and copied by other crafts.13 Finally, most of the panels bear an inscription. Reference to their contents has already been made, and I will, therefore, only consider their style here. The script is naskh, which is the common script used in the Deccan during this period. The letters and the background, at the end of the manufacturing process, would have been on the same level, as on a sheet of paper. However, on the guns, the contrast between background and writing was reversed: the silver letters were of a light colour and stood out against a dark background as is more usual in kāshī (tilework). The technique showing the closest relation to the guns is stone inlay, exemplified by the wall decoration of the innermost room of the Rangin Mahal at Bidar Fort, datable to the Baridi period (Fig. 6.12). The frame of the door and the pilasters filling the corners of this chamber are made of fine-grained black basalt, which is then inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Here we find the same polished surface, the same contrast between the dark background and the shining mother-of-pearl, the same use of calligraphy and a similar compositional principle, with scrolled floral patterns enclosed within frames. The manufacturing process was also very similar. From a very hard material the craftsmen had first to chisel out gaps to be filled with precious substances. We are inclined to believe that the same craftsmen of the royal factory created the ornamentation of the five guns and of the innermost chamber at the Rangin Mahal. Bidri works are also artefacts of the same brand, and the adjective ‘Bidri’ suggests a strong connection with the town. The decoration of the five guns under review and the mother-of-pearl inlay of the Rangin Mahal, all creations of the second half of the sixteenth century, would suggest that Bidri ware originated in the same Baridi artistic milieu.14 The patterns used for the decoration of these guns show no particular originality when compared with those of other artefacts produced at Bidar during the same period. They are perfectly of the same trend. As noted previously, textiles were probably at the source of all these patterns. The originality of the guns’ ornamentation lies only in the contrast between the bright design and the dark background.


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Figure 6.12  Black stone panel decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay, Rangin Mahal, reign of Ali Barid (1542–80), Bidar Fort.

A sweeping view of gun ornamentation and the visual arts Deccani artistic realizations at large, and Baridi art in particular, show two main and very different trends. The first one is represented mainly by glazed tilework, carpets, Bidri ware, the decoration of the five guns and the mother-of-pearl inlay inside the Rangin Mahal. The main characteristics are: a flat pattern with absence of relief, contrasting rich colours but of a restricted assortment, or black and white juxtaposed to a maximum effect, calligraphy and stylized floral or scroll design without any depictions of animate beings. This trend is the product of a nomadic culture, represented in the Deccan by people of Central Asian origin.15 The second trend is found in the decoration of wooden architectural components and plasterwork. The craftsmen using these materials were probably carpenters 139

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and plasterers whose cultural background was related to the traditional art of local wood- and stone-carving. The wooden pillars and ceilings of the Rangin Mahal at Bidar belong to this tradition. This approach gives an impression of profusion, movement, bewildering complexity from an aesthetical point of view. This swarming effect recalls the sculptures in high and low relief covering walls, piers and gopuras of Vijayanagara temples. The depiction of parrots and peacocks confirms the Indian origin of this trend. The bronze guns, such as the Malik-i Maidan and its smaller versions preserved on the towers of Udgir and Ausa forts, although cast under the supervision of an émigré from Anatolia, Ustad Muhammad, the son of Hasan Rumi, have to be included in this group. The monster’s muzzle and the elephants on the Malik-i Maidan, the moustached face on the breech of the gun at Ausa are figurative sculptures. Even the inscriptions on these guns are in high relief and not engraved as on the five guns at Bidar. Casting and forging themselves are very different techniques. Moulds are used in the fabrication process of cast guns. That is why they are generally ornate: to add some ornaments to a plaster or earthen mould is actually easy work. But this does not account for the style chosen, and many wrought-iron guns of different sizes are also, as previously mentioned, provided with a muzzle in the shape of the head of a roaring monster. A first assessment shows that the ornamentation of guns in the Deccan during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries can be related to either of the two major artistic trends prevalent during this period. It seems however that two sultanates wanted to show their artillery off to advantage and adopted for this purpose a specific decorative style. The Nizam Shahs of Ahmadnagar, who were the first to cast heavy guns, chose three-dimensional monsters’ heads, whereas the Barid Shahs of Bidar chose a style in full compliance with the prevalent Islamic style of Central Asia. As for the Adil Shahs of Bijapur, they preferred plain guns, impressive only in their size. The ornate guns in general and those of Bidar in particular seem to have been the outcome of two polities, Nizam Shahi and Barid Shahi: both were politically endangered, surrounded by threatening enemies whom they wanted to impress. The decoration was, so to speak, a psychological weapon, adding magic and beauty to the imposing size of the pieces. Envoys from other states coming to Bidar for a diplomatic or fact-finding mission were probably urged to admire the five guns disposed around the Baridi palaces inside the fort and on the main bastion of the city wall. Their decoration was probably part of a deterrent purpose.


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Conclusion In the Deccan, from the mid-sixteenth century up to the Mughal conquest in 1687, the use of heavy guns for the defence of centres of power was related to a specific notion regarding potential enemies and their weak points. Placed on the highest positions and firing huge stone balls, the heavy guns had essentially the function of frightening all dangerous beings or forces and keeping them at distance. As the inscriptions on the Fath Lashkar16 and the Mahmud Shahi17 tell us, the gun, like a beneficent and devout dragon, had to protect the faithful and to swallow its satanic foes. In that function the noise of the deflagration was more important than the actual damage brought about by the fired stone ball. In the mind of the people of that time and region, a dragon-shaped muzzle could have endowed the gun with magical powers. But a magnificent decoration also enhanced the impression that the gun left in the memory of visitors, especially envoys of a rival state, and helped to forge a myth of wealth and invincibility. Finally, it must be emphasized that these five guns are the most important masterpieces of Baridi decorative art. In my opinion, the technique used has survived till the present time in the famous inlaid metal ware known as Bidri ware.

Notes 1 From accounts written by Chinese Buddhist monks we know that two main routes were used from China to India: by sea or through Central Asia. Gunpowder was used by the Mongols in the thirteenth century. It could also have been introduced to the Deccan by Turks coming from Central Asia. One possibility does not rule out the other; in fact, both may have been the case. 2 The Portuguese navy artillery seized at Chaul in 1507 was closely looked at by the Adil Shahi craftsmen and was probably at the origin of a small breech-loader type largely used during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Deccani forts. Cf. Phillip B. Wagoner, ‘Firearms, Fortifications, and a “Military Revolution” in the 16th Century Deccan’ (paper presented at the seminar Islamic India in Transition: The Sixteenth Century, University of Pennsylvania, 17 March 2007). 3 See Emmanuel de Crouy-Chanel, Canons médiévaux, puissance du feu (Paris, 2010). This booklet is a very innovative study on European firearms at the end of the Middle Ages. 4 Granite supports for guns were used in the Shahpur and Yadgir forts (Karnataka). 5 Bronze casting was well practised in South India, especially in Tamilnadu, for statues of gods and kings. It was indeed a very expensive material and in some ways linked to the notions of sacredness and purity.


The Visual World of Muslim India 6 The inscriptions have not been yet published. However Ghulam Yazdani gives a rough translation in Bidar: Its History and Monuments (Hyderabad, 1947), 39, 86. 7 Cf. Henry Cousens, Bijapur and Its Architectural Remains: With an Historical Outline of the ‘Adil Shahi Dynasty, vol. 37 of Archaeological Survey of India, New Imperial Series (Bombay, 1916; repr. Delhi, 1976), 33. 8 A Hungarian renegade had allegedly taught the Ottomans the art of casting heavy guns just before 1453, to enable Mehmet II (r. 1444–46 and 1451–81) to conquer Constantinople. At that time, in countries of Western Europe like France, heavy guns had been discarded and replaced by batteries of small cannons, made of a special variety of bronze, mounted on wheels and shooting iron balls at a very high speed. What seemed out of fashion to the King of France in 1453 became the latest technical achievement for the ruler of Ahmadnagar in 1549. 9 H.K. Sherwani, ‘Tilangana under Ibrahim Qutb Shah: Diplomacy and Military Campaigns, Part I, 1550–1565,’ Journal of Indian History 35/3 (Dec 1957), 380–82. 10 Cast-iron guns, as mentioned, appear later, at the end of the eighteenth century, under European influence. However, one gun on the city wall of Bidar, near the Fath Darwaza, probably dating back to the fifteenth century, has a cast-iron body reinforced by wrought-iron rings (See Fig. 6.1a). 11 It is the earliest achievement of this gentleman who later became one of the best architectural contractors of Bijapur at the beginning of the seventeenth century. He supervised the construction of the Ibrahim Rawza. 12 See Gijs Kruijtzer’s contribution to this volume; also cf. id., Xenophobia in Seventeenth-Century India (Leiden, 2009). 13 Cf. Steven Cohen, ‘Deccani Carpets: Creating a Corpus,’ in Sultans of the South: Arts of India’s Deccan Courts, ed. Navina Najat Haidar and Marika Sardar (New York, 2011), 112–31. 14 An inscription on the Top-i Ilahi gun specifies that the gun was manufactured by the royal factory. For a detailed discussion of Bidri ware, see Laura E. Parodi’s contribution to this volume, where the suggested connection with gunfounders is accepted but a significantly later dating is proposed, along with non-royal associations. 15 Cf. Monika Gronke, Geschichte Irans: Von der Islamisierung bis zur Gegenwart (München, 2003), 39–64. 16 Cf. Ghulam Yazdani, Bidar: Its History and Monuments (London, 1947), 39. 17 Ibid., 86.


7 The Fighting on the Wa ll Animal Symbolism of the Deccan in a Eurasian Perspective1

—Gijs Kruijtzer— ‘One must never animalize, zoologize or physiologize one’s opponents – a golden rule.’ Bernard-Henri Lévy to Michel Houellebecq, 2008 2


hat follows is a discussion of the use of images of animals in the context of identity and group boundaries. While researching group behaviour in the early modern Deccan in general, it occurred to me that the depiction of animal combats in reliefs at Golconda, Bijapur and Raigarh must have been linked to the view the patrons of these artworks had of themselves in relation to their enemies (Figs. 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 7.6, 7.7, 7.8). At the same time, however, these reliefs seem to have drawn on various well-established traditions. Over the course of the years a number of scholars, especially Pauline Lunsingh Scheurleer and Klaus Rötzer, have brought to my attention comparable images of animals from North India, Central Asia and Europe of all periods. At the conference that brought forth this collection of articles, Klaus Rötzer drew a parallel between the animal symbolism on guns and forts in the Deccan and the robe made for Roger II in Sicily (Fig. 7.1), which gave rise to some discussion as to whether there was a connection between these far-flung artistic expressions at all. I have become convinced that these artworks are, in a sense, connected and that a long and Eurasia-wide genealogy of depictions of animal combats is the key to understanding them. But, besides the layers of meaning that had accrued over millennia, we should also not lose sight of 143

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Figure 7.1  Cloak of Roger II (r. 1130–54), with lions trampling camels and an Arabic text on the border giving the date 528 h / 1133–34 c e (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Inv. no. SK XIII 14).

the possibility that animal symbolism was always new and brimming with references to the social context of the particular time at which they were made.

The spiritual dimension: light versus darkness Among the animal combats encountered in Eurasian art, the motif of the lion-bull combat seems to have the longest history. In Mesopotamia and the surrounding areas, it seems to have enjoyed an uninterrupted popularity starting millennia BCE, probably due to the preoccupation with astronomy of the ancients. Willy Hartner and Richard Ettinghausen have noted that around one thousand BCE, the zenith of the sign Leo and the setting of the sign Taurus coincided with 21 March. This date marked the beginning of spring and the new year and was a very important occasion, especially to the Zoroastrians and their precursors. Therefore the vanquishing of the bull by the lion came to represent the victory of celestial light over chthonic darkness. In the light of these findings it is not surprising that we see the motif represented so prominently at Persepolis, built by the Zoroastrian Achaemenid dynasty (559–330 BCE).3 From the Iranian heartland the motif seems to have travelled both west and east, being spread by armies and nomadic conquerors and undergoing some transformations en route. In later Zoroastrianism the theme was also represented as the slaying of the bull by the god Mithra in the shape of a human, which basically had the same 144

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significance. Roman soldiers spread the Mithraic iconography as far west as the Netherlands and the British Isles.4 In South Asia we find two more related motifs rising to prominence during the Gupta era (c. 320–540 CE) that followed a period during which parts of North India had been under the rule of two groups of Central Asian nomadic conquerors, bearers of Greek and Iranian culture, the Sakas and the Kushans. The two motifs were that of the lion vanquishing an elephant and that of Durga riding a tiger or lion while slaying the demon Mahisha in the shape of a buffalo bull. The Durga-Mahisha combat sometimes takes the shape of a dual combat, that of Durga slaying the demon and Durga’s mount – the lion or tiger – vanquishing the bull.5 The lion-elephant combat motif seems to first occur in the poetry of Kalidasa, who was active during the high or late Gupta era.6 In stone, the motif of the lion trampling an elephant first seems to occur only slightly later, perhaps between the fifth and sixth centuries, around Nalanda in Bihar and also in the Ajanta caves in the Deccan. For this motif, too, the victory of celestial light over chtonic darkness was a primary meaning, or at least so Pramod Chandra has suggested.7 This metaphorical use of the victorious lion for the victory of light over darkness and good over evil was carried into the early modern period by both the Indic and Islamicate traditions. The image of the Durga-Mahisha-cum-lion-bull battle enjoyed a continuous popularity in many parts of the Subcontinent, including the Deccan.8 The lion and elephant motif also occurs throughout the Deccan in the early modern period. The lion-bull metaphor was carried over in the Islamicate world as a whole, especially through Shiism and the veneration of Ali more generally. Ali’s epithet is ḥaydar, which means lion, and he is very often invoked as the sher-i yazdān, the lion (or tiger) of God; this is the case also in texts written at the Shiite courts of the Deccan.9 The connection between the lion-bull iconography and the power of Ali to overcome evil comes out most clearly in an eighteenth-century calligraphic tableau now in the Ethnografya Müzesi in Ankara. It shows a Persian verse taking the shape of a lion vanquishing a snake with a bull’s head. The verse reads: To kill the bad lower soul in the body is not the work of the worldly sovereign, to tear the snake into pieces in the cradle is the work of Haydar.10 The connection between Shiite spirituality and victorious felines is also demonstrable for the Deccan,11 where there seems to have been a particular preference for the tiger (rather than lion) as a symbol for Ali. Although lions and tigers were not always clearly distinguished and the Persian word sher could apply to both (even while the word babr was available to specifically designate tigers), Ali, and light, became more closely 145

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associated with the tiger than with the lion in the Deccan. Hyderabad’s ‘āshūrkhānas for the celebration of the tenth of Muharram, the end of the annual mourning period for the deaths of Ali’s kin, are today still painted with tigers. In the late eighteenth century, Tipu Sultan took Ali as a sort of guardian genius (though he was perhaps not technically a Shiite) and famously identified himself and his army closely with the tiger, as is reflected in a large amount of still extant objects and images.12

The political dimension: the powers that be While historians and art historians widely recognize Tipu Sultan’s identification with the tiger, modern scholars are on the whole reticent in giving political interpretations to the animal symbolism of South India. It seems that the tone was set in 1919 by O.C. Gangoly, who aimed to demonstrate that the theme of the lion trampling an elephant as it was represented in Orissa in the eleventh century could not have had a political meaning (symbolizing the victory over the Gajapati – ‘lord of elephants’ – dynasty), for the very reason that the symbolism of the lion vanquishing the elephant was already well-established by that time. For a part of the Islamic world – the area encompassed by eastern Anatolia and western Mesopotamia – however, Max van Berchem, Willy Hartner, Richard Ettinghausen and Joachim Gierlichs have recognized that, besides the established spiritual, astral and apotropaic meanings, animal reliefs may also have had a political meaning in representing the replacement of one Muslim dynasty by another.13 Animal symbolism may often even have been deliberately ambivalent as Gierlichs suggests,14 with the spiritual significance reinforcing its political message. This is clear in a number of architectural expressions in which the combination of symbolic light with lions/tigers is inextricably bound up with worldly power through its place near the sovereign. The architectural elements I want to draw attention to here display the symbol of the sun rising behind a lion (or tiger), which originated later than the lion vanquishing the bull symbol (as late as the twelfth century CE) but had a related significance (even when the prey was absent) and was spread through similar routes throughout West, Central and South Asia.15 An important moment in the history of this symbol was its prominent inclusion in the palace of the great conqueror Timur (r. 1370–1405) at Kesh. The gate on which it was to be seen is now lost, but the early-seventeenth-century gate of the Sherdar Madrasa on the Registan Square in Samarkand may be an imitation or interpretation of this gate. That gate has a pair of Aral tigers with serenely smiling sun-faces rising behind them. Both 146

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are also chasing small spotted hinds, which we do not hear of in the contemporary report on the gate at Timur’s palace, but which that gate may also have had. It is significant that this symbol was deemed appropriate for both a place of worldly power and a building devoted to the study of religious texts.16 In the Deccan the symbol seems to first appear in architecture at Bidar where it was expressed through a similar pair of tigers-with-sun in tilework over a large gate in a central part of the palace constructed by the Bahmani sultan Ahmad Shah I, who reigned no more than a few decades after Timur. Because the tilework is very damaged it is not possible to tell whether there was also prey present in front of or below those two tigers.17 Another expression of this symbolism, somewhat further removed from the centre of royal power, is seen on a merlon of the mid-seventeenth-century Nau Burj at Golconda Fort, a treasure-trove of animal symbolism in stucco (though somewhat damaged). On this particular merlon a yāḷi (mythical semi-lion) is subduing what seems to be a sort of bird while the sun is rising over the yāḷi’s back with big sharp teeth and wide eyes. The account of the Castilian ambassador Ruy González de Clavijo that is our source for the one-time existence of the lions-with-suns over the gate in Timur’s palace gives us a good impression of how this symbolism was regarded in the early modern period: On the top of this doorway there was the figure of a lion and a sun, which are the arms of the lord of Samarcand; and, though they say that Timour Beg ordered these palaces to be built, I believe that the former lord of Samarcand gave the order; because the sun and lion, which are here represented, are the arms of the lords of Samarcand; and those which Timour Beg bears, are three circles like O’s… and this is to signify that he is lord of the three parts of the world.18 Thus there was no doubt in the mind of Clavijo that this animal symbolism was to be associated with a particular worldly power wielder; it was only a matter of debate which worldly lord it referred to. This passage clearly shows that on top of the layers of general meaning of such symbolism there was also a very specific interpretation open to those who wished to see it. One of the tools available to the artists in the process of creation and the audience in the process of interpretation of animal combat scenes was that other tradition of the Middle East and India going back to BCE, the narration of animal fables. The French philologist Garcin de Tassy remarked in the introduction to his history of Hindavi and Hindustani literature that ‘oriental’ fables, including animal fables, were always 147

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thoroughly political, an indirect way of expressing political truths and aspirations.19 Such stories were certainly well known in the Deccan at the time. Ghawwasi, the poet laureate of Abdullah Qutb Shah of Golconda, for instance, composed a Deccani Urdu rendition of the Ṭūṭīnāma (Tales of a Parrot) which contains several stories of different animals killing each other.20 This link between the symbolism on the walls of the Deccan and the various versions of the Tales of a Parrot is made explicit by a remarkable relief on the walls of Golconda, which features a lion vanquishing an elephant watched at a slight distance by a parrot in a tree munching on a snake (Fig. 7.6). It seems as though the parrot is present as a witness and reporter of the event, which is also the parrot’s overarching role in the Tales. On occasion we find explicit likenings of individuals to animals in court chronicles and eulogies. In the Muḥammadnāma, for instance, written at the court of Bijapur around the same time that Ghawwasi wrote his Ṭūṭīnāma at the Golconda court, the description of the murder of the minister Khawas Khan is cast in an animal metaphor. Khawas Khan was considered a usurper and a court attendant named Karim was selected for his killing. Karim carried out the job ‘like a lion rushes upon a deer’ and for that reason came to be known as ‘Sharza,’ that is to say, one who is fierce or roars like a lion.21 Some very striking metaphors are found in the Sūryavaṃśa Anupurāṇa, written by Paramananda, the court poet of the Maratha King Shivaji who rose to prominence in the Islamicate environment of the Deccan sultanates. Paramananda in fact constantly likened warriors of all parties to lions and rutting elephants and their war-cries to the roars of lions and the bellowing of elephants, but mostly Shivaji himself, his father Shahji and their adherents are described as lions, while their opponents are portrayed as elephants (see for example verses 4.63, 9.74, 13.46, 13.50, 13.74, 13.121–22, 14.2–3, 21.37–39, 30.1–4). Most clearly we see this in the verses describing the confrontation with one of Shivaji’s arch-enemies, the commander Afzal Khan who was sent to subdue him from the Bijapur court: ‘By entering the terrible forest of Javli / the home of me, the lion / my enemy Afzal, the elephant / will come unto his death’ (18.39). In verses 21.22–23 and 37–39 describing the same confrontation, not only is Shivaji again likened to a lion but here his beard is also compared to an elephant goad (with which he could tame Afzal). Beside Afzal and other Muslim commanders, the ‘elephants’ of the text include Maratha chiefs such as the aforementioned Suryaji Rao who ‘turned his mind to the contest / [he faced] with wild Shivaji, as [if he were] an elephant / [about to fight] a lion’ (30.37).22


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Choosing the appropriate animal The premise of our analysis is that people recognize different qualities in different animals and that this recognition or attribution is the foundation of animal symbolism in all cultures. The following section will delve into the question of whether the animals used as symbols were randomly chosen or meant to reflect on some shared quality, or in other words, the identity of the victorious on the one hand and the vanquished on the other. First of all, animals are distinguished by the habitat in which they are at home. Certain animals are suited to the arid zones of Eurasia (the camel for instance), others are suited to the river-irrigated fields (the water buffalo for instance),23 while still others are agile in water only. The Mughal emperor Alamgir I (himself once dubbed ‘a cunning old fox’ by a Dutch merchant)24 wrote to his rebellious son Akbar to persuade him to give up and to return home from the Deccan: The man who goes far from his asylum and home Becomes helpless, needy and forsaken In the water the lion becomes the prey of fishes On dry land the crocodile becomes the food of ants25 Each animal has its strengths and weaknesses; animal fables are full of stories of seemingly powerless animals exploiting the weaknesses of the big and strong – trapping an elephant in quicksand and the like. An animal metaphor had to be appropriate to the terrain where one dwelt. In addressing governors and commanders of the Dutch East India Company, officials of the Deccan states therefore not only used the title ‘Lion of the Sea,’ but on occasion also that of ‘Crocodile of the Sea.’26 Another instance of the use of such very specific animal symbolism is found in a well-known Mughal allegorical painting by Emperor Jahangir’s favoured painter Abu’l Hasan. In it we see the head of the African minister of the sultanate of Ahmadnagar and great opponent of Jahangir in the Deccan, Malik Ambar, impaled, shot by the emperor and linked with the image of two owls, one on his head and one falling down dead. The accompanying line reads: ‘The head of the night-coloured usurper has become the house of the owl’ and another line on the painting refers to him as an owl which fled the light.27 So while Jahangir (whose title was Nuruddin, ‘The Light of Religion’) is light, Ambar is dark of skin and of mind, and at home only in the night like the owl. The rest of this picture and the texts inscribed on it are also full of animal imagery, including the peaceful 149

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cohabitation of predatory and meek animals below Jahangir’s feet – a theme to which we shall return below. Two oppositions seem to be particularly prominent in the animal symbolism of the Deccan and Eurasia as a whole. First that between predators and nonpredators, or the dad and the dam as they were called in Persian classics like the Shāhnāma,28 and second that between domesticated animals and wild animals, or paśus and mṛgas as they were called in the Sanskrit texts of ancient India.29 A basic classification of the animals most commonly found in depictions of animal fights, would be this: Predators



Lion Tiger Leopard Eagle Hawk Owl Crocodile Snake

Boar Cervids (deer family) Monkey Crane Small birds



Cow/bull/ox Buffalo Yak Goat Camel Elephant

I have left mythical and fantastic animals out of this schema, but they are mostly made up of parts of animals traceable to the former categories. Man is included because he is not only depicted as hunting animals but also fighting them in man-animal combats. Moreover, in ancient Indian Sanskrit texts man was sometimes included among the paśus, the domestic or sacrificial animals, as opposed to the mṛgas or wild animals.30 Some animals could arguably be included in both these categories: the bull and the elephant for instance. On occasion the tameness of the latter two animals was, however, emphasized by attributes such as a ring through the nose or a goad (see Fig. 6.3). 150

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The sultans of the Deccan seem to have exclusively identified themselves with predatory felines, as did the Mughal emperors. In his memoirs, the Kayastha and former Mughal officer Bhimsen commented on the chastisement of Sultan Abu’l Hasan of Golconda by the Mughal prince Shah Alam in 1685 with the following verse: ‘The tiger that received a slap from the hand of the lion, never tries to stand before it again.’31 Bhimsen apparently deemed a tiger an appropriate allegory for the Shiite Sultan of Golconda and the lion appropriate for the son of the Mughal emperor; two animals of nearly equal strength of which one gives up but is not vanquished. While the Muslim rulers of the Deccan seem to have identified themselves exclusively with predatory felines, non-Muslim rulers chose their emblems from a wider range of animals, including predatory felines, but also other wild animals as well as man. The emblem of the Hoysala dynasty, for instance, was a standing man stabbing a standing tiger. We may interpret this as a form of counter-symbolism, employed either against the preceding Chola dynasty (which had a tiger as its emblem), or against the Muslim sultans approaching from the north, or both. The Hoysala symbolism was taken over by the Vijayanagara Empire, where it appeared in numerous temples, including some spectacular free-standing columns in the sixteenth-century Sheshagirirayar Mandapa of Ranganatha Temple in Shrirangam.32 Some Hindu dynasties also identified themselves with the boar, a wild yet nonpredatory animal that is regarded as an avatar of Vishnu. Ancient India scholar Heinrich von Stietencron argues that the image of the boar was employed in North India as a symbol of ‘the deliverance from foreign oppression and the fresh foundation for ancient religion and sacred custom (dharma)’ as early as the Gupta period.33 The main emblem of the kings of Vijayanagara was a boar and sword accompanied by the sun and moon (the sun and the moon likely signifying eternity, as in the phrase ‘as long as the sun and moon will shine’).34 Shivaji also associated himself with the boar on occasion. Nowhere did the Anupurāṇa identify Shivaji as a boar, but since Shivaji was identified in the epic as an incarnation of Vishnu, he was naturally closely associated with the primeval boar Varaha, Vishnu’s third avatar. In the text, Paramananda presented Shivaji’s descent on earth as an incarnation of Vishnu to rid the earth of mlecchas or impure barbarians, in this case evidently Muslims and more specifically the Sultan of Bijapur and the Mughal emperor.35 In two near-contemporary paintings Shivaji is depicted wearing a patta or gauntlet sword (of a type that he seems to have been wearing often)36 with the gauntlet or wrist cover in the shape of a boar’s head.37 With his use of the boar as a symbol, Shivaji put himself explicitly in a particular Hindu tradition. Yet, as was seen above, Shivaji also identified with the lion, and, as was also already noted, the Chola dynasty (c. 850–1267), which was more inclined to the god Shiva than to Vishnu, had the tiger for a symbol.38 151

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The cultural dimension: nomads and sedentary folk The early modern Deccan was one area where depictions of animal combat were particularly prominent through their presence in public life on weaponry (which was worn on the person in public) and in architecture. If one looks, for instance, at the Furusiyya collection of Islamicate weaponry, almost all the weapons depicting fighting animals originate from the Deccan, and like Shivaji, Ali Adil Shah I of Bijapur is depicted in paintings prominently wearing a weapon with a scene of animal combat, namely a lion trampling an elephant.39 In a bird’s-eye view of Eurasian art history, two other areas and periods may be identified where scenes of animal combat had such public prominence. Firstly, the northern Mediterranean borderlands from the eleventh to the fifteenth century, where animal combat was also found in architecture and, of course, the robe of Roger II mentioned at the outset of this article. Secondly and further back in time, the steppes of Central Asia and Eastern Europe from the second century BCE till the sixth century CE, where animal combat could be seen in metal plaques worn on the person. In his 1929 book on the development of the ‘Animal Style’ in Central Eurasia in the period from around 700 BCE to 600 CE, Michael Rostovtzeff distinguishes between the first wave of this style, which was carried by the Scythians, and the second wave, which was carried especially by the Sarmatians and later also the Avars and others. While the various phases of the first wave saw a profusion of animal motifs, with a penchant for cervids, the motif of fighting animals only came to prominence with the rise of the Sarmatians around the late second century BCE. Rostovtzeff calls this the New Animal Style and notes: The bearers of the animal style were hunters and nomads, not peasants and agriculturists. They liked the wild animal, the beast, and not the tame domesticated animals of agricultural life. And they were at the same time in touch with the civilized life of the Near East, especially that of the Persian Empire.40 Rostovtzeff, however, doubts that the Sarmatians, with whose name the New Animal Style is associated, could have created that style, because they had been vassals of the Achaemenian Empire. He suggests instead that it must have been created by a people ‘who had not lost direct contact with nature’ such as the Yuezhi, a branch of whom later came to India as the Kushans. Leaving aside the still disputed issue of precisely which Central Asian people first created the New Animal Style, I would like to take up Rostovtzeff ’s suggestion that it was created in the context of an interaction between 152

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nomads and settled society, and to take it a step further by arguing that certain manifestations of the animal-combat theme tell us something about life on the frontier between settled society and nomadic society.41 As was already seen in the specific case of the lion-and-bull antithesis, animalcombat symbolism was taken up by Islamicate artists some time after 622 CE, while acquiring a new layer of meaning. The Arabs carried the lion-and-bull combat symbolism as far as Cordoba, where it appeared in the form a lion standing on the back of a slender bull on a carved ivory box panel now in the David Collection, Copenhagen.42 Yet it flourished in particular in two frontier regions of the Islamicate world: the Deccan and the northern borderlands of the Mediterranean from Italy to the Tigris. What these regions had in common was a contest over the resources of the sedentary population between Muslim-ruled post-nomadic states and states ruled by non-Muslim elites who were often also of a semi-nomadic background.43 Along these frontiers, all parties shared in the vocabulary of the animal combat. An example was the use of animal-combat symbolism at the court of the Norman Roger II at Palermo in Sicily. Roger straddled the frontier between the Islamic and the Christian worlds, now being the object of a crusade directed against him, now partaking in a crusade against Byzantium or wresting parts of northern Africa from the Arabs. Much of the artwork produced at his court was Islamicate, that is to say it had attributes generally associated with the Islamic world but was not necessarily produced by Muslim artists. Very extensive use of animal symbolism was made in the Islamicate painting in the chapel of his palace at Palermo, which features lions confronting lions, lions locked in combat with snakes (in one case the snake seems to be on the winning hand, pecking the head of the lion who is floored flat out), a lion assaulting the horse of a Christian knight who is confronting a Muslim warrior who is in turn being attacked by another man, deer and birds narrowly escaping the jaws of a bear and a lion, two antithetical lions controlled by the hands of a man, eagles grabbing cervids, lambs and other birds, an eagle composed of or embodying human figures vanquishing two deer, a European man wrestling an African man, birds vanquishing birds, a snake wrapped around and biting a bird.44 The remarkable thing is that none of the lions here seems to be victorious; might that be a reversal of the symbolism used by Muslim rulers? We will discuss similar cases from other regions below. Yet, the lions in the Islamicate mantle produced for Roger in 1133–34 CE are victorious and must through their proximity to the body of the king be identified with him. But the ancient theme of the victorious lion is here presented with a twist: the vanquished animal is not a bull or a cervid but a camel, which the observer was perhaps to associate with vanquished desert nomads. 153

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Still closer parallels to the animal symbolism of the Deccan are found in the far northeastern corner of the Mediterranean region, or more precisely eastern Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia in the Seljuq and Artuqid period (eleventh to fourteenth century). In both the Deccan and this northeastern Mediterranean region we find a profusion of the symbolism of animal combat on walls and gates. A well-studied example of the imagery produced on the frontier between the Turkish states in the northeastern Mediterranean region and their Christian neighbours (Byzantium, Armenia, Georgia) is the enamelled Innsbruck dish made for the Artuqid ruler Ruknuddawla Da’ud bin Sökmen in the early twelfth century, either at his own court or as a gift from the other side of the frontier. The inside of the dish features six medallions interspersed with palm trees flanked by lions, dancing women and acrobats, around a central medallion of which the theme has been identified as the apotheosis of Alexander the Great. The outside similarly has six medallions set in a circle. If we read only the two circles of six medallions we get something like this: (inside clockwise) a peacock standing on two rings, a feline vanquishing a cervid, an eagle with wings spread out holding a snake in its claws, a griffin vanquishing a lion, a peacock standing on two rings, a griffin vanquishing a bull; (outside clockwise) an eagle with wings spread out grabbing a cervid, two men embracing or wrestling (?), a griffin vanquishing a bull, an eagle vanquishing a cervid, a man playing lute to another man who is offering him a cup, an eagle vanquishing a canine. I would suggest such series were meant to represent the different encounters the ruler had in his career as a ruler, both peaceful and violent. We shall return to such series as well as to the complementarity of animal combat and paradisiacal peace. In any case it seems likely that the victorious birds and griffins were to be identified with the Artuqid ruler, whose titles in the inscription around the edge of the dish included the Turkish Sunqur-Beg, composed of sunqur meaning gyrfalcon or immortal soul-bird and the generic title beg, as well as the Arabic Qātil al-Kafāra wa’l-Mushrikīn, meaning ‘Killer of the Unbelievers and Idol-Worshippers.’45 Similar imagery was used on the other side of the frontier, for instance on a silver bowl celebrating the Christian saint Theodore, which has birds and griffins vanquishing snakes as well as boars trampling humans. The Russian scholar Darkevich has suggested parallels between this kind of imagery and that in the contemporary Byzantine epic about an Anatolian march warrior fighting the Muslims. The art historian Scott Redford rejects Darkevich’s interpretation because this imagery was shared on both sides of the frontier, but, as I argue throughout this paper, the fact that certain symbolism was shared or ancient does not mean it could not also have a political meaning.46 154

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Wall reliefs on both sides of this frontier also rivalled each other. The lion vanquishing a bull on the congregational mosque of Diyarbakr and a bird of prey overcoming a domesticated bull with a ringed nose on its city wall have earlier been interpreted as metaphors for the replacement of one Muslim dynasty by another, but in the inscriptions that both these images accompany, religion plays a considerable role. In the inscription on the congregational mosque, or Ulu Cami, the patron ruler of the Nisanid dynasty is called ‘The Ornament of Religion and the Honour of Islam,’ as well as ‘Chosen by the Leader of the Faithful [the caliph]’ and the Artuqid patron of the inscription on the Aleppo Gate is referred to by similar titles and even more explicitly as ‘Subduer of Unbelief and Polytheists [Qāmi‘ al-Kufrat wa’l-Mushrikīn].’ Could both these emblems possibly signify the victory of Muslim Turkish nomads over a sedentary Christian population? A clear indication that this might be the case is the use of bull heads on the walls of the Armenian capital Ani. Those bull heads (one with a nose-ring) are not being vanquished but seem to ward off the dragons that assail them from both sides, and are thus being presented as auspicious, with a reverse symbolism from that encountered at Diyarbakr. A very explicit inversion, which we may term counter-symbolism, of the theme of a lion overcoming a bull is similarly found on the tomb of an Armenian prince at Gelard, where a bull controls two lions through a chain that it holds in its mouth.47 Although less obviously so than the Turkish states in the northeastern Mediterranean, the Deccan sultanates were also post-nomadic states, where the elite clung to certain nomadic traditions, such as the battle on horseback, and the rulers often claimed to be of Turkish origin. The Adil Shahi dynasty claimed descent from the Ottoman royal line and the Qutb Shahi dynasty was allegedly descended from the Qara Qoyunlu Turkmen.48 In this context, it seems that the ancient symbolism of the lion vanquishing the elephant could also assume a significance with relation to the religious frontier where and when that frontier coincided with the frontier between its post-nomadic rulers and its sedentary population. An important example – which at the same time embodies the links between the northeastern Mediterranean and the Deccan – is the gun cast for the Sultan of Ahmadnagar in 1549 by an artisan identified in the inscription on the gun as a rūmī; that is, presumably an Ottoman. Its muzzle is in the shape of a lion’s head devouring an elephant along with its goad – a detail which identifies it as a tame elephant (Fig. 6.3). The gun was transferred to Bijapur after Ahmadnagar was defeated and its territories split between the Adil Shahs and the Mughals in the 1630s.49 In 1637 the Dutch ambassador Johan van Twist saw the gun in Bijapur and was told that its maker was a Roman (obviously too literal a translation of the word rūmī) and that 155

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this Roman not only sacrificed his own son to the gun in the course of the casting process but also refused to be paid for its making, and in lieu of payment threw the king’s Brahmin accountant, who had come to enquire about the payment, into a fire prepared in the casting pit, adding somewhat enigmatically ‘that the fire that had digested the money and copper would give him the bill.’50 This story seems to revolve around the stereotypes of the nomadic Turk and the sedentary book-keeper/ Brahmin,51 as well as around the violence of the confrontation between lion and tame elephant depicted on the gun.

Inversion: peace in the realm In early modern India, the relation between predators and herbivores was seen to move between the two extremes of violence and peace. Besides animal combat, a celebrated theme was that of animals living in harmony under the ruler of the age, whose very presence pacified his realm, like that of Solomon – an exemplary king in the Islamicate tradition. This theme, which has been masterfully illustrated by Ebba Koch, was perhaps developed furthest at the Mughal court in the first half of the seventeenth century, but it was also depicted and narrated in the Deccan sultanates. The theme has roots in both the Indic and Islamicate traditions and was presented in various ways,52 sometimes highlighting the tension between the peacefulness of the king’s realm and the violence of the frontier and often combined with a religious note. Examples of the use of the Solomonic theme in the Deccan are found in two paintings in the dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah of Golconda (r. 1580–1612) discussed in Laura Weinstein’s contribution to this volume (Figs. 8.3, 8.4), and a painting of Solomon with Queen Bilqis enthroned in a Fālnāma (book of omens) in the Khalili Collection (probably also made in Golconda in the early seventeenth century),53 and the testimony of the already mentioned Dutch ambassador Johan van Twist. In 1637 van Twist arrived in the Deccan to persuade the Sultan of Bijapur to launch a joint offensive against the Portuguese in Goa. However, one of the first officials to whom he spoke, well before he arrived at the court, told him that his mission would be quite pointless, because: ‘The King of Bijapur’s land is an enclosed wilderness, in which lions, boars and tigers must live together in peace.’54 That is to say, the Dutch, the Portuguese and any others established in Bijapur had to abide by a sort of Pax Bijapurica. In some sixteenth- and seventeenth-century artistic expressions the tension between paradisiacal or spiritual harmony and violent conflict was made explicit. Some of the 156

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mid-sixteenth-century animal-combat reliefs on the walls of Golconda are accompanied by the haṃsa goose which in the Indic tradition symbolizes spiritual harmony. At the Patancheru Gate of Golconda Fort are a number of machicolations supported by three corbels, the outer two corbels in the shape of lions trampling elephants and the one in the middle in the shape of a haṃsa. A gilded copper dish, now in the Jagdish and Kamla Mittal collection, combines a haṃsa bird in the central medallion with scenes of felines, birds of prey and a dog overcoming other wild but non-predatory animals, while a number of other animals including domesticated ungulates (kine, horse, camel) lie or run about without being attacked.55 The inscription around the central medallion combines three elements, a mystical equation of God and Ali ‘There is no God but Ali-God,’ praise for Muhammad, ‘Muhammad is close to God and the prophet of God,’ and a quotation from the Qur’an, ‘help from God and a speedy victory.’56 Jagdish Mittal suggests on stylistic grounds that the dish was made at the court of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah. The combination of the haṃsa, the violent and peaceful scenes and the Shi‘i call for victory would indeed mesh well with what we know of the ambiguities of Muhammad-Quli, some of whose often mystical poems speak about his celebration of certain Hindu festivals while others speak of his desire to vanquish the ‘Hindu hordes’ with ‘Haidar’s daggers’ in hand. The central position of the name ‘Muhammad’ in the inscription and the ambiguous praise for him as not only a prophet but also as a wālī or Sufi saint also mesh with Muhammad-Quli’s idea of himself and his identification with the Prophet of Islam.57 Another example is a straight dagger with its scabbard, now in the Furusiyya collection, ascribable on stylistic grounds to the Mughal Deccan.58 The enamel decoration on one side of both dagger and scabbard shows paradisiacal scenery made up of flowers and birds of paradise. The other side of the dagger and the scabbard have different kinds of felines (winged, striped, spotted, plain) vanquishing cervids and a bird, along with birds of prey vanquishing a bird and a monkey. In the centre of the paradisiacal scenery is a medallion with two birds, the one twittering to the other, which is perhaps a reference to the Persian Sufi classic Manṭiq al-Ṭayr (The Conference of the Birds). Between the violent scenes runs a river with toothy fish. Above the animal combats, along the riverbank, is a building – probably a Sufi dargāh, judging from its Islamicate dome and the presence of a banner beside it, as well as the tiny structures under the dome, which seem to be graves. Their presence amid the animal combats is perhaps a reference to martyrdom and the code of the ghāzī, or warrior on the frontier of Islam. The Deccan had a tradition of ghāzī Sufis and the Mughal invasion was also supported by a number of such Sufis, especially the Central Asian Baba Sa‘id who came to the Deccan sometime before 1674 and was entitled 157

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Palangposh, i.e. Wearer of the Leopard Skin.59 In the words of his hagiography, ‘Hazrat Baba Palangposh always went forward in front of the army of Islam and would loose arrows upon the army of the unbelievers.’60 After his death in 1699 he was buried at the Sufi establishment that his disciple had built by the side of a river at Aurangabad. Even if there is no direct connection to the shrine of Baba Palangposh, we must probably seek the provenance of this dagger and scabbard in an environment inspired by the codes of both the frontier warrior and the Sufi, balancing worldly violence and spiritual harmony. All of the seventeenth-century Mughal emperors seem to have been keen on the projection of themselves as Solomonic rulers. Alamgir I even had a lion and a lamb that had grown up together paraded daily as living proof of his just rule. Before him, Jahangir and Shahjahan had the theme of animals living in harmony depicted in numerous paintings of themselves and in the architecture around at least one of their thrones. What survives today are the peaceful birds among flowers (somewhat comparable to the décor of the ‘peaceful’ side in the aforementioned dagger) and the felines in separate frames in the pietra dura work behind the throne balcony in the hall of public audience in the Red Fort in Delhi commissioned by Shahjahan. In some five paintings from Shahjahan’s reign the theme of the harmonious lion and lamb or cow also appears right below the throne, either as one or more marble reliefs or a painting hung from the throne balcony, or in the weave of a carpet. Because of this frequent recurrence it does seem likely that such expressions were found below one or more of the Mughal thrones, but it also possible that the painters of the miniatures added these details as allegories.61 In these Mughal depictions of the seventeenth century there appear to be two slightly contrasting versions of the paradisiacal vision. One is the truly paradisiacal situation in which lion and lamb or kine live together in perfect harmony. In this vision the lion becomes a lamb, as it were, under the peacefulness exuded by the king. In the other vision the violence is only contained and the lamb is closely watched by the lion. This is a somewhat more cynical view in which the lion lets the lamb be in the ‘enclosed wilderness’ that is the kingdom. The difference is apparent in two depictions of Shahjahan by the painter Hashim, of which one was done in 1629 and the other in the later part of Shahjahan’s reign (1628–57). The young Shahjahan stands over a dozing lion-and-lamb ensemble (with mullahs proclaiming the justice of his rule on banners) and the older Shahjahan stands over two lions closely watching a blackbuck.62 Among the miniatures in this genre, we also find two in which the strong/wild and domesticated/weak animals are linked to persons in the painting. The first is an allegory 158

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Figure 7.2  Jujhar Singh Bundela Surrendering to Shahjahan (with a lamb licking a lion ready to jump). By Bichitr, c. 1630. From the Minto Album (Dublin, The Chester Beatty Library, In. 7A.16).

of the relationship between Jahangir and the Safavid ruler Shah Abbas I (r. 1587–1629) by the painter Abu’l Hasan. Jahangir and Shah Abbas are standing beside each other on a globe, but Jahangir is slightly larger and more robust and holds Shah Abbas in a protective embrace. Jahangir is standing on a lion, while the protected Shah Abbas is standing on a lamb. The lion is dozing like the lamb but casts a watchful glance at the lamb below his half-closed eyelids.63 In a comparable scene, by Bichitr, the lion is ready to jump and strike while the lamb is licking the lion’s nose, as if to appease it and stave off the attack (Fig. 7.2). The position of the respective animals mirrors that 159

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of the two central figures, a large Shahjahan and a much smaller Rajput chief submitting himself, probably Jujhar Singh Bundela. Meanwhile ‘approving groups of mullahs float upon clouds,’ in Linda York Leach’s words.64 In this latter view of the peaceful realm as one of contained violence, the lion and the lamb seem to have been metaphors for the mobile military class on the one hand and the protected, domesticated ri‘āya or flock on the other. While Shah Abbas (who made extensive use of the lion-and-sun motif as a symbol of his dynasty and state) 65 or a Rajput raja would not have identified themselves with the lamb, they were ascribed to the protected class by these Mughal painters through association with this animal. Remarkable in this respect is the self-identification of the painter Bichitr with a scene of the contained-violence type in a painting that he depicts as hanging from Shahjahan’s throne. Right over the lamb that is being watched by two lions he left his signature ‘drawn by the most insignificant slave Bichitr,’66 as if to recommend himself to the protection of the emperor.

Reading the walls of the Deccan: a multiplicity of enemies It is by no means my intention to present the animal symbolism of the Deccan exclusively in the light of a contrast between nomadic Muslims and sedentary Hindus. First of all some Hindu rulers also had their roots in the nomadic dry lands (the inner frontier of South Asia), a case in point being Shivaji, whose family hailed from a background of semi-nomadic pastoralists.67 Second, all rulers had a multiplicity of enemies with whom they dealt in different ways. On the walls of the Deccan this is reflected in series of two, three, four or seven reliefs reflecting different sorts of confrontations. The presentation as series is a clear indication that these reliefs of animal combats were to be ‘read.’ The only figurative decoration on the gate to the ceremonial core of the fortress that Shivaji constructed as his capital seat at Raigarh68 are four square reliefs depicting scenes of animal combat. The (east) side of the gate, facing outward, has to the left a lion or lion-like yāḷi subduing a small elephant that tries to walk up a slope, while beating back another small elephant with its tail, and to the right, a lion or yāḷi trampling four diminutive elephants with another on its back. The inner face has to the left a lion or yāḷi beating back a small elephant with its tail and crushing underfoot a double-headed bird which is trampling another elephant (Fig. 7.3); to the right is a near-mirror image of this scene but with a different animal crushed between the lion and the elephant, unfortunately damaged beyond 160

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Figure 7.3  A lion beating back an elephant while crushing a double-headed bird that is crushing another elephant on the west face of the gate to the ceremonial core of the Raigarh Fortress (c. 1670s?).

recognition. There is quite a close correspondence between this imagery and that presented in the Anupurāṇa discussed above. The reliefs near the four corners of the gate seem to present a narrative of Shivaji’s digvijaya or conquest of the four directions; while confronting different enemies in all directions he remained victorious like a lion.69 As for the double-headed bird in Fig. 7.3, this is probably a reference to Shivaji’s confrontation with the Wodeyar Nayak of Mysore during his southern campaign, for the Wodeyars used as their emblem the double-headed bird, or gandabherunda. A similar iconography was used over a century later on objects made for Tipu Sultan that display two tigers eating the two heads of the gandabherunda, ostensibly symbolizing the replacement of the Wodeyars by Tipu’s dynasty. The gandabherunda was itself a symbol of royal power of a number of Vaishnava dynasties in South India and from the mid-fifteenth century depicted as a vanquisher of elephants, as it is here. In the Raigarh relief the gandabherunda is both vanquishing and vanquished and thereby turned into a mere link in a chain of conquest or a ‘chain of destruction,’ to use the term coined by R.B.R. Narasimhacharya for this kind of superimposition of animals.70 161

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Figure 7.4  Reliefs over the entrance gate to Raigarh Fortress, c. 1670. Left: A lion trampling an elephant walking up a slope; right: A lion sheltering or threatening an elephant on a throne.

With some of his enemies, however, Shivaji had to come to an accommodation. Many of the Maratha leaders he left in charge of their domains as long as they recognized him and he could send revenue collectors into their lands. The tension between conquest and the need to build lasting alliances is illustrated by the stone reliefs decorating the entrance to Shivaji’s capital fortress at Raigarh, which depict a lion trampling an elephant walking up an incline (the Raigarh hill?) and a lion shielding a small elephant on a diminutive pedestal or throne (Fig. 7.4), respectively. We may read this pair of reliefs as follows: to some elephants, Shivaji is like a triumphant lion who tramples his enemies; but to other elephants, Shivaji is like a lion who allows them to stay on as protected vassals (hence the pedestal under the shielded elephant). Both lions are notably accompanied by a wheel symbolizing world conquest. A similarly complex narrative is offered by a pair of reliefs created in Bijapur during the period of Shivaji’s rise in the northwestern sectors of the sultanate. The reliefs flank an inscription on the Sharza bastion which was built for the lion gun discussed above (Fig. 7.5). The inscription yields the date 1069 H (1658–59 CE), during which year a large-scale campaign was launched against Shivaji, culminating in the dispatch of Afzal Khan early in the next year.71 In 1658 the sultan, referred to as a ghāzī in the inscription, was still a minor under the regency of his mother Khadija Sultana, and I think this is what we see in the relief to the left of the inscription: a lion cub 162

Figure 7.5  Reliefs to the left and right of the inscription at the Sharza bastion in Bijapur. The reliefs elaborate on the symbolism of the Monarch of the Field (Malik-i-Maidan) gun, for which the bastion was built.

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following either his deceased father Muhammad Adil Shah or his mother the regent (although it must be noted that both the lion and the cub are male). To the right of the inscription we see a lion threateningly sheltering an elephant under its paw. The lion demonstrates his readiness to strike but contains it, just as the some of the lions in the Mughal miniatures discussed above. In the relief, the lion is accompanied by a monkey, which makes the relief somewhat comparable to the relief at the Patancheru Gate of Golconda Fort with an elephant, a lion and a parrot. The role of the monkey in this scene of contained violence must once more be conjectured on the basis of its role in the Ṭūṭīnāma and related collections of animal tales of the time. In those tales the monkey generally features as a clever strategist, sometimes even as the wise minister of the lion king. There is also a story illustrated by a Mughal painting of c. 1600, which displays a similar monkey in a tree with a boar lying dead below. As explained by Toby Falk and Simon Digby, the painting refers to a story in which a monkey initially aids his friend the boar by shaking fruit from a tree, but the insatiable and ungrateful boar later tries to attack the monkey and is felled by a branch of the tree, which breaks under the boar’s weight.72 This is one of those stories in which small animals overcome large ones through cleverness. In the righthand relief on the Sharza bastion the monkey therefore probably signified the need for stratagem in general or for a clever minister specifically to make the arrangement between the elephant and the lion protector work. The ability of the monkey to overcome a boar perhaps also played a role in the monkey’s inclusion in this composition. The boar was after all one of the animals with which Shivaji associated himself. In any case we find here the unstable equilibrium between people within a state illustrated in an animal allegory that seems related to the allegories found in miniatures painted at the Mughal court. On the walls of Golconda Fortress, series of animal reliefs are found around the gates now known as Patancheru, Banjara and Jamali on the north side of the outer fort wall, which was built in the sixteenth century. Here we find not only a number of representations of victory and dominance but also of stand-offs. The bastion flanking the Jamali Gate for instance has two reliefs of equal size depicting respectively two elephants clashing and two lions clashing; two antagonists are presented as equals. At the Patancheru and Banjara gates we find some confrontations between near-equals. They are part of imaginative series that need to be discussed in more detail. Around the Patancheru Gate are a number of images of animals, including the haṃsas and lions-with-elephants on the corbels of the machicolations that were discussed in the last section. Three of the reliefs on the walls beside the gate clearly form a series, being of similar size and dimensions and inserted at equal height (Fig. 7.6). 164

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Figure 7.6  A series of three reliefs at the Patancheru Gate of Golconda Fortress, c. 1559. Top: Right side of the gate – A parrot watches a lion vanquish an elephant. Bottom left: Left side of the gate – two yāḷis confronting each other over an elephant. Bottom right: Further left of the gate – a lion vanquishing a blackbuck and fending off a man on a horse who is hiding behind a tree.

One of the reliefs from this series displaying a parrot watching a lion tearing up an elephant was already discussed above. Another has two lions or yāḷis fighting over an elephant. The combat is a stand-off with both lions keeping one claw on the elephant, although one of the lions seems slightly more fierce, his mouth opened in a roar. The third panel seems to be a variation on the theme of man killing felines found throughout the Vijayanagara Empire at the time. It resembles a relief dated to the first half of the sixteenth century found on the Mahanavami platform in Vijayanagara, which 165

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Figure 7.7  A royal figure on a horse (with an attendant holding an umbrella) spears a lion or tiger attacking an elephant, while another man stabs the feline from below. Vijayanagara, Mahanavami platform, first half of the sixteenth century (photograph by John Fritz).

depicts a feline trying to overcome an elephant while it is itself being pierced in the back by the lance of a royal figure on a horse and stabbed from below by another man (Fig. 7.7).73 The comparable relief in the Patancheru Gate series also has a lion attacking another animal and a man on a horse attacking the lion, but there is one important difference: the lion is winning the battle, not losing it. In the Golconda relief the lion dominates the image size-wise, and the prey of the lion, a blackbuck, is flat out under it, while the horseman has to hide behind a tree to try and stab the lion. In other words, it is another example of counter-symbolism, directed in this case against Vijayanagara. The political context at the time when the wall of the outer fort was built up in stone, around 1559, was that the Vijayanagara Empire, and particularly its prime minister, was vexing the Deccan sultanates and perhaps trying to regain the city of Kalyana, as Richard Eaton has argued. The decision to improve the fort at that time was directly related to the threat from Vijayanagara.74 Only a few years later, in 1565, Vijayanagara received a crushing blow from the joint forces of the Deccan sultans. Again it is not the intention of this paper to argue that the confrontation between the Hindu kings of Vijayanagara and the Deccan sultans was the only confrontation that mattered in this period. The Deccan sultans also waged endless wars between each other. At the Patancheru Gate, the panel with the clashing lions may represent those confrontations of Golconda with the other Deccan sultanates, in the way that Bhimsen expressed the confrontation between Golconda and the Mughal Empire over a century later as a confrontation between a tiger and a lion. Beside the Banjara Gate is another series of four animal-combat reliefs, probably displaying the same array of confrontations as the series around the Patancheru Gate. From left to right, we see two lions locked in a stand-off, banging their heads against each other (the profiles of their heads forming one frontal lion face). Then two





* by Robert Alan Simpkins).


trampling elephants; to the right a tiger and a buffalo bull fighting over a blackbuck or unicorn (photograph

Figure 7.8  Two of the reliefs at the Banjara Gate of Golconda, c. 1559. To the left lions or lion-like yāḷis

lions confronting each other while each trampling an elephant, and again the same combination of victorious and vanquished animals in a somewhat different arrangement. The rightmost panel diverges from the standard and depicts a tiger fighting a buffalo bull over a cervid (Fig. 7.8). The tiger, no doubt, is gaining the upper hand. The cervid, which is either a blackbuck or a unicorn, seems quite helpless. While the bull has just lost control over the cervid, it is not vanquished. It is fairly safe to assume that the Shiite ruler of Golconda (or the entire sultanate) is to be identified with the tiger, which symbolizes light, victory and the wild frontier. The buffalo may be seen to represent darkness and the enemy, as well as the archetypical domesticated animal of South Asia and, moreover, an animal protected by Hindus. The blackbuck or unicorn is more difficult to interpret,75 but may well stand for a disputed entity, most likely a small kingdom or perhaps a city like Kalyana. The notable thing about this latter relief is that while it has a confrontation between bull and feline, the bull is not vanquished but only kept in check. Parallels for such a stand-off between feline and bull – also suggestive of a lineage of this particular relief

the fighting on the wall



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at the Patancheru Gate – are a battle axe of the early Bahmani period (say around 1400) with a bull and lion seemingly ready to do battle atop the shaft, and a painting perhaps of that same epoch, attributed to the artist or group of artists known as ‘Siyah Qalam,’ who also worked in a Turco-Persianate environment, but further west and probably closer to Central Asia. In this drawing a lion and a bull of equal size are leering at each other and walking in a circle in anticipation of the first strike.76 When the Naya Qila extension of Golconda Fortress was built about a century after the main body of the outer fort walls,77 a number of reliefs were executed in stucco on the Naw Burj displaying some elaborate animal symbolism. Again these seven reliefs must be read as a series. Most of them are unfortunately rather damaged, so the following reading is tentative. From right to left we see a damaged animal trampling a horse and confronting another animal, a tiger confronting a man (with a European hat?) with a dragon biting a dog, a tiger trampling two boars who are also being attacked from below by two crocodiles, two lions confronting each other (shown with a single face) trampling two other fierce creatures, the sun rising over a yāḷi trampling a bird which was discussed earlier, a completely damaged relief, a triumphant peacock with two other birds. Again, we may suppose that the tigers and other victorious animals are to be identified with the Golconda sultan, then Abdullah. The boars in the central relief perhaps represent the remnants of the Vijayanagara Empire that were conquered and reconquered for Abdullah in the late 1640s and late 1650s, respectively from the last Vijayanagara emperor and from the Nayak Krishnappa along with his brother. The conquest of the eastern Karnataka region brought Golconda in contact with the main centres of the Dutch and English naval power in the region, which are perhaps represented in the same relief by the crocodiles (we may recall here that the Queen of Bijapur addressed a Dutch commander as ‘crocodile of the sea’ in this same period).78 The crocodiles in the relief are not vanquished like the boars, but their heads are well below the feet of the tiger.

Conclusion As was already noted, the self-identification of Tipu with the tiger was and is well recognized, and the machine of a tiger pushing an Englishman to the ground made for Tipu is therefore widely interpreted as a visualization of Tipu’s desire to vanquish the English.79 But it is less well known that Tipu’s symbolism stood in a long tradition of animal symbolism more remote from our present day as well as from the Anglophone world and therefore more easily overlooked and more difficult to interpret by modern 168

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academics. A Eurasia-wide genealogy and a careful analysis of which animal is victorious or dominant in which context may tease out the patterns that reveal the connection between animal symbols and the conscribed and ascribed identities of the patron and his opponents respectively. From this attempt at such a genealogy it emerges that the elements of the allegorical representations under discussion were not chosen merely on the basis of tradition but reflected some of the multiple identities of Self and Other current at the time of their making. In the case of Tipu’s tiger machine we can clearly see that the tiger is attacking the English as a group and not only their ruler, since the vanquished figure represents a mere soldier. Yet the earlier animal-combat reliefs of the Deccan also reflect on the identity – and with that the social group – of the patron and that of his opponent, even if sometimes only at the most basic level of good and bad. On close inspection these images of animal combat therefore tell us something about boundaries between groups in early modern India. The enemy was often represented by a domesticated animal, reflecting the reality that sedentary populations in South Asia tended to be overrun by frontier warriors. As was the case in the borderlands of the northeastern Mediterranean, the boundary between the settled and the mobile in South Asia coincided with that between religions in some cases. The ancient spiritual dimension of animal combat symbolism could be invoked in these contexts to portray the self as godly and the enemy as evil. Yet in South Asia the main antagonists of frontier dynasties were not the sedentary population but other frontier dynasts. The lion and tiger were appropriate for all, although Hindu kings had a wider repertory to choose from, including the boar or the double-headed eagle, or man. While the enemy was sometimes simply ascribed the identity of the settled through the symbols of domesticated elephant or bull, at other times the enemy’s own choice of symbol gave rise to complex counter-symbolism. At the same time, animal symbolism in early modern South Asia was not all about victory and defeat. It could also reflect the containment of violence or a desire for the absence of violence. In Mughal paintings and coeval Deccan stone reliefs we may detect many gradations of violence and a whole gamut of relationships between the patrons of these artworks and their enemies, allies, clients, protégés and so forth. It is therefore important to regard these expressions in relation to each other. The depiction in some allegories of harmony between animals as a representation of the relatively harmonious multicultural society that the Deccan sultanates and the Mughal Empire certainly were for a long time was only possible and necessary in a context of clear group boundaries with their concomitant clashes, be they contained or uncontained, also expressed in animal allegories. 169

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Notes 1 I am grateful to Pauline Lunsingh Scheurleer, H.W. Bodewitz, Jos Gommans, Jan Houben, Ellen Raven, Klaus Rötzer, Robert Alan Simpkins, Pushkar Sohoni, Eleanor Sims, Mark Brand, John Fritz, George Michell, Ebba Koch, Marika Sardar, Daud Ali and the late Simon Digby for drawing my attention to various art-historical parallels and relevant literature, and providing me with images. I would also like to thank Laura E. Parodi for her careful reading and many useful suggestions. 2 Michel Houellebecq and Bernard-Henri Lévy, Ennemis publics (Paris, 2008), 51. 3 Willy Hartner and Richard Ettinghausen, ‘The Conquering Lion, the Life Cycle of a Symbol,’ Oriens: Journal of the International Society for Oriental Research 17 (1964), 161–71. 4 Eberhard Sauer, The End of Paganism in the Northwestern Provinces of the Roman Empire: The Example of the Mithras Cult (Oxford, 1996), pls. 4, 9, 12, 18a, 21 and passim. 5 Stella Snead et al., Animals in Four Worlds: Sculptures from India (Chicago, 1989), 19–20, 167–69; Alexandra van der Geer, Animals in Stone: Indian Mammals Sculpted through Time (Leiden, 2008), 125–39. 6 Leendert A. van Daalen, ‘Reflections on the Enmity of Lion and Elephant and Other Poetical Fictions in Vakpati’s Gaudavaha,’ in Akten des Melzer-Symposiums 1991, ed. W. Slaje and C. Zinko. Arbeiten aus der Abteilung ‘Vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft’ Graz 4 (Graz, 1991), 71. 7 O.C. Gangoly, ‘The Story of Lion and Elephant,’ The Modern Review (Calcutta) September 1919, 280–82; Pramod Chandra, The Sculpture of India 3000 BC–1300 AD (Cambridge, MA, 1985), 142. 8 See van der Geer, Animals in Stone, pls. 139, 140. 9 See for example Aftabi, Ta‘rīf-i Ḥusayn Shāh Bādshāh Dakhan, ed. and tr. by G.T. Kulkarni and M.S. Mate (Pune, 1987), 71. See also Richard H. Davis, Lives of Indian Images (Princeton, NJ, 1997), 151–52; Kate Brittlebank, Tipu Sultan’s Search for Legitimacy: Islam and Kingship in a Hindu Domain (Delhi, 1997), 140–46; Marika Sardar, ‘Golconda through Time: A Mirror of the Evolving Deccan’ (Ph.D. diss., New York University, 2007), 128–29. 10 Hartner and Ettinghausen, ‘The Conquering Lion,’ 170 (translation adapted). 11 See Ghulam Yazdani, ‘Some Unpublished Inscriptions of the Bombay Presidency,’ in Epigraphia Indo-Moslemica (1935–36), 43–44, pl. xxxi. Yazdani there discusses and reproduces a theriomorphic calligraphic invocation of Ali on the walls of Ahmadnagar Fort. It is difficult to determine with certainty whether it embodies a lion or a tiger. It is also not clear whether this feline is trampling one or more other animals, although the upturned qāfs and wāws at its front feet might suggest elephant tusks. 12 Anne Buddle, Tigers round the Throne: The Court of Tipu Sultan (1750–1799) (London, 1990); see also Davis, Lives of Indian Images, 146–53; Brittlebank, Tipu Sultan’s Search for Legitimacy, 140–46; Susan Stronge, Tipu’s Tigers (London, 2009), 34–40.


the fighting on the wall 13 Max van Berchem et al., Amida (Heidelberg, 1901), 66–69, 76–87; Hartner and Ettinghausen, ‘The Conquering Lion;’ Joachim Gierlichs, Mittelalterliche Tierreliefs in Anatolien und Nordmesopotamien: Untersuchungen zur figürlichen Baudekoration der Seldschuken, Artuqiden und ihrer Nachfolger bis ins 15. Jahrhundert (Tübingen, 1996), 115, 120–25. 14 Gierlichs, Mittelalterliche Tierreliefs, 115. 15 Shapur A. Shahbazi, ‘Flags (of Persia),’ Encyclopaedia Iranica Online, published 15.12.1999, available at See also the Wikipedia article ‘The Lion and the Sun.’ 16 Burchard Brentjes argues that the meaning of the symbolism was somehow transposed from worldly power to divine power in this act of copying, but my argument would be that the spiritual and the worldly significance were immanent in both situations. Brentjes, Mittelasien: Kunst des Islam (Leipzig, 1979), 17, 119. 17 The reconstruction of the tile tableaux in Yazdani’s work on Bidar has no prey for the lions. Ghulam Yazdani, Bidar: Its History and Monuments (Oxford, 1947), 66–70 and pl. XXXVII. 18 Ruy González de Clavijo, Narrative of the Embassy of Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo to the Court of Timour at Samarcand 1403–6, tr. Clements R. Markham (London, 1859), 124. 19 M. Garcin de Tassy, Histoire de la littérature hindoue et hindoustani (2d ed, Paris, 1870). See also C.A. Bayly, Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780–1870 (Cambridge, 1996), 201. 20 Ghawwasi, Ṭūṭī Nāma, ed. M.S.A. Rizvi (Hyderabad, 1357 H [=1939 CE]). 21 Zuhuri, Muḥammad Nāma, Punjab State Archives, Persian ms. M/727, fol. 153v. Summary translation by Bhagwat Dayal Verma in ‘History in Muhammad Nama,’ in Shivajī-Nibandhavali 2 (Pune, 1930), 88–89. 22 Paramananda, The Epic of Shivaji: Kavindra Paramananda’s Sivabharata, tr. by James Laine in collaboration with S.S. Bahulkar (Hyderabad, 2001). 23 See the discussion of the zoogeography of the South Asia in Jos Gommans, ‘The Silent Frontier of South Asia c. 1100–1800,’ Journal of World History 9/1 (Spring 1998), 10–11. 24 National Archives, The Hague: Letter Masulipatam to Batavia 13.8.1683, VOC 1387: folios 1414v-15. 25 Hamiduddin Khan Bahadur [ascribed to], Anecdotes of Aurangzib, tr. by Jadunath Sarkar (4th ed., Calcutta, 1963), 42. 26 National Archives, The Hague: Translated letter from Bijapur Queen Bari Sahiba 25.5.1663, VOC 1241: folio 335. 27 See Linda York Leach, Mughal and Other Indian Paintings from the Chester Beatty Library, vol. 1 (London, 1995), 398–400 and fig. 3.25. 28 Ebba Koch, Shah Jahan and Orpheus: the Pietre Dure Decoration and the Programme of the Throne in the Hall of Public Audiences at the Red Fort of Delhi (Graz, 1988), 30–33. 29 Snead et al., Animals, 11–13. 30 Ibid.


The Visual World of Muslim India 31 Bhimsen, Sir Jadunath Sarkar Birth Centenary Commemoration Volume: English Translation of Tarikh-i Dilkasha (Memoirs of Bhimsen relating to Aurangzib’s Deccan Campaigns), tr. Jadunath Sarkar and others, ed. V.G. Khobrekar (Bombay, 1972), 148. 32 Robert Elgood, Hindu Arms and Ritual: Arms and Armour in India 1400–1865 (Delft, 2004), 116, 148. Compare Anna L. Dallapiccola and Anila Verghese, Sculpture at Vijayanagara: Iconography and Style. Vijayanagara Research Project Monograph Series 6 (Delhi, 1998), 102. 33 Heinrich von Stietencron, ‘Political Aspects of Indian Religious Art,’ Visible Religion 4–5 (1985–86), 19–22. 34 George Michell, Architecture and Art of Southern India: Vijayanagara and the Successor States, 1350–1750 (Cambridge/New York, 1995), 155–56. Lennart Bes, ‘The Setupatis, the Dutch, and Other Bandits in Eighteenth Century Ramnad (South India),’ Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 44 (2001), 566. 35 Paramananda, Epic, canto 5 and verses 16.65, 19.28–31. 36 Compare the observation by two Dutch East India Company employees in National Archives, The Hague, Herbert de Jager and Nicolaes Clement at Velikondawaram to Pulicat 10.8.1677, VOC 1328: folio 620v. 37 Both paintings were executed a few years after Shivaji’s death but probably go back to one or more examples made during his lifetime. The painting in the British Museum album 1974–6–17–011 can be dated on the basis of the biographical details given in the Dutch captions of the whole series to between May 1682 and October 1685. The portrait in Paris, Musée Guimet (no. 35.554), was also done after the death of Shivaji, probably, based on the captions of the other Golconda miniatures with which it seems to form a series, between April 1683 and October 1685. In other Golconda paintings of this period (now held in the Staatsbibliothek Berlin, Amsterdam Rijksmuseum, former Prince of Wales Museum Mumbai) Shivaji also has a patta with a covered handle of a similar shape, but the details are not worked out. In the ‘Manucci album’ in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the gauntlet is bejewelled but not clearly of an animal shape. For the Golconda albums in general and pictures of the Berlin, Amsterdam, Guimet and Manucci Shivaji portraits, see Pauline Lunsingh Scheurleer, ‘Het Witsenalbum: zeventiende-eeuwse Indiase portretten op bestelling,’ Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 44 (1996): 167–254. The British Museum painting is reproduced in their digital catalogue; for a detail of the Guimet Museum painting and a further discussion of Shivaji’s identity, see Chapter 4 of my Xenophobia in Seventeenth-Century India (Leiden, 2009). 38 Brittlebank, Tipu Sultan’s Search, 140–46. 39 Bashir Mohamed, L’Art de chevaliers en pays d’Islam: Collection de la Furusiyya Art Foundation (Milan, 2007). For two pertinent paintings of Ali I see Elgood, Hindu Arms, 115, pls. 11.9 and 11.10. 40 Michael Rostovtzeff, The Animal Style in South Russia and China (Princeton, 1929), 68. 41 Rostovtzeff, The Animal Style, 104 and passim. See also Gierlichs, Tierreliefs, 109 and Liudmila Nikolaevna Koriakova and Andrei Vladimirovich Epimakhor, The Urals and Western Siberia in the Bronze and Iron Ages (Cambridge, 2007), 310.


the fighting on the wall 42 The box with inv. no. 5/2002 has been dated to between 966 and 968 CE. See the museum’s website: 43 On the ‘condition of post-nomadism,’ see André Wink, Indo-Islamic Society 14th–15th Centuries, vol. 3 of Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World (Leiden, 2003), 119–69. 44 Gli Arabi in Italia: Cultura, Contatti e Tradizione, ed. Francesco Gabrieli and Umberto Scerrato (Milan, 1985), pls. 40–96. 45 See the contributions by Thomas Steppan and Lutz-Richter-Bernburg in Die Artuqiden-Schale. Mittelalterliche Emailkunst zwischen Orient und Occident, ed. Thomas Steppan (Innsbruck 1996), 13–36, 39–44 and pls. 1–13;. Scott Redford, ‘How Islamic Is It? The Innsbruck Plate and Its Setting,’ Muqarnas 7 (1990), 119–35. 46 Redford, ‘How Islamic Is It?’ 47 Compare and contrast Gierlichs, Tierreliefs, 88, 96–98, 121; van Berchem et al., Amida, 66–69. 48 See Jos Gommans, ‘The Eurasian Frontier after the First Millennium AD: Reflections along the Fringe of Time and Space,’ The Medieval History Journal 1 (1998), 125–43 and id., Mughal Warfare (London 2002), 39–64; Clifford Edmund Bosworth, The New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Manual (Edinburgh, 2004), 325, 328. 49 Henry Cousens, Bijapur and its Architectural Remains (Delhi, 1916), 29–31. 50 J. van Twist, ‘Generale beschrijvinghe van Indien,’ in Begin ende voortgangh der Oost-Indische Compagnie, ed. I. Commelin (Amsterdam, 1646), vol. II, 76. 51 See Kruijtzer, Xenophobia, 232–33. 52 The theme of sages pacifying their environment, and especially animals in their vicinity, by their sheer presence, occurs in both the Islamicate and the Sanskritic traditions. See Koch, Shah Jahan, and J.E.M. Houben, ‘To Kill or Not to Kill the Sacred Animal (Yajña-Paśu)? Arguments and Perspectives in Brahminical Ethical Philosophy,’ in Violence Denied; Violence, Non-Violence and the Rationalisation of Violence in South Asian cultural history, ed. J.E.M. Houben and K.M. van Kooij (Leiden, 1999), 141. 53 Khalili Collection Ms 979 fol. 21b. J.M. Rogers, The Arts of Islam: Masterpieces from the Khalili Collection (London, 2010), 277–78. 54 National Archives, The Hague, diary of embassy to Bijapur in dato 11.1.1637, VOC 1122: folio 471v. 55 The salver is described by Jagdish Mittal in India! Art and Culture 1300–1900, ed. Stuart Cary Welch (New York, 1988), no. 209, 311–13 and fig. 209. 56 Lā Ilāha illā ‘Alī-Allāh / Muḥammad wālīullāh [wa] rasūlullāh / naṣrun min Allāh wa fatḥun qarībun. Qur’an 61.13, after Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s translation (Lahore, 1938). Annemarie Schimmel has suggested to Jagdish Mittal that there are errors in the inscription which indicate it was executed by someone who did not know Arabic, but it seems to me that the inscription was deliberately idiosyncratic to accommodate for the modification of the kalima into an expression of mystical devotion to Ali and Muhammad and the word order scrambled in order to position the word Muhammad between the name of God repeated.


The Visual World of Muslim India 57 Compare D.J. Matthews, ‘The Kulliyat of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah: Problems and Prospects,’ in Urdu and Muslim South Asia: Studies in Honour of Ralph Russell, ed. Christopher Shackle (London, 1989), 44; Kruijtzer, Xenophobia, 8, 83–84, 266–67. 58 Furusiyya Art Foundation no. R-407. Mohamed, Collection de la Furusiyya Art Foundation, 229. 59 Compare Richard M. Eaton, Sufis of Bijapur 1300–1700: Social Roles of Sufis in Medieval India (Princeton, NJ, 1978), 19–44 ; Nile Green, Indian Sufism since the Seventeenth Century (London, 2006), 11–19. 60 Sufis and Soldiers in Awrangzeb’s Deccan: Malfúzát-i Naqshbandiyya, tr. Simon Digby (Oxford, 2001), 71. 61 Koch, Shah Jahan, 33–35, 50, nos. 132, 133, and passim. 62 In the Freer Gallery of Art (inv. no. 39.49) and a private collection respectively. Reproduced in Koch, Shah Jahan, pls. 54, 55. Contrast also the scenes of peaceful bliss and contained violence depicted on the throne of Shahjahan within paintings in Bodleian Library ms. Ousely Add. 173 no.13 and the Windsor Castle Library Pādshāhnāma respectively. Reproduced in Koch, Shah Jahan, pl. 58 and Milo Cleveland Beach and Ebba Koch, King of the World. The Padshahnama: an Imperial Mughal Manuscript from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle (London, 1997), pl. 10 and fig. 85. 63 Freer Gallery of Art inv. no. 45.9. Reproduced in Milo Cleveland Beach, Mughal and Rajput Painting, vol 1.3 of The New Cambridge History of India (Cambridge, 1992), pl. 78. 64 Leach, Paintings from the Chester Beatty Library, vol. I, 405. 65 Shahbazi, ‘Flags (of Persia).’ 66 Beach and Koch, King of the World, 167–69. 67 Gommans, ‘Eurasian Frontier,’ 133–39; Ananya Vajpeyi, ‘Excavating Identity through Tradition: Who Was Shivaji,’ in Traditions in Motion: Religion and Society and History, ed. Satish Saberwal and Supriya Varma (Delhi, 2005), 240–71. 68 As to the date of these reliefs: those on the outer gate discussed in the next paragraph are clearly part of the original bastion, constructed as part of the original black stone fortifications built under Shivaji before 1674. The gate of a lighter stone at the core of the complex discussed in this paragraph could be an addition by his successors and/or the animal reliefs could be later embellishments, as at least the surface of the reliefs on the west face does not connect neatly to the surrounding surface. Compare the report of the English ambassador Oxinden to Raigarh in English Records on Shivajī (1659–1682), vol. 4 of the Shivajī Tercentenary Memorial Series 4 (Pune, 1931), 372, pl. 1, and George Michell and Mark Zebrowski, Architecture and Art of the Deccan Sultanates, vol. 1.7 of The New Cambridge History of India (Cambridge, 1999), 56–58. 69 While the classical concept of digvijaya is not mentioned in the Anupurāṇa, it is certainly implicit there, while in the eighteenth century one of the bakhars or Marathi epics about Shivaji was entitled Śivadigvijaya. Paramananda, Epic, verses 5.29, 30.26 and passim. A partial translation of the Śivadigvijaya is in Surendranath Sen, Śiva Chhatrapati (Calcutta, 1920).


the fighting on the wall 70 Elgood, Hindu Arms, 176; Davis, Lives of Indian Images, 150–51; Stronge, Tipu’s Tigers, 38–39; Brigitte Khan Majlis, ‘Gandabherunda Images on Textiles and Monuments of South India,’ in South India under Vijayanagara: Art and Archaeology, ed. Anila Verghese and Anna L. Dallapiccola (Oxford, 2011), 263–72. 71 Cousens, Bijapur, 30; Jadunath Sarkar, Shivajī and His Times (5th ed.: Calcutta, 1952), 59–68. 72 Toby Falk et al., Paintings from Mughal India (London, 1979), 39. 73 Dallapiccola and Verghese, Sculpture at Vijayanagara, 102, 355. 74 Sardar, ‘Golconda,’ 126–28; Richard M. Eaton, A Social History of the Deccan, 1300–1761: Eight Indian Lives (Cambridge, 2005), 78–104. 75 If a unicorn, it would stem from the Islamicate tradition: see the discussion of the various types of unicorns in Joachim Gierlichs, Drache-Phönix-Doppeladler: Fabelwesen in der islamischen Kunst. Bilderheft der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin-Preussischer Kulturbesitz 75/76 (Berlin, 1993), 29–32. It may also be a blackbuck in profile, with only one horn visible: compare the discussion of the so-called ‘unicorn seals’ of the Indus Valley in van der Geer, Animals in Stone, 112–14. 76 Furusiyya Art Foundation inv. no. R-736/163. Mohamed, Collection de la Furusiyya Art Foundation, 267. For the Siyah Qalam drawing (Topkapi Palace Museum, Hazine 2160, fol. 90v) see Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt, ‘Siyah Qalem and Gong Kai: An Istanbul Album Painter and a Chinese Painter of the Mongolian Period,’ Muqarnas 4 (1987), 59–71, fig. 14. 77 For the dating of the Naya Qila see Sardar, ‘Golconda,’ 183, n. 361. 78 Haroon Khan Sherwani, History of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty (New Delhi, 1974), 455–62; National Archives, The Hague, Letter Pulicat factory to Van Goens 9.11.1658 and resolution Pulicat factory 5.5.1659, VOC 1231: folios 682v-3, 741. 79 Anne Buddle, Tigers round the Throne, 80–83; Davis, Lives of Indian Images, 146–53.


8 Va r i ations on a P er si a n Theme The Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah and the Birth of the Illustrated Urdu Dīwān

—Laura Weinstein—


he Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad contains a unique and sumptuous copy of the Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah, ruler of the Qutb Shahi sultanate of Golconda from 1580 to 1612.1 This Dīwān was produced at the turn of the seventeenth century, when Dakani – the early form of Urdu in which Muhammad-Quli wrote his poems – was first being used as a literary language. It is the earliest known illustrated Urdu dīwān as well as the earliest known royal Qutb Shahi illustrated manuscript, having been made for the author himself. In its formal characteristics it is a regal manuscript indeed: its 138 folios intersperse expertly inscribed poems with eight vibrant paintings and a series of creatively illuminated margins and headings. In publications since 1963 several art historians have noted the distinctive style of the miniatures and deliberated on how they might figure into the development of painting in Golconda.2 During the same period, literary scholars have refined their views of the text and produced new translations and analyses of it.3 The work of these two groups of scholars has laid a firm foundation for the study reported in the following pages, which considers not only the style of the paintings or the form and meaning of the text but also how the manuscript works as a whole. In this essay I will present evidence of an overlooked dimension of the manuscript: the ways in which the paintings in the Dīwān do not merely accompany Muhammad-Quli’s pioneering literary work but also endow it with prestige by augmenting and enhancing it in the manner of a Persian dīwān.4 179

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The manuscript – codicology and dating Of the eight manuscripts of Muhammad-Quli’s Dīwān or poetic collection that survive today, only the Salar Jung copy includes paintings.5 Currently encased in a nineteenth-century binding, the manuscript is relatively small, with folios measuring only 260x147 mm.6 This binding in fact holds two texts, both in Dakani: the Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli and that of a later Qutb Shahi ruler, Abdullah Qutb Shah (r. 1626–72).7 Within the pages of Muhammad-Quli’s Dīwān one finds eight paintings, a double-page illuminated frontispiece, a double-page sarlawḥ at the opening of the text and three less elaborate ‘unwāns (headings).8 Five of the eight paintings also have opulently decorated margins.9 Despite the care lavished on the manuscript by its makers, it was never completely finished. Early pages have gold rules and gold-speckled paper, but by folio six the rules are only partly complete, and by folio eight there are no rules at all. Nevertheless, the total effect is one of extreme luxury, making this manuscript one truly suited for a royal patron. Various inscriptions and dedications reinforce the impression that this is a royal manuscript. First, the title of the Dīwān appears on folio 3v, inscribed in white on a blue medallion within a rich sarlawḥ (Fig. 8.1). The title can be translated as: ‘Dīwān of the Solomonic royal highness, may God perpetuate his reign.’10 The royal epithets in this title suggest that the manuscript was copied during the reign of Muhammad-Quli, as it is unlikely that the author would have been referred Figure 8.1  Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah, to in this manner during the reign of 1590–1605, folio 3v. Watercolour, gold and ink on paper (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, ms. 153). a successor.11 180

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Second, an inscription on a flyleaf at the beginning of the manuscript records the identity of the calligrapher. According to this admittedly damaged inscription, the fourteen lines of naskh that appear on each text page of the Dīwān were inscribed by Zaynuddin Ali, a prominent Qutb Shahi scribe who also produced many of the calligraphic specimens in a royal album now at the Chester Beatty Library.12 The inscription reads: ‘…Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah… with four ‘unwāns and sarlawḥs and paintings, in the writing of Moulana Zain ud-Din ‘Ali Khushnawis… in the Deccani language.’13 Unfortunately, we do not know when this inscription was added to the manuscript or by whom. Since much of Zaynuddin Ali’s calligraphic work in the Chester Beatty album is similar in style to the calligraphy in this manuscript, and since it is very likely that the Dīwān and the album were produced for the same patron, this inscription can nevertheless be considered fairly reliable. The third inscription, on folio 3v, contains the name of the illuminator. It can be translated as: This work, O king, you entrusted to me. May it exalt you. May these ten ornamented tablets be worthy of your poetry. This is our prayer, that in the two worlds Allah, Muhammad and Ali shall be your friends. The least of your slaves, the humblest of the humble, Qasim Ali al-Mudhahhib.14 These lines are written in minuscule white nasta‘līq on a blue border that runs around the bottom half of the text block. The laqab ‘al-Mudhahhib’ suggests that its author was an illuminator, a notion supported by the fact that this is the conventional place for illuminators to sign their work.15 Currently there is no colophon at the end of Muhammad-Quli’s text, nor are there relevant seals or dated inscriptions.16 The inscriptional evidence reviewed above suggests, however, that this was Muhammad-Quli’s own copy of his Dīwān, produced during his rule. Since he was only fifteen at the time of his accession, it is not likely that he would have written his Dīwān and ordered such a manuscript made before about 1590. Since Zainuddin Ali is known to have been working for MuhammadQuli between 1591 and 1605 (based on signed and dated pages of calligraphy in the Chester Beatty album), it is most likely that the manuscript was produced between 1590 and 1605.17


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Context: historical background and cultural orientation Although the Qutb Shahs sponsored architectural monuments throughout the sixteenth century, and there are some hints of patronage of the arts of the book in Golconda before 1590, it seems that a new era in royal patronage dawned at the beginning of that decade.18 It was in 1591, at the millennium in the ḥijrī calendar, that Muhammad-Quli founded Hyderabad, the Qutb Shahs’ new capital city. Soon after, he commissioned a number of buildings that provided services essential to the new city: civic monuments such as the Char Minar and Char Kaman, religious centres such as the Jami Masjid and Badshahi Ashurkhana, and social-service centres such as the Darulshifa or general hospital.19 It seems that Muhammad-Quli also maintained a royal manuscript workshop in one of his palaces – possibly the Khudadad Mahal – where all manner of bookproduction activities took place, including paper-making, manuscript illumination, gilding and painting.20 The workforce occupied with these tasks probably included both locals and immigrants. Based on the manuscripts this workshop produced, it is clear its scribes were adept at writing and probably also reading Persian, Arabic and Dakani. It is unfortunate that only two manuscripts (the Dīwān that is the subject of this chapter and the Qutb Shahi album in the Chester Beatty Library) seem to have survived from what was surely a prolific workshop. This must have been an exciting time to be in Golconda. The Qutb Shahi dynasty, founded by an immigrant from Hamadan (a city in northwestern Iran) in the early sixteenth century, had survived several contentious succession disputes and threats from rival polities, and was flourishing in the wake of its territorial expansion after the defeat of southern rival Vijayanagara in 1565. Golconda’s port at Masulipatnam was on the rise, for the first time becoming a major nexus of coastal and Indian Ocean trade, and courtly arts were thriving, receiving patronage not just from the ruler but also from his many nobles.21 Golconda’s prosperity drew great numbers of immigrants from various regions. Many of these immigrants were wealthy and skilled individuals from the Safavid kingdom who were attracted by the opportunities the Qutb Shahi court offered for Iranians with experience in military, mercantile and political matters. The flow of immigrants from Iran to Indian courts had been set in motion centuries before – when the Bahmani court based in Gulbarga and Bidar raised Iranians to some of the highest positions at court – and had hardly abated since. While some of the Iranians in Golconda were involved in trade and made voyages back and forth between the two regions, others settled in India permanently.22 182

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The Qutb Shahi royal family did just that. The founder, Sultan-Quli (d. 1543), arrived in India in the late fifteenth century and, finding himself rising quickly among the ranks of the Bahmani Empire, never returned to his native Hamadan. His son and grandson, first- and second-generation immigrants, inherited the state he carved out of the collapsing Bahmani Empire. Although these Indian-born rulers had no firsthand experience of Iran, Persian culture continued to occupy an honoured position in Qutb Shahi society. During the reign of Muhammad-Quli the Persian language was used for literary, historical and administrative purposes, and many of the ruler’s top advisors were recent Iranian immigrants. Muhammad-Quli himself maintained a correspondence with the Safavid shah.23 The importance of the role that Iranians and Persian culture played in Golconda can hardly be overstated, as many publications on this topic attest.24 What is sometimes lost in these publications, however, is the question of how Persian language and culture interacted with the other cultural forces that animated Golconda’s population. Golconda’s inhabitants included not only immigrants from Iran and their descendants, but also immigrants from East Africa, local or ‘Deccani’ Muslims and Telugu-speaking Hindus. The intensity of ‘cultural synthesis’ in the region was noted by Haroon Khan Sherwani as early as 1963, but until recently his point was lost within the rhetoric of communalism, as scholars framed the Deccan as the site of clashes between the ‘Islamic’ Deccani sultanates and the ‘Hindu’ state of Vijayanagara.25 Sherwani’s insight has lately been recognized and extended by a new generation of scholars working on the Deccan. Phillip B. Wagoner, for example, has shown how the rich environment of cultural exchange provided fertile ground for creative innovations in literature and architecture in Golconda during the sixteenth century.26 It is likely, therefore, that in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, most members of Golconda’s courtly community were both well versed in Persian language and culture and familiar to varying degrees with the cultural practices of Telangana and the Deccan more broadly. What role did Persian culture play in the identities of these multilingual and multicultural people? Scholars have tended to skirt around this question by simply asserting that Iran ‘dominated’ or ‘influenced’ Golconda’s elite culture, a reductive formulation that ignores the considerable power held by Deccani Muslims at the court and the active patronage of Telugu on the part of the Qutb Shahi rulers. The illustrated copy of Muhammad-Quli’s Dīwān does not hold a final answer to this question, since it represents neither all members of Golconda’s courtly community nor all periods of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, but it does offer a point of entry.


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The text Ibrahim Qutb Shah (r. 1550–80), Muhammad-Quli’s father and a first-generation Indian, ‘is remembered in Telugu oral tradition not only as an ideal king but also as a great connoisseur and patron of Telugu literature.’27 He seems to have passed his interest in promoting regional literature along to his son, who is known for his contributions not to Telugu but to Dakani. Dakani, the language in which the Dīwān is written, is a form of Hindustani written in the Arabic script that emerged among the diverse inhabitants of the Deccan plateau in the fifteenth century.28 The interaction of Persian, Arabic and Indic language speakers gave rise to this new tongue, which freely combined words, syntax and ideas from all of their languages. Through cultivation by Deccani courts like Golconda’s, Dakani soon became a highly refined literary language that followed the conventions of Perso-Arabic literature but added to and creatively altered them.29 Muhammad-Quli was one of the earliest major poets of Dakani and his choice to compose in this language reveals a great deal about his self-conceptions and ambitions.30 As Sumit Guha has shown, authors in the medieval Deccan were faced with an important choice: whether to write in a local vernacular like Dakani or a translocal language like Persian.31 This decision profoundly affected the form, meaning, and audience of their work. In effect, it determined the cultural horizon to which it would belong. Indeed, both the language and the subject matter of Muhammad-Quli’s compositions in Dakani suggest an author deeply embedded in Deccani regional culture.32 Many of his poems, for example, describe festivals that were celebrated in Golconda such as Nawrūz (Persian new year), Shab-i Barāt (a Muslim festival celebrated in India with unique traditions) and Basant (the Indian celebration of spring). Others use metaphors inspired by Sanskrit poetry to lovingly describe women of great beauty and the palaces in which they enjoyed Muhammad-Quli’s royal hospitality. In addition to the use of subjects that reflect the region, Indic literary devices play a vital role in Muhammad-Quli’s poetry. Carla Petievich has argued, for example, that the Indic tradition of writing poetry from the point of view of a female longing for her lover (the virahiṇī) – a perspective frequently assumed by Muhammad-Quli – was the ‘quintessential, and distinctive, Indic element’ in Dakani literature, as it was in other early forms of Urdu.33 Petievich locates the origins of this practice of writing in the feminine voice in an ancient Indic literary tradition which found expression in North Indian Krishna bhaktī poetry before it appeared in Urdu in the sixteenth century. An example of Muhammad-Quli’s use of the virahiṇī is as follows: 184

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Sweetheart, don’t jerk me around— I’m already your slave! I’ve embarked upon the Fivefold Path with ease. Day broke as I passed the time with you on Love’s bed: my eyes are drunk on just your memory O you of consummate charm, see how enslaved this poor girl is to you! It was clear you’d robbed her of her senses: on account of you the universe ceased to exist for her. By the grace of the Prophet you are Qutb’s sweetheart: go ahead – adorn yourself in deceit and trickery!34 In the case of this poem, not only is Muhammad-Quli working within an Indic tradition by writing from the point of view of a female intoxicated and enslaved by love, but he also mentions the ‘fivefold path’ which Petievich suggests may be a reference to an Ayurvedic practice of self-purification. Although Muhammad-Quli’s compositions were no doubt profoundly shaped by regional culture, his Dīwān nevertheless employed the framework of Persian literature. In the Persian tradition, which was established in dīwāns as early as the eleventh century, a dīwān is a collection of poems in forms such as the ghazal, qaṣīda, mathnawī and qit‘a. The poems are organized first according to the lyric form and then according to the radīf or the morpheme repeated at the end of each verse. Muhammad-Quli’s Dīwān follows these rules in both poetic format and organization, and the poet himself proudly reminds us that his Dakani poetry must be understood in relation to the Persian literary tradition by describing himself in one poem as ‘the very axis [quṭb] of the school to which Khaqani and Nizami belonged.’35 Petievich sums up the relation of Dakani poetry to Persian by saying that Dakani ghazals emulate ‘core conventions of Perso-Arabic poetry’ while simultaneously introducing ‘innovations [that] are both exuberant and expansive.’36 In the words of 185

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Ali Akbar Husain, another scholar who has written about Muhammad-Quli’s poetry, the ‘rang-ras (mood) of the nāyika’ pervades Muhammad-Quli’s poems ‘even as the poet concedes his debt to the wine-and-love lyrics of Hafiz.’37 Given the inventiveness with which Muhammad-Quli’s poems adapt Persian literary forms to new local purposes, one might reasonably expect that the Dīwān would contain similarly pioneering paintings. On the contrary, however, the paintings in the manuscript are much more conventional than the poems. We will now turn to these intriguing paintings.

The paintings The history of the illustrated Persian dīwān has yet to be written.38 As a result, it is more difficult to assess how Muhammad-Quli’s Dīwān innovates within the conventions of Persian dīwāns in a pictorial sense than in a literary sense. This type of illustrated manuscript dates at least back to the early fifteenth century, when two elaborate copies of the Dīwān of the Jalayirid ruler Sultan Ahmad (r. 1382–1410) were produced.39 These manuscripts do not contain paintings but rather extraordinary marginal drawings of landscapes, hunting scenes and vignettes of nomadic life. According to Thomas Lentz and Glenn Lowry, their subject matter derives not from the poems that they accompany but from contemporary life.40 The illustrated dīwān continued to develop under the Timurids and later the Safavids. A fairly standard sixteenth-century example is a copy of the Dīwān of Hafiz in the Rylands Library.41 This manuscript contains four small but high-quality miniatures in a Shiraz style, c. 1580. This kind of sparse pictorial program is typical of illustrated dīwāns. The subjects of the paintings are as follows: a hunting party; dervishes dancing; a prince playing polo; a battle scene. Again, the paintings do not literally illustrate the text they accompany. Although there are Persian dīwāns in which paintings and text are closely related, the frequent absence of a strong connection is due at least in part to the fact that the text of most dīwāns is largely comprised of poems that do not contain continuous narratives, episodes of which could be illustrated sequentially. Instead, artists often turned to generic scenes and to episodes from well-known stories. The images were then dispersed throughout the manuscript, providing the viewer with occasional relief from the rigours of reading poetry. These same conventions apply to illustrated dīwāns in languages other than Persian. For example, the Dīwān of Khata’i (Shah Isma‘il Safavi, r. 1502–24) in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery was composed not in Persian but in Turcoman Turkish. This royal 186

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Safavid manuscript, dated c. 1520, is similar to Muhammad-Quli’s Dīwān in that it too contains the poems of the ruler under whose auspices it was produced.42 Also like Muhammad-Quli’s text, the poems employ conventions and genres of Persian poetry even though they are not in Persian. Thus, Shah Isma‘il’s poems include ghazals, qaṣīdas and mathnawīs. Wheeler Thackston has shown that while the three surviving paintings, which are stylistically congruent with other early Safavid paintings, could easily be mistaken for generic scenes, in this case they are directly related to the poems that they accompany.43 When we turn from this brief look at illustrated dīwāns in Persian and other languages to Muhammad-Quli’s Dīwān, we quickly see that it follows many of the same pictorial and textual conventions. It has relatively few paintings which are dispersed throughout the text and which feature common subjects such as a polo game, a scene from the story of Yūsuf wa Zulaykhā, a king being entertained in his court, Solomon and the Queen of Sheba enthroned, and so on. The images do not relate directly to the text they accompany, although in some cases there are loose connections (which will be noted). One also finds continuity with dīwāns produced in Iran at the level of the composition and iconography of the individual paintings. This is exemplified by the first painting in the manuscript (folio 5r) which depicts a polo game (Fig. 8.2). As in so many paintings of polo matches from sixteenth-century Shiraz manuscripts of the Shāhnāma, the Majālis al-‘Ushshāq and Arifi’s Gūy u Chawgān, the miniature depicts Figure 8.2  Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah, 1590– two polo teams in the midst of a 1605, folio 5r. Watercolour, gold and ink on paper (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, ms. 153). match, accompanied by a band of 187

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Figure 8.3  Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah,

Figure 8.4  Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah,

1590–1605, folio 29v. Watercolour, gold and ink on

1590–1605, folio 53v. Watercolour, gold and ink on

paper (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, ms. 153).

paper (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, ms. 153).

musicians on the balcony of a nawbat khāna. One also finds two pairs of goal posts and a group of admiring onlookers. The polo players have been divided into a male and a female team, each with a crowned player at the centre. Polo matches between all-female and all-male teams appear in several texts, including the Dārābnāma and the Khamsa of Nizami.44 This painting may be intended to allude to one of these stories, or it may have been envisioned as a generic scene of the quintessential royal sport.45 Despite its overall conventionality, there are a few features of this painting that do not appear in comparable examples made in Iran or Central Asia. One is the palette, which is centred around the juxtaposition of bright blue and orange and the ample use of gold. These colours often appear together in Persian paintings, but the emphasis on them is heightened here: virtually every figure in the painting 188

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is dressed in a combination of blue and orange. A second distinctive feature is the depiction of the rocky hills on the horizon as pale violet mounds studded with bright-orange and blue rocks. This treatment of rocks appears again on folio 87v of the Dīwān. Both the consistent use of certain colours in the Dīwān’s paintings and the density of its compositions have been noted in previous literature on the manuscript, in which scholars have seen the Dīwān as presaging the emergence of a distinctive and original ‘Golconda style.’46 This formulation is problematic, because it presupposes a pattern of development towards a style of painting unique to Golconda, despite the fact that there is little evidence that such a style ever existed. It is no doubt true, however, that these features impart a distinct and coherent look to the manuscript. Like the first, the fourth and fifth paintings in the manuscript (folios 29v and 53v) would not be out of place in a sixteenth-century Persian dīwān, particularly one produced in Shiraz (Figs. 8.3, 8.4). A brief reference to King Solomon in the poem adjacent to folio 29v aids but is not critical to identification of the subject of the painting, since both it and 53v follow exactly the iconography and composition codified in sixteenth-century manuscripts for the depiction of King Solomon and his consort, Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba.47 This extends even to the appearance of the Tāj-i Ḥaydarī – a headgear characteristic of the early Safavid period and commonly appearing in manuscripts made in Iran during the first half of the sixteenth century.48 Solomon appears on folio 29v, enthroned outside and surrounded by his courtly retinue of human beings, animals and demons. A host of small birds and a sīmurgh swirl about in the sky above. Bilqis is depicted on folio 53v in a palatial setting, being entertained by dancers and musicians while angels dive down towards her carrying emblems of rule. The paintings so faithfully repeat the iconography of sixteenth-century Solomon and Bilqis imagery that it is not difficult to imagine they were copied directly from a manuscript made in Iran or Central Asia, before being enhanced according to local taste. As with the first painting, the artists of the Dīwān have used iconic Persianate imagery in such a way as to make it easily recognizable as such while simultaneously incorporating into it new elements that would not have been found in comparable Iranian or Central Asian manuscripts. Besides the distinctive palette described above, one finds in the paintings of Solomon and Bilqis the use of an unusual technique: small pieces of marbled paper have been pasted onto otherwise traditionally painted surfaces.49 These bits of marbled paper are used to represent a variety of objects such as the wings of the sīmurgh, the side of the vizier’s chair 189

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and the body of a peacock (Fig. 8.5). Although marbled paper was used in the arts of the book all over the medieval Persian-speaking world, it seems to have been especially common in the Deccan, and this appliqué technique may be unique to Golconda.50 Another way in which the artists who created these pages experimented with conventions familiar from manuscripts produced in Iran and Central Asia is by altering the standard placement of depictions of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. It was very common for sixteenth-century manuscripts made in Iran to include pictures of these two rulers placed side by side as a frontispiece, with Solomon on the right and Bilqis on the left.51 The paintings would typically be surrounded by identical illuminated margins. In this latter respect the Dīwān does not disappoint: both folios have typical Safavid margins of deep blue and gold.52 In terms of placement, however, the paintings

Figure 8.5  Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah, 1590–1605, folio 29v (detail). Watercolour, gold and ink on paper (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, ms. 153).


variations on a persian theme

are quite unusual. They do not appear in the front of the manuscript, nor are the two paintings adjacent to one another. What is more, they do not include one recto and one verso, but rather both are versos. Owing to the extremely common appearance of representations of Solomon and Bilqis, the recontextualization of these images would surely have surprised a sixteenth-century viewer familiar with manuscripts of Iran and Central Asia, just as it surprises art historians today. It suggests that the artists were either unaware of or uninterested in the usual function of such images as pictorial introductions to the manuscript. Like the three paintings discussed above, the remainder of the Dīwān’s paintings employ compositions, subjects and motifs familiar from contemporaneous manuscripts produced in Iran and Central Asia, both dīwāns and those containing other types of texts. By binding Muhammad-Quli’s Dakani poems within a codex that meets all of the basic requirements of a Persian dīwān, the manuscript makes a statement about the status of the text, claiming for it the prestige associated with Persian dīwāns. This may explain why the text is so much more innovative than the paintings: if the paintings had introduced the kinds of alterations and additions to Persian tradition with which the Dakani text is filled, they would have lost their ability to serve as signifiers of the high stature of Persian culture. There is another level of complexity in Muhammad-Quli’s Dīwān, however, for not all of the paintings adapt compositions familiar from Persian painting as literally as the three already discussed. While the painting of the polo match and that depicting Solomon and Bilqis enthroned overlay standard Persianate compositions with unusual colours and painting techniques, others employ different techniques. In one example the artists took a generic scene and broke it into a series of compartments, while in another they compressed the action of an iconic scene into a tightly framed composition, and in a third they incorporated motifs associated with Mughal painting into a Persianate setting. The appearance of such varied treatments of subjects familiar from manuscripts from Iran and Central Asia within a single manuscript suggests a rich artistic landscape that encouraged innovation and experimentation. It may also indicate that multiple artists with different backgrounds were working together on the manuscript. It would be problematic, however, to suggest that the paintings amount to a pictorial parallel to the innovations of the Dakani text, for the paintings do not share the consistency of the textual innovations. Examining the remaining paintings will help us to understand how and why they are so varied. It takes considerable attention to see that the second painting in the Dīwān on folio 12r depicts a generic scene of courtly life that is quite familiar from Iranian and 191

The Visual World of Muslim India

Central Asian manuscripts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Fig. 8.6). In fact, virtually every element of folio 12r has a direct analogue in paintings like one from the Khamsa of Nizami produced for Shah Tahmasp in Tabriz c. 1540 (Fig. 8.7).53 In both paintings an enthroned ruler wearing a Tāj-i Ḥaydarī sits in an īwān on the right side of the composition, looking out onto a courtyard with a fountain. On the left side of both paintings there is a palace topped by an open balcony under an ornamented

Figure 8.6  Dīwān of MuhammadQuli Qutb Shah, 1590–1605, folio 12r. Watercolour, gold and ink on paper (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, ms. 153).


variations on a persian theme

awning. The two buildings are linked, in one case by a path with red railings and in the other by a short flight of stairs. A tree, suggestive of a garden behind the palace, peeks out from between and behind the two buildings. Although only a few elements in the Dīwān painting do not also appear in the Safavid one (most significant are the inclusion of a figure reclining before the fountain, the dedication to blue and orange, and the use of appliquéd marbled paper), their

Figure 8.7  Khusraw Listening to Barbad Playing the Flute, Khamsa of Nizami, c. 1539–43, folio 77v. Watercolour, gold and ink on paper (British Library, Or. 2265).


The Visual World of Muslim India

Figure 8.8  Dīwān of MuhammadQuli Qutb Shah, 1590–1605, folio 24v. Watercolour, gold and ink on paper (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, ms. 153).

similarity is nevertheless not obvious at first glance. This is due to the dramatic suppression of depth in the Golconda painting and its division into compartments.54 The painting has no horizon on the right side and few overlapping forms or diagonal lines. There is nothing to indicate the difference between the floor and the back wall. The composition is further flattened by the inclusion of a floral pattern that causes trees to meld into buildings and buildings into carpets. Finally, a vertical white line divides the painting into two unequal portions that do not easily read as contiguous space. The next painting (folio 24v, Fig. 8.8) presents a different aesthetic. Its subject is neither generic like the polo match of 5r or courtly scene of 12r, nor is it a specific and recognizable image like the paintings of Solomon and Bilqis. It does not include marbled paper and its figures are not dressed in blue and orange robes, although these colours appear elsewhere in the painting. Mark Zebrowski referred to it as 194

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‘Lady Dozing in a Garden’55 while Karl Khandalavala suggested that it might represent a European mistress of Muhammad-Quli.56 The verse running across the top of the painting offers no help in pinpointing the subject matter.57 In the painting’s lower two thirds a bejewelled lady lies on a carpet within a low garden enclosure, surrounded by attendants who appear to be sleepy if not actually asleep. Across the top of the page runs a band of architectural forms suggestive of a nearby palace, through which breaks a fantastic blue-grey cloud. The red stone of the architecture and the treatment of the blanket covering the lady point to Mughal painting as a possible source of inspiration. Mughal painting does in fact yield closely related images. A painting from a dispersed Mughal Yūsuf wa Zulaykhā of c. 1635–40, for example, depicts Zulaykha slumbering, surrounded by sleepy handmaidens.58 Their bodies mark out a circular space roughly analogous to the enclosure on folio 24v. Other aspects of the Dīwān painting suggest different pictorial sources. For example, the enclosure itself appears with relative frequency in Persian paintings of various subjects, such as a painting of Nushaba recognizing Iskandar from the early fifteenth-century “Cartier” Khamsa.59 Here the garden enclosure is almost identical to that seen in the Dīwān folio. Nothing in Mughal or Persian painting has anything comparable to the extraordinary cloud, however, which billows forward as though a great gust of wind is about to sweep across the page. This motif might be rooted in a conflation of Shirazi clouds with the wind-blown red curtains often seen in Mughal paintings. In this instance, it seems to be an expressive device, conveying some kind of powerful emotion, though exactly what is hard to say. The sixth painting in the manuscript (folio 87v) has received relatively little attention because it is badly damaged.60 Despite the damage it is possible to see that it depicts a group of male figures in a landscape dominated by a rocky outcropping and a grove of now almost completely lost trees, behind which rises a dense city. Fortunately, pieces of marbled paper forming stones in the foreground and parts of the city walls in the background have survived. The preference for blue and orange in the clothing of the figures is in evidence as well. In an important article on the development of painting in Golconda, Jeremiah P. Losty noted the compositional resemblance of this painting to that of Haftwād and the Worm (c. 1535; at one time in Tahmasp’s Shāhnāma). He also pointed out that a later Mughal version of the same painting appears in a Jahangiri album.61 This suggests copies of it might possibly have been available in Golconda. The overall composition of folio 87v is no doubt related to Haftwād and the Worm, which itself draws on earlier Timurid paintings.62 The city, for example, appears to have been ‘constructed’ out of elements from these Persian paintings. Like them it contains one square and one hexagonal building tightly enclosed within a high wall interrupted 195

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regularly by bastions. The torsos of several figures emerge like giants into the space above the rooftops. What distinguishes the Dīwān’s painting from earlier paintings that employ these compositional elements is the way that it has been condensed and reduced, leaving little of the vast landscape around the city intact and increasing the scale of the figures to a size greater than the scale of figures in the Persian paintings or other paintings of the Dīwān. Two paintings remain to be discussed. Zebrowski suggested in 1983 that all of the above paintings were made by an Indian artist he dubbed the ‘Hyderabad Painter,’ while the remaining two (folios 93r and 97v) were done by a less talented artist, perhaps from Bukhara.63 It is also possible that this middling artist was born in India but trained by someone from Bukhara. In comparison with the others, these two paintings are indeed simplified and stiff. They do not employ the distinctive palette that appears in most of the other paintings and are proportioned differently, being both taller and more narrow. As the manuscript is unfinished, it is quite possible that some time after the initial production another attempt was made to complete the codex. At that time the artist of these final two paintings may have been assigned the task of executing the remainder of the manuscript’s pictorial program. The subjects of these two paintings are uncertain, and they may have been intended as generic scenes of kingship of a type which was produced frequently in sixteenth-century Bukhara.64 Folio 93r depicts a ruler and his consort being entertained by musicians and dancers (Fig. 8.9). This is one of the most popular subjects of Persian painting in general, and neither the iconography nor the composition in this case appear particularly unusual. The royal couple sits inside an īwān Figure 8.9  Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb that occupies the entire width of the miniaShah, 1590–1605, folio 93r. Watercolour, ture and has been decorated with bands of gold and ink on paper (Salar Jung Museum, green and blue and medallions of gold. The Hyderabad, ms. 153). 196

variations on a persian theme

only distinctive aspect of the painting is that the couple is situated off-centre within the īwān so that while the king, robed in bold red, sits squarely on the vertical axis of the painting, his companion is relegated to a lateral position. Among the performers who stand at the bottom of the scene are two figures holding frame drums made out of marbled paper. The marbled paper incorporates white and peach pigment rather than the darker colours that appeared in the appliquéd paper of the paintings discussed above, a difference that supports the notion that this painting was created during a second phase of production. A line of Muhammad-Quli’s poetry inscribed along the top of the painting can be translated as: ‘God has given to Qutb Shah a lovely lady to be loved due to his prayers and his being the slave of God.’65 This might indicate that the painting was intended as a Figure 8.10  Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah, 1590–1605, folio 97v. Watercolour, gold and ink on depiction of the Qutb Shahi ruler and paper (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, ms. 153). his lady; but, given the loose manner in which text and adjoining paintings are related in the manuscript, this cannot be confirmed. The last painting, on folio 97v, depicts a night-scene of a ruler enthroned before a fountain in a mountainous garden (Fig. 8.10). Angels peer out from behind his throne and attendants stand off to each side holding his swords, bow and quiver. Beside the throne two seated men advise the king, while another four in the foreground seem to be engaged in learned conversation.66 The clothing of the figures is not limited to shades of blue and orange, and there is no marbled paper on the page. The turbans of the figures are in a completely different style than those of the paintings described above, further reinforcing the sense of disjunction between these last paintings and those that appear before them.67 197

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Conclusions As previous scholars have noted, the eight paintings in the Dīwān of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah include features that are familiar from Persian paintings of various regions. Some of the paintings are virtually copies of Persian paintings while others seem to reinvent or recontextualize selected Persianate motifs, but all clearly convey their membership within the Persian cultural sphere. While they are not direct copies of Persian paintings, in comparison to the Dīwān’s pioneering text, the paintings appear tame in their interventions into Persian pictorial tradition. Whereas Muhammad-Quli’s poems incorporate new subjects, vocabulary and syntax to produce a profoundly local text, the paintings do not attempt to alter equally fundamental aspects of Persian painting. This discontinuity between the paintings and text allows the paintings to serve a crucial function within the manuscript. The eight scenes of royal dalliances and figures from Persian literature that are sprinkled throughout the manuscript situate the text within a pictorial framework suggestive of a well-established and highly respected genre: the illustrated Persian dīwān. In doing so, they extend the aura of quality and credibility that surrounds classical Persian literature to works in Dakani, a new literary language. Thus the manuscript as a whole serves a remarkable function: the deployment of translocal Persianate cultural forms in support of a regional tradition. To the extent that the paintings do introduce new elements to conventional Persianate compositions, they employ two types of pictorial interventions. The first type includes subtle pictorial elements (such as palette, marbled paper, a particular treatment of mountainous landscapes) that appear in multiple paintings and give the manuscript increased cohesiveness. Since there is limited evidence that this aesthetic continuity was carried over into other Golconda manuscripts, it should not be labelled a ‘local style.’ It is important to note, however, that these aspects give the Dīwān a measure of visual unity. The second type of intervention includes more dramatic visual experiments such as the spatial suppression of folio 12r, the incorporation of Mughal motifs in 24v, and the altered placement of folios 29v and 53v. Most of these do not appear in more than one of the eight paintings and as a result they reduce the cohesiveness of the manuscript. The appearance of this latter type of pictorial innovation within a manuscript that self-consciously poses as a Persian dīwān suggests that in Golconda, despite the large population of Iranian immigrants and their descendants, conceptions of ‘Persian-ness’ were not automatic or fixed. Persian painting styles were not and could not have been transmitted unchanged from Iran to India. On the contrary, notions of ‘Persian-ness’ 198

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were constructed via intermediaries in the form of objects, words and pictures. From the great variety of treatments of Persianate compositions that appear in the Dīwān, we can deduce that the artists of the Dīwān, though clearly aware of iconic Persianate compositions, motifs and subjects, had not at the time of the manuscript’s production arrived at a consensus as to what a Persian painting ought to look like. Rather, at the turn of the seventeenth century they seem still to have been actively exploring Persian culture from Golconda’s unique vantage point and constructing it anew for their own purposes.

Notes 1 Salar Jung Museum, Poetry Ms 153. Nasiruddin Hashimi, Kutub Khāna-i Nawāb Sālār-i Jang Marhūm kī Urdu Qalmī Kitāboñ kī Wazāhatī Fihrist (Hyderabad, 1957), no. 375; Karl J. Khandalavala and Rahmat Ali Khan, Gulshan-e-Muṣawwari: Seven Illustrated Manuscripts from the Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad (Hyderabad, 1986), 40–47. 2 Stuart Cary Welch et al., ‘Portfolio,’ Marg 16/2 (1963), 10; Robert Skelton, ‘Early Golconda Painting,’ in Indologen-Tagung 1971: Verhandlungen der Indologischen Arbeitstagung im Museum für Indische Kunst Berlin, 7–9 Okt. 1971, ed. Herbert Härtel and Volker Moeller (Wiesbaden, 1973), 189; Mark Zebrowski, Deccani Painting (London/Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1983), 159–69; Jeremiah P. Losty, ‘The Development of the Golconda Style,’ in Indian Art & Connoisseurship: Essays in Honour of Douglas Barrett, ed. John Guy (Ahmedabad/New Delhi 1995), 54. 3 Recent and useful publications include Carla Petievich, When Men Speak as Women: Vocal Masquerade in Indo-Muslim Poetry (Oxford, 2007); and Ali Akbar Husain, Scent in the Islamic Garden: A Study of Deccani Urdu Literary Sources (Karachi, 2000). 4 The term ‘Persian’ is used in this paper to refer not only to the language of the same name, but also to the culture of Iran and Central Asia during the Timurid and Safavid periods. The term ‘Persianate’ is used to refer to specific characteristics, forms or practices of that culture which appear within or outside of the said regions. 5 The locations of and details about the other seven manuscripts can be found in Muhiuddin Qadri Zore, Kulliyāt-i Muḥammad-Qūlī Quṭb Shāh (Hyderabad, 1940), 330–52. 6 The text box is 183x90 mm. 7 Sultan Abdullah Qutb Shah’s Dīwān, which is also in Dakani, is not dated. It begins on folio 105r and is inscribed on lighter-coloured paper in a different-size text box (170x104 mm). Abdullah Qutb Shah ruled from 1626 to 1672 and it is possible that he had his Dīwān bound together with MuhammadQuli’s during his reign. It is interesting to note that the intervening ruler, Muhammad Qutb Shah, wrote a dīwān in Persian (Salar Jung Museum, A/Nm 639).


The Visual World of Muslim India 8 Colour reproductions of all eight paintings can be found in M.A. Nayeem, The Heritage of the Qutb Shahis of Golconda and Hyderabad (Hyderabad, 2006), 251–53. The illuminated frontispiece (folio 2v–3r) is reproduced in Zebrowski, Deccani Painting, fig. 121. 9 The folios with marginal decoration include 3v, 4r, 5r, 5v, 12r, 12v, 24v, 29v, 53v. Floral and vegetal patterns adorn most of the margins. In certain cases (folios 5r, 5v and 29v) there are also heads of imaginary creatures among the flowers and vines. 10 ‫ دیوان اعلیحرضت سلیامنی خلد اهلل ملکه‬Thanks to Yael Rice for assistance with this translation. 11 This argument is put forth by Hashimi, Kutub Khāna-i Nawāb, 376. 12 Dublin, The Chester Beatty Library, Per. 225. More information on Zainuddin Ali, some of it speculative, can be found in David James, ‘The “Millennial” Album of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah,’ Islamic Art 2 (1987), 245. 13 Translation from Khandalavala & Khan, Gulshan-e-Muṣawwari, 40. A reproduction of the inscription can be found in Satya Prakash, ‘The Kulliyāt-i-Sulṭān Muḥammad-Qulī Quṭb Shāh: An Outstanding Piece of Deccani Art and Literature,’ SJM Research Journal 6&7 (1974–75), fig. 18. ‫وی دمحم قلی قطب… ثانی بچهار لوح و رسلوح‬

‫با تصویر خبط موالنا زین الدین علی خوش‬ ‫نویس حضور‬ ‫بزبان دکنی‬

14 My thanks to Dr. Ghazzal Dabiri of Columbia University for her assistance with this translation. A complete transcription is below. ‫بکاتبه شاها سپرد مبن تو بردار تو باد‬ ‫زینت ده لوح قمل اشعار تو باد‬

‫اینست دعای ما که در هر دو جهان‬

‫اهلل دمحم و علی یار تو باد‬

‫کمرتین بندگان حمرومرتین حمرومان قامس علی املذهب‬ 15 Sadiq Naqvi, The Iranian Afaquies Contribution to the Qutb Shahi and Adil Shahi Kingdoms (Hyderabad, 2003), 213, refers to him as the illustrator, but I see no firm evidence for this.

16 Since the manuscript has been rebound, possibly several times, it is quite likely that a page with a colophon was once included but is now lost. 17 Other scholars have come to roughly the same conclusions about the dating of the Dīwān: Hashimi offered c. 1610, Skelton 1600, Khandalavala c. 1595 and Mittal c. 1590. 18 Folio 3v of the Qutb Shahi album in the Chester Beatty Library (see note 12, above) is dated 1584,


variations on a persian theme Golconda, and as such it hints at pre-1590 sponsorship of the arts of the book, perhaps by the Qutb Shahi rulers. 19 For discussions of these monuments with information on their epigraphic inscriptions, see Syed Ali Asgar Bilgrami, Landmarks of the Deccan: A Comprehensive Guide to the Archaeological Remains of the City and Suburbs of Hyderabad (Delhi, 1984). 20 Zore, Kulliyāt-i Muḥammad-Qūlī, 120. 21 The best source for the history of this period is undoubtedly H.K. Sherwani, History of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty (New Delhi, 1974). 22 Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘Iranians Abroad: Intra-Asian Elite Migration and Early Modern State Formation,’ The Journal of Asian Studies 51/2 (1992), 340–63. 23 This correspondence is documented in Riazul Islam, A Calendar of Documents on Indo-Persian Relations (Tehran/Karachi, 1979). 24 Among the more useful of these publications are Muhiuddin Qadri Zore, Mīr Muḥammad Mu’mīn: Ya‘nī Peshwā-i Salṭanat-i Quṭb Shāhī (2nd ed., Hyderabad, 1958); Sherwani, History of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty; Subrahmanyam, ‘Iranians Abroad’; Naqvi, The Iranian Afaquies Contribution. 25 H.K. Sherwani, ‘Cultural Synthesis in Medieval India,’ Journal of Indian History 41 (1963), 239–59. 26 Phillip B. Wagoner, ‘In Amīn Khān’s Garden: Charitable Gardens in Qutb Shāhi Andhra,’ in Garden and Landscape Practices in Precolonial India: Histories from the Deccan, ed. Daud Ali and Emma J. Flatt (New Delhi, 2012), 98–126; id., ‘The Charminar as Chaubara: Cosmological Symbolism in the Urban Architecture of the Deccan,’ in Architecture of the Sultanates in South Asia, ed. Abha Narian Lambah and Alka Patel (Mumbai, 2006), 104–13. 27 Wagoner, ‘In Amin Khan’s Garden,’ 106. 28 Brief introductions to Dakani can be found in T.N. Devare, A Short History of Persian Literature at the Bahmani, the Adilshahi, and the Qutbshahi Courts, Deccan (Pune, 1961), ch. 7; and Ram Babu Saksena, A History of Urdu Literature (New Delhi, 2002), 32–44. 29 Petievich, When Men Speak as Women, 133; Haroon K. Sherwani, Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah, Founder of Haidarabad (London, 1967), 51. 30 Muhammad-Quli’s literary career is discussed in a number of sources, including Saksena, Urdu Literature, 36. 31 Sumit Guha, ‘Transitions and Translations: Regional Power and Vernacular Identity in the Dakhan, 1500–1800,’ Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 24/2 (2004), 23–31. 32 Muhammad-Quli used several different pen-names in his dīwān, including Ma‘ani, Qutb Shah and Qutb. 33 Petievich, When Men Speak as Women, 6, 8, translates virahiṇī as ‘she who dwells in separation.’ 34 Ibid., 162–63. 35 The pun on his own name (meaning ‘axis’) demonstrates Muhammad-Quli’s poetic skill. Sherwani, Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah, 48.


The Visual World of Muslim India 36 Petievich, When Men Speak as Women, 133. 37 Husain, Scent in the Islamic Garden, 41. 38 The only substantial article on the topic of which I am aware is Priscilla Soucek, ‘Interpreting the Ghazals of Hafiz,’ RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics 43 (Spring 2003), 146–63. Soucek demonstrates how copies of Hafiz’s dīwān tend to contain less formulaic imagery, and thus that their illustrations bear remarkably close relationships to the verses they accompany. 39 One copy dated 1406 is in the Türk ve Islam Eserleri Müzesi, Istanbul (2046) and another dated to circa 1405 is now in the Freer Gallery of Art (32.30–37). The former manuscript is discussed in Thomas W. Lentz and Glenn D. Lowry, Timur and the Princely Vision: Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century (Washington, DC/Los Angeles, CA, 1989), cat. no. 15. For the Freer manuscript, see Esin Atil, The Brush of the Masters, Drawings from Iran and India (Washington, DC, 1978), 14–17, nos. 1–7. 40 Lentz and Lowry, Timur and the Princely Vision, 56–58. A rather different interpretation of these marginal drawings as depictions of the seven stages of the Sufi mystical journey can be found in Deborah Klimburg-Salter, ‘A Sufi Theme in Persian Painting: The Dīwān of Sultan Ahmad Ğala’ir in the Free [sic] Gallery of Arts, Washington DC,’ Kunst des Orients 11 (1976/77), 65. 41 Manchester, The John Rylands University Library, Pers 945. B.W. Robinson, Persian Paintings in the John Rylands Library: A Descriptive Catalogue (London, 1980), 652–55. 42 Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, S1986.60. Glenn D. Lowry and Milo C. Beach, An Annotated and Illustrated Checklist of the Vever Collection (Washington, DC/Seattle, WA, 1988), no. 168. 43 Wheeler M. Thackston, ‘The Diwan of Khata’i: Pictures for the Poetry of Shah Isma‘il I,’ Asian Art 1/4 (1988), 37–63. 44 A painting of this subject can be found in the Mughal Dārābnāma produced around 1580 (London, British Library, Or. 4615). See Bonnie C. Wade, Imaging Sound: An Ethnomusicological Study of Music, Art, and Culture in Mughal India (Chicago, 1998), 298, fig. 22:16. A polo match between an all-male and all-female team is also depicted in a Mughal copy of the Khamsa of Nizami which can be dated to 1590–1600. The painting, which depicts Shirin and Khusraw, is reproduced in Sotheby’s, Arts of the Islamic World (London, 14 April, 2010), lot 83. 45 Depictions of polo games appear with such frequency in these dīwāns that one wonders if they might have a spiritual subtext concerning the soul and its quest for unity with the beloved, a question that clearly deserves further study. Correspondence with Laura E. Parodi, March 2010. 46 Losty, ‘Development of the Golconda Style,’ 304. 47 What looks like a major departure from the standard iconography, the substitution of a male prince for Bilqis, appears on close examination to have been a later addition to the painting. A crown of gold and purple is slightly visible underneath the flaking paint of the turban. The reason for this change may have to do with the separation of the image of Bilqis from that of her consort, which obscured her identity. 48 It is interesting that by the date of the Dīwān’s production this type of headwear was no longer commonly used in Iran. This anachronistic headgear was noted by Jeremiah P. Losty, The Art of


variations on a persian theme the Book in India (London, 1982), 54. On the Tāj-i Ḥaydarī, see A. Shapur Shahbazi, ‘Crown – of Persian rulers from the Islamic conquest to the Qajar period,’ in Encyclopedia Iranica (Costa Mesa, CA, 1993), vol. 6, 421–25. 49 Although Karl Khandalavala asserted that the technique of paper-marbling was not used in this manuscript, recent examination suggests otherwise. See Khandalavala and Ali Khan, Gulshan-eMuṣawwari, 43. 50 One finds pasted paper wheels attached to otherwise conventional paintings of chariots in seventeenthcentury paintings possibly from Tirupati. An example is illustrated in George Michell, Architecture and Art of Southern India: Vijayanagara and the Successor States, 1350–1750 (Cambridge/New York, 1995), fig. 193. I know of no other instances, however, in which marbled paper is applied to paintings. 51 Serpil Bağcı, ‘A New Theme of the Shirazi Frontispiece Miniatures: The Divan of Solomon,’ Muqarnas 12 (1995), 101–11, esp. 101. 52 There is one notable idiosyncrasy. The margin around Bilqis contains tiny faces instead of the flowers that appear in the margin around Solomon. More of these faces can be found embedded in her throne. These small faces evoke the waqwaq tree, a magical tree that appears in geographical, zoological and fictional works of medieval Persian literature. 53 The subject of the painting is Khusraw listening to Barbad playing the lute: compare with Sheila R. Canby, The Golden Age of Persian Art, 1501–1722 (London, 1999), fig. 36. 54 Losty, ‘The Development of the Golconda Style,’ 303. 55 Zebrowski, Deccani Painting, 160. 56 Khandalavala and Ali Khan, Gulshan-e-Muṣawwari, 46. 57 This verse is difficult to translate. The first half seems to say: ‘Ma‘ni speaks (said/repeated) to me only Muhammad’s name.’ The second half is less clear. Thanks to Carla Petievich for her assistance. The full line reads: ‫آو خوش یانا و خوش ہے ناون میرا آفتاب‬

‫جم دمحم نام ھی معنی سون بولیا راستی‬

58 By Muhammad Nadir Samarqandi. Sotheby’s, Islamic and Indian Art (London, 16 October 1996), lot 82. 59 Arthur U. Pope et al., A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present (London/New York, 1938), vol. 9, pl. 855 and vol. 5, 1846. 60 Reproduced in Nayeem, Heritage of the Qutb Shahis, 253, fig. 3h. 61 Losty, ‘Golconda Style,’ 303. 62 Such as Iskandar Visiting the Hermit, from a 900 H/1494–95 CE Khamsa of Nizami, fol. 273r. Illus. in Lentz and Lowry, Timur and the Princely Vision, 250, no. 140. Iskandar Visiting the Hermit appears to have been the inspiration for a number of later compositions, including a mid-fifteenthcentury Mughal painting commemorating the circumcision of Akbar. See Laura E. Parodi and Bruce Wannell, ‘The Earliest Datable Mughal Painting: An Allegory of the Celebrations for Akbar’s Circumcision at the Sacred Spring of Khwaja Seh Yaran near Kabul (1546 AD),’ Asian


The Visual World of Muslim India Art (November 2011), esp. fig. 8 and the related discussion: parodi/index.html. 63 Zebrowski, Deccani Painting, 160. 64 For comparable manuscripts from Bukhara see Robinson, John Rylands Library, nos. 673–676; and Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani, ‘The Anthology of a Sufi Prince from Bokhara,’ in Persian Painting: From the Mongols to the Qajars: Studies in Honour of Basil W. Robinson, ed. R. Hillenbrand (London, 2000), 151–86. 65 Khandalavala and Ali Khan, Gulshan-e-Muṣawwari, 44. 66 Karl Khandalavala has suggested that this scene may represent a mystical gathering or samā‘. Khandalavala and Khan, Gulshan-e-Muṣawwari, 45. 67 Several of the figures appear to have eyes that very slightly protrude from their faces. Losty has suggested that this is related to the ‘protruding eye’ known from figures shown in profile in early Jain manuscripts. I believe, however, that it is closer to the treatment of the eye found in figures shown in a three-quarter view in Persian and Deccani paintings. For an example from Persian painting see Abolala Soudavar and Milo Cleveland Beach, Art of the Persian Courts: Selections from the Art and History Trust Collection (New York, 1992), 10, no. 62. A Deccani example can be found in Zebrowski, Deccani Painting, pl. II.


9 A D u tch A rtist in Bi ja pu r —Deborah Hutton & Rebecca Tucker—


n 1610, after a rather extraordinary journey, a Dutch Mannerist painter named Cornelius Claesz. Heda arrived at the court of Ibrahim Adil Shah II (r. 1580–1627) of Bijapur. In a letter to the Dutch East India Company (Vereinigde Oost-Indische Compagnie; hence: VOC), the artist recounts the story of his welcome by the Deccani ruler. According to Heda, during their first audience, Ibrahim told the Dutch artist that ‘I have long wished for a painter from your land’ and then commanded him to ‘make something.’ Fifteen days later Heda presented Ibrahim with a three-by-two-foot painting depicting Venus, Bacchus and Cupid. This image of classical gods and goddesses delighted the ruler. Heda details Ibrahim’s reaction with a certain pride: he writes that the king, or ‘Coninck’ as Heda refers to Ibrahim, ‘held the painting before his face for two hours,’ all the while talking with Heda and promising him great riches for his services. Once Heda swore himself to Ibrahim’s service, the Bijapuri ruler gave him a purse with 500 pagodas (gold coins), a princely sum. Ibrahim also immediately ordered the painter to make another work.1 Unfortunately neither the Venus, Bacchus and Cupid painting nor any other work produced by Heda seems to have survived. Moreover, although Heda remained in Ibrahim’s service until the painter’s death in 1622, only a few scant examples of European-inspired Bijapuri artwork are able to be even tangentially linked to the possible influence of Heda. These absences, combined with a lack of any discussion of Heda in Adil Shahi historical texts, might suggest on the surface that Heda had minimal impact on Bijapuri culture and courtly life. But a closer look at the surviving European-inspired paintings from Bijapur, coupled with a synthetic analysis of the artist’s travels and activities at court (one that takes into account the larger cultural and historical framework of the period), points to the Dutch artist’s significance within Bijapuri culture. It also underscores the useful role that Heda’s story can play in our 205

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current efforts to reconstruct the relationship between the visual arts, courtly culture and politics in Adil Shahi Bijapur. This essay explores Heda’s experiences on the way to and once at Bijapur. We argue that his story goes beyond the stereotypical tale of the European traveller’s discovery of the ‘exotic East,’ in which the arrival of Western modes signals cultural dominance, to show the reciprocal nature of such early modern encounters, as well as the strong links between art, trade and statecraft at the time. Recent studies on Deccani art, including many of the essays in this volume, have demonstrated the interconnectedness of artistic production, court culture and politics in the various Indo-Islamic polities of the region. This essay also argues for such interconnectedness, while specifying one particular avenue, one that links Ibrahim Adil Shah II’s patronage practices to larger trends in the early modern Persianate world. Our essay begins by detailing Heda’s circuitous travels that took him from Haarlem to Bijapur by way of Prague and several other locations. These travels establish several comparative venues in which to set Heda’s activities, including his successes and failures. Next, using information gleaned from surviving letters written by or about Heda to the VOC, now housed in The Hague, we examine his twelve years in Bijapur, from 1610 until 1622.2 We also explore the socio-economic and artistic environment into which Heda stepped. We ask how he participated in the world of Adil Shahi Bijapur, and what evidence there is for his contribution to that world. In our final section, we examine several surviving Deccani paintings datable to the early seventeenth century that feature European elements in order to investigate how Heda’s presence in Bijapur registered in the visual culture of the time. Ultimately, this essay posits that Heda functioned in Adil Shahi Bijapur in a variety of significant roles, but foremost amongst which was not that of a master artist. Rather, as a producer of valued goods, an exotic commodity, a status symbol, a merchant and a diplomatic conduit, Heda performed as a sign of, and aid to, the highly distinctive and prosperous Bijapuri culture fostered during the reign of Ibrahim Adil Shah II.

Heda’s travels to Bijapur For historians, in many respects, Heda’s journey appears as an armchair traveller’s dream. Born in 1566 in Haarlem, Cornelius Claesz. Heda trained with a well-known Dutch painter named Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem (1562–1638).3 From his master he would have learned the Dutch Mannerist style, a sophisticated style popular with elite patrons. Practitioners of the style used mythological and religious subjects, complex compositions and elongated, fleshy figures often in contorted and exaggerated 206

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Figure 9.1  Hans van Aachen, Venus, Cupid, and Bacchus, c. 1600 (Kunst­ historisches Museum, Vienna. Inv.-Nr. GG_1098).

poses to convey a sense of heightened emotion.4 Classical and literary subjects were popular, especially those that triggered tragic, dramatic or sensual emotions. The theme of Venus, Bacchus and Cupid was a common trope in Mannerist circles; a good example of both the hallmark style and complex content of Mannerism is the c. 1600 work by Hans van Aachen (1552–1615), a court painter in Prague (Fig. 9.1). We presume that the painting Heda presented to Ibrahim Adil Shah II, of the same subject, 207

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was also similar in content and style, though undoubtedly the details of execution differed. It perhaps goes without saying that such works sharply contrast with the style and subject matter of most Bijapuri paintings from the same period. Heda’s painting would have been a novelty for the Deccani courtly audience. Most likely Heda left Haarlem sometime around 1600. The question of why he left is somewhat puzzling, as Mannerist artists were the most celebrated painters in the Netherlands at the time.5 Economic history, however, provides a clue to the pressures on an artist like Heda, who made expensive works for the ‘quality market’: high-paying individual patrons who often commissioned works of art directly from the artist. The late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries were a boom time for Haarlem, which enjoyed a flourishing economy and fast-growing population that more than doubled between the 1570s and 1620s. It also was a time of tremendous change in the art market, which shifted by 1600 into an ‘open’ market system.6 Records show that at least 225 full-fledged painters arrived in Holland between 1580 and 1595; the overall number of painters in Holland quadrupled by 1620.7 Artists began producing less expensive works for general consumption, often by anonymous upper-middle-class buyers. These new buyers preferred small works, such as still lifes, to the larger and more dramatic Mannerist works. In other words, just as Heda was faced with more competition, his style of painting began to fall out of fashion. Instead of taking his chances in the competition of Holland’s open market, Heda left for Prague in search of steady and prestigious employment at a royal court. Prague, the capital of the Holy Roman Empire, was the seat of Emperor Rudolph II Habsburg (r. 1576–1612), widely acknowledged at the time as the greatest art patron in Europe. Under Rudolph, Prague became a vibrant centre for learning and the arts. Rudolph’s ravenous taste for art and rarities of the world, many of which were kept in his famous Kunstkammer (art cabinet), was well known, as were the enormous sums of money he devoted to gathering his treasures.8 For Rudolph, art was not only a personal passion; it also symbolized his status as the Holy Roman Emperor. He made a point of employing painters from all over Europe, and he had a particular taste for Northern Mannerist art. Thus artists such as Bartholomeus Spranger (1546–1611), a contemporary of Heda’s from Flanders, did extremely well at his court, receiving a salary, help with rent, exemption from guild rules and enhanced social position.9 However, Heda’s gamble does not seem to have paid off; so far, scholarship on Rudolphine Prague has unearthed no record of Heda, suggesting that he did not achieve the success for which he had been hoping. Heda’s failure to make a mark in Prague, on top of his inability to compete in Haarlem, suggests that he was not a 208

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particularly good painter. But it is also worth considering the economics of the art market in Prague. Though painters there benefited from the court system and the presence of an active, wealthy and devoted patron, they also experienced significant competition from the mass of painters, goldsmiths and sculptors (many of whom were Dutch) clamouring for notice. Guild officials complained regularly about the numbers of court artists, and the unfair privileges they were given, to the detriment of other artists.10 It seems that Heda, whatever his skills may have been as an artist, could not compete in such an environment. Thus, when an Iranian delegation, which had arrived at Rudolph’s court in July 1604, extended an offer to Heda to return with them to Isfahan in order to work as a court painter for the Safavid ruler Shah Abbas (r. 1587–1629), Heda accepted. The Safavid envoy was part of a concentrated series of embassies sent between Iran and various European powers between 1598 and 1608 in hope of forming an alliance against their mutual enemy, the Ottoman Empire. A second objective of the Iranians was to make trade contacts that would promote the sale of Safavid silk. Another tangential – but significant – purpose of these ambassadorial trips was to acquire exotic goods to bring back to the shah.11 In this context, the acquisition of a Dutch artist like Heda would have appealed in two regards: firstly, as a tool for building further political and economic alliances with Europe and secondly, as an entity that would have added to Abbas’s prestige. For Heda, Safavid Iran must have held great potential. If nothing else, there he was assured of being free of competition from other Mannerist painters: Iran was, at that point, virgin territory for European artists. And Shah Abbas’s wealth was, to European eyes, vast beyond comprehension. The luxuriousness of the silk robes worn by the Iranian ambassadors caused quite a stir at Rudolph’s court, and this material display illustrated in a compelling way the riches that Iran could offer.12 Accounts, both verbal and written, of Europeans travellers to Iran seconded such notions of it as a place of tremendous wealth and opportunity. Heda left Prague with the Iranian delegation at the beginning of November 1605. The group’s original intent seems to have been to travel to Iran via Russia, but the group was delayed because of political upheaval after the death of the Tsar Boris Godunov on 23 April 1605. The delegation travelled north to Sweden, before eventually taking a ship back to Germany. That ship, however, got caught in a fierce storm and landed in Holland instead. From there they travelled overland to the courts of various dignitaries in the hopes of securing a way to Iran. Eventually, King Philip II of Spain sent them to Lisbon in order to sail with the new Portuguese viceroy to India, who was leading a caravan of ships to Goa. The plan was that the ambassadorial group would disembark at Hormuz, while the ships continued on to Goa. Unfortunately, once again, things 209

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did not exactly go according to plan. The ships encountered a storm and were forced to winter on the east coast of Africa. While there, the Viceroy came to suspect Heda of being a spy for the Dutch. Heda protested, but to no avail. He was forcibly taken all the way to Goa, where he was imprisoned by Portuguese authorities.13 Luckily, once at Goa, a wealthy Augsburger businessman named Ferdinand Cron intervened on Heda’s behalf. Cron, who had gained his status in part by maintaining close contact with northern Europe, was often able to provide the Portuguese with the latest details of Dutch plans and fleet manoeuvres.14 Thus, when Cron assured the authorities that Heda was not a Dutch spy, not only was the artist released from jail but he was also given employment working as a painter for the Viceroy (the very same man who had imprisoned him!).15 Though Goa was a well-established, busy port city, with few other European artists, working under Portuguese rule meant potential administrative and political difficulties for a Dutchman. Since they could be legally expelled at any time from Portuguese lands, other Europeans in Goa operated in perpetual fear of being imprisoned or exiled, and their businesses destroyed.16 Heda writes that he witnessed three acquaintances put through ‘firm questioning’ by the authorities. Having already been imprisoned once, Heda was probably wary, and so after two months, he decided to leave. Although he did not have an invitation from Ibrahim Adil Shah II or any other royal sponsor in Bijapur, he left Goa and headed inland on the eight-day journey to the Adil Shahi kingdom in early 1610, nearly four and a half years after leaving Prague.17 Heda’s story, as detailed above, provides insight into the how and why of his journey to Bijapur as well as his success in Ibrahim’s court. Heda’s travels to Bijapur were not motivated by a desire to see the ‘exotic east,’ but rather by economic necessities coupled with a certain degree of happenstance (the vagaries of sea travel and political conflict). It is clear that Heda was a failure in the European art market; no works are known and no mention of his art exists in correspondences or documentary records. For example, Karel van Mander’s Schilder-boeck, published in 1604, was a definitive history of Dutch art, written by a friend, neighbour and colleague of Heda’s master who was closely connected in Prague circles.18 But the text does not include Heda, either among Cornelis Cornelisz’s students or as an independent painter. Heda’s repeated failures in European situations highlight the uniqueness of his eventual success in Bijapur. It is not that Ibrahim was content with second-rate goods – quite the contrary. Rather, when Heda accepted the offer to become court painter to Shah Abbas, and when he marketed himself to Ibrahim, both the context in which he operated and the reasons for his appeal as an artist changed dramatically. That is, the worth of the works he produced was no longer measured chiefly in terms of artistic quality, 210

a dutch artist in bijapur

but rather in terms of novelty. In Bijapur – and in Iran, if he had made it there – Heda was a rarity, a foreign artist producing exotic goods. As a rarity, by definition, he was beyond compare.

Heda’s time in Bijapur When Heda arrived in Bijapur he would have encountered a prosperous kingdom, one welcoming to foreigners and replete with a flourishing marketplace and sophisticated artistic environment. Moreover, while European prints and other objects circulated in Bijapur and several northern European merchants conducted trade there, Heda would have found no other European artists.19 With Ibrahim Adil Shah II proving to be a receptive and generous patron, in Bijapur, it seems, Heda finally found a place to make his mark. By the time of the Dutch artist’s arrival in 1610, Ibrahim had been ruling for three decades and had established his court as a centre for art, poetry and music. Additionally, Ibrahim’s capital region – comprised of the walled city of Bijapur and its royal citadel, the adjacent mercantile suburb of Shahpur and the newly founded city of Nauraspur just four miles to the west of Bijapur – was a thriving administrative, cultural and mercantile hub. The Adil Shahi kingdom’s location near Goa, its access to the Deccan diamond mines, and its flourishing trade in cotton ensured a continuous stream of merchants and their wares from a wide variety of locales went through Bijapur. One such travelling merchant was the Flemish jeweller, Jacques de Coutre, who was employed by Ibrahim between circa 1604–16 and who left a written account of his experiences in the Deccan (discussed in greater detail by Keelan Overton in this volume). De Coutre describes arriving at the capital with his small retinue, including an Armenian interpreter named Francisco Gonzales, and immediately being granted an audience with the ruler. While de Coutre has much to criticize about India, and indeed about Ibrahim specifically, in his memoirs he also praises Bijapur for being extremely large, well populated and fortified. He goes on to explain that Shahpur was a busy trade city and describes Ibrahim and his son as eager patrons, with the former purchasing three large emeralds from de Coutre and the latter two Arabian horses.20 The nobles and military men serving the Adil Shahs added to the diversity of the environment. They included men from North India, Iran, Central Asia and East Africa, giving the Bijapuri court a remarkable linguistic, religious and ethnic scope.21 This combination of foreign contact, eclecticism and abundant wealth resulted in a notably cosmopolitan atmosphere in Bijapur. The Mughal ambassador, Asad Beg, 211

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who visited in 1603–4, reported that the city’s markets were ‘filled with rare goods, such as are not seen or heard of in any other town.’22 These bazaars and the merchants who visited them provided the Adil Shahi elite with New World tobacco, Chinese porcelain, Spanish wine, Arabian horses and jewels from abroad, such as the emeralds prized by Ibrahim.23 European books and prints, and perhaps even paintings, made their way to Bijapur as well. As in other parts of the early modern world, in Bijapur among the elite there was a strong and growing appetite for rare and exotic goods, which Heda – in both his person and the paintings he produced – would have fed. And he found a particularly eager patron in Ibrahim Adil Shah II. History remembers Ibrahim as a lover of the arts and as open to a range of cultural and religious practices. For example, in one panegyric ode, Ibrahim’s court poet Zuhuri lists Ibrahim’s top six courtiers, and he includes among the six not only the painter Farrukh Husayn, but also a calligrapher and a poet (the poet, perhaps not surprisingly, just happened to be Zuhuri himself ).24 Paintings of Ibrahim frequently depict him with musical instruments and wearing the dried-berry beads of a Hindu ascetic.25 The Mughal ambassador Asad Beg describes Ibrahim falling into a trance while listening to music.26 Ibrahim’s syncretic religious views and love of music, poetry and learning are confirmed in the Kitāb-i Nauras, the book of songs attributed to him. The Kitāb-i Nauras begins with an invocation to the Hindu goddess of learning, Sarasvati, and follows it with praise for the Prophet Muhammad and the Sufi saint, Gesu Daraz. In another verse, Ibrahim describes himself as a Hindu god. The city of Bijapur, a musical instrument, a book and a rosary of crystal around his neck comprise his godly attributes.27 The multivalent term nauras, used in the book’s title, is key to understanding the courtly culture that Ibrahim and his nobles cultivated. Nauras has resonance in both Persian and Deccani Urdu. It translates as ‘nine flavours,’ referring to the nine rasas of Indian aesthetics, but carried other poetic meanings, such as ‘new arrival,’ as well.28 The whole court seems to have been obsessed with the word nauras, most likely because the term embodied both the cultural and religious diversity as well as the emphasis on poetry and the arts found there. At least seventeen different items were named nauras, including such diverse things as a musical note, a sweet wine of nine flavours, the royal flag and, perhaps most significantly, the new city founded by Ibrahim in 1599, Nauraspur.29 Located just west of Bijapur to which it was connected by a major roadway, the city of Nauraspur seems to have been designed as a space in which to enact this ‘culture of nauras.’ Zuhuri describes the city as Ibrahim’s ‘pleasurehouse,’ while another account of the city mentions a specific quarter designated to house musicians.30 The royal palace, the Nauras Mahal (Fig. 9.2), which was enclosed 212

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Figure 9.2  Nauraspur. Rear of Nauras Mahal, showing nine-sided enclosure, 1599.

by a nine-sided wall pierced by nine broad archways, functioned physically as the architectural centre of the city. It also acted as the symbolic centre, replete with the above-mentioned architectural allusion to the term nauras, and was the location of key court festivals and celebrations. Most likely it was here that the ‘Īd-i Nauras, a new holiday held whenever a Friday fell on the ninth day of a month, was celebrated with daylong performances by professional storytellers and musicians.31 Notably, Heda addresses his letters to the VOC specifically from Nauraspur, indicating that is where the Dutch artist resided, contrasting with de Coutre, who lodged in the mercantile suburb of Shahpur, or the Mughal ambassador Asad Beg, who stayed at the political and administrative capital of Bijapur. In other words, the political implications of Asad Beg’s trip are reflected in his primary location (he did visit Nauraspur, but seems to have stayed in Bijapur), and the business nature of de Coutre’s time is likewise mirrored in his lodging in Shahpur. Thus, the fact that Heda resided in Nauraspur suggests that his role in the kingdom was closely connected with the courtly culture embodied and enacted in that pleasure city. This ‘culture of nauras’ was not just the whimsical creation of an absolute ruler. It was a way of defining the court in a distinct yet culturally resonant way, and thus 213

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binding together the diverse and often shifting nobility and elite classes, which in the conflict-ridden Deccan was a political necessity. It also asserted Ibrahim’s status as a refined and grand ruler in rank with his Mughal, Safavid and Deccan contemporaries. The poet Zuhuri ends his panegyric poem to Ibrahim with a call to people of ‘the four quarters of the globe’ to come to the kingdom of Bijapur that underscores this point. He writes: If anyone feels contented with the acquirement of wealth, rank, learning and art, he should, for the culture of good manners and excellent qualities, start on his way headlong, so that he may realize the extent of the King’s pomp and grandeur, dignity and glory.32 In this context, where the arts were esteemed, ‘new flavours’ appreciated, and foreigners encouraged to seek out Ibrahim’s patronage, it is easy to understand why Heda was so well received at Bijapur and offered a position as a court artist at just his second meeting with the ruler. One imagines that Heda’s artworks, such as the lost Venus, Cupid and Bacchus, would have fit well into the visual culture of Ibrahim’s court, where poetic and highly allusive imagery was the norm. Mannerist art, too, employed a complex visual and textual vocabulary to evoke multi-layered symbolic and allegorical readings; as in Bijapur, European elite cultures enjoyed these sorts of images, which required high degrees of education, reading and visual literacy to fully comprehend. Heda’s position as a court artist to Ibrahim Adil Shah was essential for the various roles he came to play. Though few records of court artists remain in Adil Shahi accounts (Zuhuri’s praise of the painter Farrukh Husayn is one of the only mentions of a specific artist), art was a key element in Bijapuri court culture. Like other rulers, Ibrahim used art objects and artists to both construct and codify the identity of his court, and his kingdom. In the shifting and often discordant politics of the Deccan region, that identity was a fundamental means of expressing, promoting and defending Bijapuri power. Thus, the work of artists was intrinsically connected to the political realm, and both art objects and art producers operated as powerful arguments for the current regime. When Heda accepted Ibrahim’s offer of a position, he became part of the court structure that Ibrahim controlled. On the practical level, that meant that the Bijapur ruler could call upon Heda to produce individual works, as he did at least twice. Heda’s account tells us that those images were European in both content and style, and probably circulated in the court as did other valuable and admired works of art, such as single-page paintings and illustrated books. It is also probable that 214

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Heda would have been expected to collaborate with other court artists from Bijapur on large-scale projects, such as decorations for Ibrahim’s new buildings or courtly festivals. Being a ‘painter-on-call’ for Ibrahim was certainly more stable, and more lucrative, than the situations Heda had encountered in Haarlem or Prague. Though he worked at the behest of – and under the control of – the ruler, he enjoyed a high social status and financial support. According to the account of Heinrich von Poser, a traveller to Bijapur in 1622, when Heda died he left behind a beautiful residence which was sufficiently grand to house the Safavid ambassador.33 On a more symbolic level, it is evident that Heda’s role as a highly visible and explicitly foreign member of the court was important to his success in Bijapur. Indeed, his activities as a painter seem to have taken a back seat to his role as a foreigner in the service of the ruler. After the initial two commissions, no other works of art are mentioned in Heda’s own letters. In fact, the only mention of painting in Heda’s letters comes in a letter dated 20 October 1612, where he writes about his art as a means to while away time.34 This is certainly not the account of a busy court artist involved in many projects. However, despite this apparent lack of commissions, Heda remained at court, and in the ruler’s service. Ibrahim’s seemingly steady support of Heda, regardless of the artist’s actual output, suggests that his value to his royal patron was of a type different from most court artists. In Heda’s case, his European origin appears to have trumped other concerns (such as amount or quality of his art). The existing evidence suggests, in fact, that it was Heda himself, rather than any paintings he produced, which Ibrahim ‘collected.’ In Ibrahim’s court, Heda functioned as an exotic object, representing the European nations that were becoming increasingly known to kingdoms in the Persianate world. Ibrahim’s control of a tame European painter allowed the ruler two important things: first, the chance to have ready access to prized Western art, and second, a living indication of his power, worldliness and status in comparison to other rulers of the period. Northern European art and artists were much admired in Iranian and Mughal circles, probably because of the naturalism of their styles.35 Shah Abbas had wanted a Western artist badly enough that ambassadors were willing to offer Heda a court position sight unseen. In fact, Abbas did not acquire an artist until the arrival of Jan van Hasselt in 1617, and then only because van Hasselt abandoned his original job as artist-companion to famed Italian world traveller Pietro Della Valle while in Isfahan.36 Among the Mughals, Emperor Akbar and his son Jahangir admired Western objects, acquiring paintings, sculptures and miniatures (along with rifles and other Western goods) voraciously and with great discrimination, as Jesuit observers and the British ambassador Thomas Roe all attested.37 Heda thus appears to have been an early example 215

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of a growing trend for Indian and Iranian rulers, and by acquiring him in 1610 Ibrahim seems to have trumped his rivals in the arenas of patronage and conspicuous display. As well, Heda’s position at the Bijapuri court would have expressed the culture of nauras perfectly, providing yet more evidence of the openness, cosmopolitanism and wealth of the kingdom. In simply being at Ibrahim’s court, then, Heda helped the Bijapur ruler enhance his power and consolidate the socio-political identity of his kingdom. One wonders what Heda actually did at court, if his job was primarily to be a collected object. In fact, Heda’s own letters provide ample evidence of yet another role he played, that of a representative for the Dutch East India Company. All of Heda’s extant letters are directed to VOC operatives, primarily to the local directors in Masulipatnam on the Golconda coast, but also to administrators in Surat and Amsterdam. He seems to have undertaken some small-time merchant activity on his own behalf (Heda reports a potential deal in borax and sends home small amounts of the pigment lapis lazuli), but he primarily provided information and diplomatic services. Unlike later Dutch artists active in India and Iran, such as Jan van Hasselt, Philips Angel and Isaac Koedijk, all of whom were VOC agents of various ranks, Heda never held an official appointment with the VOC. He appears to have acted instead as a consultant to the regional directors in Masulipatnam. Heda sent information to the directors about political developments in the area, movements of Portuguese fleets from Goa, and opportunities for trade. Heda also sheltered Dutch merchants travelling through Bijapur, and helped with negotiations with local authorities, such as over diamond pricing. In 1615 Heda’s influence with the Adil Shahi ruler helped speed permission for the establishment of a VOC ‘factory’ (trading post) in Bijapur. Though that project ultimately came to naught, the Company valued Heda. When he requested printed illustrated books (presumably as gifts for Ibrahim) in 1613, they sent impressive editions of a Bible, a copy of Jan Huygen van Linschoten’s Itinerario, and beautifully illustrated editions of an herbal and a medical treatise.38 At home, the VOC gave his mother and sisters a pension as recognition for Heda’s valuable services to the company.39 For Ibrahim, Heda was also valuable as a conduit for information. Politically, Ibrahim was confronted with the rising power of the Mughals in the north, the infighting among the different polities in the Deccan, and the influx of European powers vying for footholds in the southern part of the Subcontinent. With the Dutch appearing on the Hyderabad coast at Masulipatnam in 1605, setting the stage for even more conflict, Ibrahim clearly could benefit from having a closer connection with this new power. Ibrahim’s openness to the VOC can be seen in the speed with which he granted Heda a farmān allowing the establishment of a VOC outpost. Heda’s letters 216

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back to the VOC contain frequent reports detailing how friendly, willing and accessible Ibrahim’s kingdom was. This cultivation of the Dutch was far-sighted: between the years 1609 and 1617 the Dutch built over 20 fortresses along the Coromandel coast and cemented their control of the trade in Indian cotton, pushing out the formerly dominant Portuguese.40 Nowhere in the letters does Heda express anything but respect and admiration for Ibrahim. In a letter dated 1612, Heda describes Ibrahim as ‘a good lover of all the liberal arts, very mild and kind-hearted, unlike other Moors, and having also good judgment of all the arts.’41 There is no indication that Heda’s activities spilled over into spying, or that his foreign status was an impediment to his career. In fact, the opposite is true: though throughout the letters Heda affirms his own identity as a Dutchman, and though his dislike for the Portuguese is well documented (he declares they are ‘shitheads unworthy of trust’ on one occasion), he appears mostly satisfied with his position in Bijapur, and at Ibrahim’s court.42 Indeed, Heda was something of a salesman for Bijapur: he helped at least one Dutchman find a position with Bijapuri nobility, and encouraged the VOC factors to send other Netherlandish artisans to the Adil Shahi court.43 Heinrich von Poser named him a ‘well-known host to strangers,’ attesting to his role as unofficial envoy to the foreigners who came to Bijapur.44 This mix of trade and diplomacy was a common feature of the activities of Dutch artists abroad. The VOC, as the official arm of the Dutch Republic outside Europe, held both a trading monopoly and military authority in the region. With a standing army and a significant fleet, the VOC was a power to be reckoned with. The VOC organization in South Asia depended upon representatives, or agents, who built local contact networks and political connections benefiting Dutch trade. As mentioned above, most Dutch artists active in Iran were also VOC employees. Jan van Hasselt not only made paintings, drawings and decorative works for Shah Abbas, but also served him on several occasions as trade envoy to the Netherlands. At the same time, van Hasselt assisted the VOC in making trade deals, ensuring access and smoothing over diplomatic snafus in which the Dutch found themselves. Philips Angel and Isaac Koedijk were both agents whose skills as artists brought them to the ruler’s attention, and this access propelled their careers forward in the Company. Heda’s career also crossed the line between artistic production and mercantile/diplomatic activity. These roles, however, as we have seen, were not mutually exclusive. In fact, Ibrahim’s interest in ‘a painter from your country’ may register not only his interest in the aesthetics of Dutch art, but also a desire for access to this new player in the region. Heda too knew the roles available to him: his letters consistently celebrate his own Dutchness in terms both patriotic and practical, while emphasizing the strength of his local contacts and his access to the ruler.45 217

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The final letter from Heda to the VOC is dated 15 January 1619; an account by a traveller to the Deccan in 1622 tells us that the artist had just died.46 Presumably, he died in the ruler’s service. The only other indication, and a mediated one at that, of Heda’s career in Bijapur is the remarkable art created at the court of Ibrahim Adil Shah II.

Artistic connections As we have seen, no works by Heda from his time in Bijapur (or at any other point of his career) seem to have survived, nor can any Western-inspired images from Heda’s assistants or workshop be definitively identified. However, a few extant Bijapuri paintings do suggest a Mannerist influence, providing tantalizing links to Heda. Of course, other European images in the form of prints, illustrated books or even smallscale works of art most likely circulated in Bijapur, as they did in other courts of the region.47 Thus Heda’s influence cannot be specifically reconstructed; rather, it appears in diluted form as part of a larger mixture – that is, as part of a set of European visual devices and/or objects found in Bijapuri art after c. 1610. As with much of Bijapuri art, a close examination of select examples reveals layers of potential association and meaning, in this case between seventeenth-century Bijapuri art and European visual modes that further illuminate the role Heda played in Adil Shahi courtly culture. In particular, examining the connections to European art in the light of Heda’s presence in Bijapur makes it clear that after 1610 local artists increasingly mined available sources to add references to European art, thus enhancing the layering of references possible in their images.48 Heda’s role in Bijapur’s artistic culture, therefore, is best understood within the context of nauras: as adding another ingredient to the multiple ‘flavours’ and ‘new fashions’ in vogue at court. Many Deccani images made in the seventeenth century contain intriguing connections to European models, either in the objects pictured, the style used or the compositional structures employed, and, as stated, these connections can be attributed to a variety of factors and sources. Given these circumstances, and without any extant paintings by Heda, it remains difficult to pinpoint Heda’s influence. Here, we look both at individual Bijapuri works that reveal specific Mannerist stylistic or compositional elements, as well as the trend toward Western objects and visual devices that appears after about 1610, in the context of Heda’s arrival.49 One example of the former – and a compelling link to Heda’s potential impact – is a single-page painting in the Victoria and Albert Museum collections, showing three female figures in front of an arcade, with attendants and two European men with dogs in both foreground and landscape 218

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background (Fig. 9.3). In this image, the sinuous contours of the female figures and the bulging, rounded forms of their drapery depart significantly from Bijapuri styles and seem close to the self-consciously elegant volumes of European art (see Fig. 9.1). There is much attention to registering the breasts of the central figure as a volume rather than contour, which is quite unusual. Also novel in Bijapuri art are the costumes, which are made up of solid, undecorated blocks of colour in the skirts and long-sleeved, V-necked tunics, quite a departure from the sari or salwar kameez worn by most females in Bijapuri art. All of these elements point to a European source of inspiration.

Figure 9.3  Two Women in an Arcade, c. 1610s–20s, Bijapur (© Victoria and Albert Museum, London. IM.14–1913 recto).


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At the same time, the artist of the Victoria and Albert Museum painting is clearly not interested in copying a European model wholesale, but rather in signalling a set of exotic elements. Throughout, the unusual elements detailed above are combined with typical Bijapuri visual techniques and motifs. For example, there are two separate spatial systems in operation here: while the foreground chair and vessels all appear to recede with foreshortening, the rug, floor and landscape elements are layered vertically as is common in Bijapuri art. This produces some strange disconnects, such as when the low gold vessel appears to sit physically on the upper edge of the gold-trimmed rug. As is common in Bijapuri art, the figures act within both landscape and architectural settings, and the natural world is shown as a green background populated with craggy rocks and small white palaces (by contrast, the sky is represented with greater atmosphere than in many Bijapuri images, which tend to convey sky as a blue strip enlivened with decorative white birds or gold clouds). One might point to these areas as evidence of a flaw or lapse in the artist’s abilities to render Western-style space and naturalistic detail. Viewed within the court culture of Adil Shahi Bijapur, however, the layering of different types of visual systems registers as intentional signifiers. The shift in visual modes from Western-inspired elements to Bijapuri ones within the same work represents not a lack of skill in either mode, but rather another means by which to convey the cosmopolitan nature of Bijapuri culture. Moreover, while we cannot point to Heda’s role in the creation of this painting, it does signal a context in which Mannerist art was known, and utilized, by local artists for a Bijapuri audience. Notably, the verso of the Victoria and Albert Museum painting bears an image of a nursing Mary, with Saint Elizabeth and infant John the Baptist (Fig. 9.4). This image clearly references the printed Christian illustrations that circulated both as parts of illustrated books and single-leaf illustrations. The impact of such prints by Albrecht Dürer, Phillips Galle, and others, was quite dramatic in Mughal art, which shows many examples of copying and incorporating these images. However, few direct copies or even closely inspired reworkings of European images can be found in Deccani painting. This work is one of the few such examples. Not only the Christian subject, but the treatment of the bulky drapery of the Virgin’s cloak, with multitudinous and self-conscious folds and pleats, refers to printed examples of northern European art. The proximity of this image of the Virgin and Child to the Mannerist-referencing painting on the other side of the folio suggests that the two works formed part of an album or collection of images with a bent toward the foreign, again pointing to a visual environment in which there was a growing interest in, and desire for, the exotic. 220

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Figure 9.4  The Virgin Mary Nursing with Saints Elizabeth and Infant John the Baptist, c. 1610s–20s, Bijapur (© Victoria and Albert Museum, London. IM.14–1913 verso).

Another notable extant painting that suggests the influence of Mannerist art, albeit even more obliquely than the Victoria and Albert Museum painting, is the figural wall painting found on an interior room at the Athar Mahal in Bijapur.50 The building was constructed in 1646, during the reign of Muhammad Adil Shah, Ibrahim’s son, and at some point it came to house a relic associated with the Prophet Muhammad. When the Mughals conquered Bijapur, the Athar Mahal also held much of the Adil Shahs’ library, and some recent studies have suggested that the building acted as an architectural embodiment of, and stage for, visual displays of Muhammad Adil Shah’s power and right-to-rule.51 Several interior rooms contain magnificent wall paintings, mostly images of flowering vines and vases in sumptuous golds, greens and blues. The figural wall painting, in contrast, is today in poor condition due to neglect and 221

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iconoclasm. The images depict elite, probably royal, Indian women gathered together for some kind of celebration. One scene shows a group of women holding a baby, interpreted by at least one recent scholar as a depiction of the birth of Ali Adil Shah II, Muhammad’s son.52 Whatever the exact subject may have been, it is an unusual painting in both iconography and style. The figures are shown in full length and wear the fancy attire of courtly women of the time: saris richly adorned with jewels. The large scale of the figures, their placement close to the front of the picture plane, and details of modelling of forms led Henry Cousens, in his study of Bijapuri architecture in the early twentieth century, to suggest the painting was done by Italian or other European artists.53 While the condition of the paintings (and the fact that neither of the authors have seen the murals in person, as women are not allowed in the building) makes it difficult to draw any firm conclusions, this authorship is unlikely.54 In fact, the paintings seem to have been done by Indian artists, but ones who were exposed to Mannerist painting. This connection is evident in the style of the figures, which display the same sinuous lines and rounded forms seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum painting. As well, there is distinct modelling of the arms of the women, and an attention to complex layers of space in and around the figures. For example, the figure to the left, shown frontally, twists her upper torso to the right, with her right arm crossing in front of the body. Similar attempts to show three-dimensional spatial movement and relationship of volumes is seen in the figure to the right, who leans forward and holds the baby in her outstretched hands. One arm is shown under the baby, the hand curling back around his shoulder. These ambitious figures, though a bit clumsy in execution, signal again the ongoing use of Western – and specifically Mannerist – modes in Bijapuri art. The continuing relevance of these modes, particularly here in a courtly architectural setting, reiterates the importance that art such as Heda would have produced held in Bijapur. The Athar Mahal paintings are quite unusual, though written accounts tell us that the many new buildings constructed under Ibrahim in the new city of Nauraspur were heavily decorated with paintings, wood and other lavish surfaces.55 None of this decoration, unfortunately, survives. European elements and stylistic features appear more commonly in Bijapuri manuscript painting, layered in with traditional imagery, scenes and styles. We see references to European dress, imported objects from Europe as well as China, and occasional manifestations of European conventions in representations of space. Sometimes the artists employed these elements in ways that play up their exotic, unusual aspects, while in other examples, the artists have almost seamlessly integrated them into a rich Bijapuri style. 222

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For example, in the well-known painting of Ibrahim Adil Shah and a Sufi saint (Fig. 9.5), painted by a more accomplished hand than the Victoria and Albert Museum image and most likely completed a decade or two later (c. 1630), similar concerns with representing three-dimensionality and spatial recession appear, but here they have been more fully integrated into the overall scene. This enigmatic image, still not fully interpreted, shows the ruler to the left, bringing offerings to the Sufi saint, who sits on a platform under a canopy of honour.56 The artist has carefully modelled the hands, necks and faces of the figures to emphasize their volumetric form, giving the figures a compelling realism and presence. Though there appears to be an attempt to model the figures based upon a central light source, neither the objects shown nor the draperies

Figure 9.5  Ibrahim Adil Shah II Venerates a Sufi Saint, c. 1620s–30s, Bijapur (© The Trustees of the British Museum, London. 1997.1108.01).


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of the figures are treated in the same way. The Sufi saint’s draperies flow over his lower legs in elegant curving lines that obscure the forms beneath, and the book, goblet, flask and pincers are shown flatly, though with great detail. The one exception is the piece of fruit that lies illusionistically on the edge of the painted frame, its leaf curling up. This small detail performs multiple tasks: it shows the artistry of the painter, and signals the illusory function of the work itself. It also sets up a compositional system of recession into depth that appears to draw in part from Western models. The frontal plane, with the fruit, separates the viewer from the platform on which the saint sits. The space of that platform is delineated by the canopy, which recedes backward from the right to a corner post. The other figures are placed in diminishing hierarchical positions, shown spatially. Ibrahim enters on the left, behind the platform, and accesses the Sufi’s space with gaze and gesture. An attendant, on the right, is excluded by being placed outside the boundaries of the canopy, behind and to the right. Thus

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Figure 9.6  Woman Seated on a Chair,

Figure 9.7  Woman Pouring a Cup of Wine,

c. 1590s–1610s, Bijapur (© The Trustees of the

c. 1590s–1610s, Bijapur (© The Trustees of the

British Museum, London.1948.109.073 verso).

British Museum, London. 1948.10.9.086).


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the layers of space enhance the status of the figures, and the relative importance of the roles they play. Further complexity is added in the background. Behind the central group is a wall pierced by a niche (next to Ibrahim) and a doorway (framing the saint). Through the doorway a sliver of another room is visible, showing another niche cut off by the decorated edge of the door. The artist clearly intended for the figures to be seen as volumetric forms occupying a space that moved logically backward into the pictured space, receding as an extension of the viewer’s world. This structure, unusual in Bijapuri painting, enhances the accessibility of the saint, whose compelling outward gaze draws in the viewer. Such a portrait represents the very essence of Bijapuri court culture; it is a mixture of varied modes that include portraiture, poetry, allegory, religious sentiment, exotic elements and a compelling visual aesthetic. Though we cannot link Heda or even Mannerist painting to this work, the British Museum painting reveals how Western visual modes were comprehensively assimilated into the rich, cosmopolitan culture of Bijapur. If the painting of Ibrahim venerating a Sufi saint displays the assimilation of Western modes, other images employ European elements in playful or deliberate ways, as conspicuously exotic objects. Many feature European figures. Others show Indian figures, typically women, in European or pseudo-European dress and holding imported objects. One such image, found on the verso of a Bijapuri painting of a yogini datable to the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century, depicts a woman in a red European garment seated on some sort of raised chair (Fig. 9.6). She holds a book and a bouquet of flowers, and a single feather adorns her headdress. Her dress and accoutrements, rather than identifiable with a specific European tradition, seem to be a pastiche of items intended to signal exoticness. Clearly, the viewer is meant to admire her as an object of desire, just like the yogini on the other side of the folio.57 In a similar image of a female wearing a red dress and crown topped with a feather (Fig. 9.7), the woman pours a cup of wine – perhaps imported Spanish wine or perhaps the sweet wine of nauras mentioned in court poetry, into a Chinese gold cup. The viewer can admire the exotic woman, her foreign attire, and the luxurious objects from distant lands that surround her. These images may have functioned, like others of single female figures in Bijapuri art, as manifestations of the poetic topos of the lover and beloved. In this reading, the exotic accoutrements, such as dress, crown, and cup, serve to emphasize the painting’s romantic qualities. The image activates the viewer’s poetic fantasies, provides access points for allegory and textual allusion, and celebrates current ideals of beauty. Thus, such paintings represent the essence of Bijapuri art of the period of nauras: a sense of play, of fantasy, of poetic allusion and of internationalism. 225

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We cannot connect these female beauty images directly to Heda’s influence, or to that of any European painter, or even to known paintings. Certainly the elements might have come from actual figures or European and Chinese items for sale in Bijapur, or even from second-hand descriptions of foreigners seen in Goa or elsewhere, and then filtered through the artists’ imagination. Nonetheless, as a group, these paintings, taken together with the other manuscript and wall paintings discussed in this section, attest to the roles that Western European visual modes and objects played in Bijapuri art during the early seventeenth century. By correlation, they tell us something about the role Heda played as purveyor of those ways of figuration and as an exotic object himself. At a fundamental level, the incorporation of specifically European visual modes and the showcasing of foreign elements (in both playful and subtle ways) in Bijapuri art shows how Heda too became a part of the diverse and multivalent culture fostered during the reign of Ibrahim. Rather than a straight one-to-one (West-to-East) instance of influence, Heda’s work served as just one piece of the rich visual cultures, whether European, Persian, Mughal or local Deccani, that Bijapuri artists actively drew upon to create their distinctive paintings.

Conclusions One might be tempted to relegate Heda, as a mediocre Dutch painter who left no body of work – only a Gilbert-and-Sullivan-esque tale of travels, missteps and royal encounters – to an interesting, but ultimately obscure footnote in the history of Bijapuri visual culture. We argue, however, that his story deserves a more prominent place than that in our understanding of Deccan art. Heda ended up in Bijapur largely by chance, but his success there was no accident. The reasons why he travelled, his comparative success and failures along the way, the aspects of the courtly environment that allowed him to thrive in Bijapur, and the various roles he played at Ibrahim’s court, including that of painter, VOC agent, status symbol and exotic object: all these things serve to link the specific culture of Adil Shahi Bijapur to the larger early modern world. Studies of Bijapur’s art, and Deccan art more generally, often highlight its uniqueness – the multivalency, diversity of cultural influences, yet strong regional flavour and distinctive stylistic character that mark its flourishing in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These things are true and important to note, particularly because the study of Deccan art is still, to a large degree, nascent and deserving of more attention. At the 226

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same time, to fully understand the visual and cultural environment of the region, we cannot view it in isolation. We need to see its development from a larger perspective, one that takes into account broader developments in the Persianate world, as well as the early modern world in general. As Ebba Koch has suggested for Mughal art, we also need to reconsider how the arrival of Western imagery impacted Bijapuri art.58 Heda’s story provides one way to do both of those things. Ibrahim’s appointment of Heda as a court artist links the Bijapuri ruler to the efforts of his Safavid and Mughal contemporaries to acquire European painters. The fluid relationship between art, trade and politics, as embodied in Heda’s position at court, echoes Shah Abbas’s multifaceted motivation for sending the various embassies to the court of Rudolph II as well as Thomas Roe’s experiences as ambassador at the Mughal court. The Adil Shahi elite’s interest in, and desire for, exotic goods likewise connects it to the elite from Delhi to Isfahan, to Prague and beyond. As ship routes became truly global for the first time, as international trade increased at ever-growing rates and companies like the VOC opened new outposts, far-flung locations were becoming connected in new ways. Heda’s circuitous journey demonstrates just how global the early modern world was becoming. His story also shows the reciprocal nature of such early modern encounters – it was not only the ‘East’ that was being discovered, collected, and reframed in a new context, but the ‘West’ as well. Indeed, the various ways in which Bijapur’s artists incorporated European elements into their paintings as well as the ways in which Heda functioned in Bijapur’s courtly context reveal how European visual modes and objects were appropriated and absorbed into the ‘culture of nauras.’ The arrival of Heda and Western European visual modes did not fundamentally alter the way Bijapuri art was created or appreciated. Instead, European art operated as one of many distinct flavours, allusions and elements of play that embodied and further shaped the court culture consciously fostered by Ibrahim and his nobles as a way of creating an identity for his kingdom. Thus, while connected to larger trends of the early modern period, these European elements were employed and reframed in ways unique to Bijapur. Likewise, Heda’s tale, from his training as a Mannerist painter in the Netherlands, to his meeting of Iranian ambassadors in Prague, to his being jailed and sent to Goa, only to be released and flee to Bijapur, where thanks to a Venus, Bacchus and Cupid painting he was swiftly appointed court artist to Ibrahim Adil Shah II, is truly one-of-a-kind. But, at the same time, Heda’s example also highlights the frequency, complexity and vibrancy of the ways in which various parts of the world interacted in the early seventeenth century. In the end, it is this combination of the unusual and the typical that makes Heda’s story so compelling. 227

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Notes 1 Nationaal Archief (hence: National Archives), The Hague. Archives of the Vereinigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) 1.04.02; 1055, dated 16 May 1610, folios 3–5. Published as Supplement B by A. van der Willigen, Les Artistes de Haarlem (Haarlem, 1860), 22–26. Translations are by Rebecca Tucker except where noted. 2 Ten letters from Heda dating between 1610 and 1619 survive, including both originals and copies made by VOC secretaries. There are a handful of letters from VOC factors that mention Heda, and in one case a reply to one of Heda’s letters. All of these remain in the National Archive in The Hague. A brief account of Heda in Bijapur, containing the information about his death date, is in the travel journal of Heinrich von Poser, translated in Gita Dharampal, ‘Heinrich von Poser’s Travelogue to the Deccan,’ Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society 73 (1982), 108. 3 In a letter dated 23 May 1617 (National Archives, The Hague, VOC 1065, folio 104), Heda refers to Cornelis Cornelisz. as ‘my master.’ Heda joined the Haarlem guild of St. Luke as a master in 1587. He appears in Haarlem archives in normal capacity, witnessing a baptism and owing a small debt to an innkeeper. P.J.J. van Thiel, Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem (Doornspijk, 1999), 171; catalogue entry on Willem Claesz. Heda by Irene van Thiethoff-Spliethoff in Painting in Haarlem 1500–1800, The Frans Hals Museum, ed. N. Köhler and P. Biesboer (Ghent, 2006), 189–95. 4 ‘Mannerism’ remains a contested term in early modern art history; here, it is used as a stylistic marker. The classic investigation into the style is John Shearman, Mannerism (Harmondsworth, 1967). 5 Most of the Mannerist painters of the Haarlem school enjoyed international reputations and had international experiences: Karel van Mander travelled widely, and spent time in Germany, Italy and Prague working for important patrons; Hendrick Goltzius journeyed to Rome, and his works were collected all over Europe. 6 On the art market in Holland, see Hans van Miegroet and Neil de Marchi, ‘Art, Value, and Market Practices in the Netherlands in the Seventeenth Century,’ The Art Bulletin 76 (1994), 452–64; Michael North, Art Markets in Europe 1400–1600 (Aldershot, 1998). 7 Marten Jan Bok, ‘Art Lovers and their Patrons,’ in Dawn of the Golden Age: Northern Netherlandish Art 1580–1620, ed. Ger Luijten (Zwolle, 1993), 151. 8 On Rudolph II as a patron, see Thomas DaCosta Kauffmann, The School of Prague: Painting at the Court of Rudolph II (Chicago, 1988); Rudolph II and Prague: the Court and the City, ed. E. Fučíková (London, 1997). 9 Kauffmann, School of Prague, 42–43. 10 Blanka Ernest-Martinec and Hessel Miedema, ‘De gildebrief van Rudolf II voor de schilders van Praag van 27 april 1595 en zijn implicaties rondom het begrip kunst,’ Oud Holland 17 (2004), 154–61; Michal Sronek, ‘Painters in Prague between the Guild and the Court,’ in Rudolph II, Prague, and the


a dutch artist in bijapur World: Papers from the International Conference – Prague 2–4 September, 1997, ed. Lubomir Konecny (Prague, 1998), 216–19. 11 In 1603–4 alone Shah Abbas sent six or seven missions to various European courts, for the combined purpose of finding alliances against the Ottomans and building up the Safavid silk trade. For further discussion of these missions and Abbas’s motives, see: Rudolph Matthee, ‘Anti-Ottoman Concerns and Caucasian Interests: Diplomatic Relations between Iran and Russia, 1587–1639,’ in Safavid Iran and Her Neighbors, ed. Michel Maazaoui (Salt Lake City, UT, 2003), 101–28; id., The Politics of Trade in Safavid Iran: Silk for Silver, 1600–1730 (Cambridge, 1999), 76; Andrew J. Newman, Safavid Iran: Rebirth of a Persian Empire (London/New York, 2006), 61–67. 12 Niels Steensgaard describes the reception of these ambassadors in The Asian Trade Revolution of the Seventeenth Century: The East India Companies and the Decline of the Caravan Trade (Chicago, 1973), 239; Christine Riding credits English adventurer Robert Shirley’s elaborate robes with starting a fad for Persian fabrics in Europe: ‘Travellers and Sitters: the Orientalist Portrait,’ in The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting, ed. Nicholas Tromans (London, 2008), 49. 13 These events are described in Heda’s letter of 6 May 1610. See note 1. 14 Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘An Augsburger in Asia Portuguesa: Further Light on the Commercial World of Ferdinand Cron, 1587–1624,’ in Emporia, Commodities and Entrepreneurs in Asian Maritime Trade, c. 1400–1750, ed. Roderich Ptak and Dietmar Rothermund (Stuttgart, 1991), 401–25. 15 As Sanjay Subrahmanyam suggests, the difference between a German and a Dutchman may not have been particularly clear to the Portuguese in Goa. Subrahmanyam, ‘An Augsburger in Asia Portuguesa,’ 416. Gijs Kruijtzer, Xenophobia in Seventeenth-Century India (Leiden, 2009), 20, reads Heda’s account in his 1610 letter as an admission that he deceived both Cron as well as the Viceroy as to his true Dutch identity. The text is open to other readings, however, including one of dual duplicity in getting Heda off from charges of spying. Either way, Cron’s word in the case appears to have been final. 16 Subrahmanyam, ‘An Augsburger in Asia Portuguesa,’ 406. 17 For estimation of the journey length and a map of typical travel routes in South India, see Sanjay Subrahmanyam, The Political Economy of Commerce: Southern India, 1500–1650 (Cambridge, 1990), 80–82. 18 Karel van Mander, Het Schilder-boeck (Haarlem, 1604). 19 Only one other European painter is known to have resided in Bijapur in the seventeenth century: a ‘painter-spy’ named Antonio de Witt, mentioned in Johan van Twist’s account of his 1637 visit to Bijapur. Based on Twist’s account, de Witt seems to have drawn a pension from the Viceroy of Goa, presumably for passing on vital information, while also reporting information back to the Adil Shahi court. Twist and his entourage attended a banquet at de Witt’s house one night during their visit, suggesting that the artist was doing fairly well in Bijapur. No mention, however, is made of any art produced by de Witt. P.M. Joshi, ‘Johan van Twist’s Mission to Bijapur, 1637,’ Journal of Indian History 34/2 (1956), 111–37.


The Visual World of Muslim India 20 Jacques de Coutre, Andanzas asiaticas, ed. Eddy Stols et al. (Madrid, 1991), 116–18. 21 For more information on the make-up of Bijapur’s nobility, as well as cultural interaction in general in the Adil Shahi kingdom and how it related to the court’s identity, see Deborah Hutton, Art of the Court of Bijapur (Bloomington, IN, 2006), 13–25. 22 As quoted in Asad Beg, ‘Wikaya-i Asad Beg,’ tr. B.W. Chapman, in The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians: The Muhammadan Period, ed. H.M. Elliot and John Dowson, vol. 6 (2nd ed., Calcutta, 1953), 163–64. 23 Asad Beg, 165–66, records presenting tobacco brought back from Bijapur to the Mughal emperor Akbar for the first time. See also Laura E. Parodi’s essay in this volume. 24 Muhammad Zuhur bin Zuhuri, Sih Nathr, in A History of Persian Language and Literature at the Mughal Court, ed. and tr. Muhammad Abdul Ghani, vol. 3 (Allahabad, 1930), 323–467, 462–67. 25 For example, Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II Playing the Tambur, c. 1600, Bijapur, in the Naprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures, Prague (A. 12182), and Ibrahim Adil Shah II Holding Castanets, c. 1610, Bijapur, in the British Museum, London (1937 4–1002). Both paintings are reproduced and discussed in Hutton, Art of the Court of Bijapur, 101–3 and pls. 21–22. See also Keelan Overton’s essay in this volume. 26 P.M. Joshi, ‘Asad Beg’s Mission to Bijapur, 1603–1604,’ in Mahamahopadhyaya: Prof. D. V. Potdar Sixty-First Birthday Commemoration Volume, ed. S.N. Sen (Pune, 1950), 193. 27 B.G. Gayani, ‘Kitab-i Nauras,’ Islamic Culture 19/2 (1945), 140–52. 28 As Zuhuri, Sih Nathr, 340, writes, in explaining why Ibrahim named his collection of songs the Kitāb-i Nauras, ‘…the Indians call a mixture of nine juices “nauras,” and if the Persians believe it to be the fresh fruit of the tree of his learning and perfection, it is appropriate…’ 29 Nazir Ahmad, Zuhuri, Life and Works (Allahabad, 1953), 142. 30 Zuhuri, Sih Nathr, 444; Hutton, Art of the Court of Bijapur, 117. 31 For a fuller discussion of Nauraspur, see Hutton, Art of the Court of Bijapur, 107–19. 32 Zuhuri, Sih Nathr, 340. 33 Dharampal, ‘Heinrich von Poser,’ 108. 34 National Archives, The Hague, 1.03.02, VOC 1056, dated 20.10.1612, folio 133. 35 See, for example, Ebba Koch, ‘The Influence of the Jesuit Missions on Symbolic Representations of the Mughal Emperors,’ in Mughal Art and Imperial Ideology: Collected Essays (New Delhi, 2001), 1–11, and id., ‘Netherlandish Naturalism in Imperial Mughal painting,’ Apollo 152 (2000), 29–37. 36 Willem M. Floor, ‘Dutch Painters in Iran during the First Half of the Seventeenth Century,’ Persica 8 (1979), 145–47. 37 The Mughal exposure to Western European art was facilitated in the late 1500s by the Jesuit missions that attended on Akbar’s court. They brought with them oil paintings, retablos and other forms of figural devotional imagery, including prints. They also provided Akbar with many important printed books. Akbar encouraged his court artists to study all these works as part of his own form of court


a dutch artist in bijapur propaganda. Thus, images by Albrecht Dürer, Philips Galle and the illustrations in the Jesuit text Evangelicae Historicae Imagines (1593) were referenced often by Mughal artists. There are tantalizing references to a Portuguese painter in the staff of the third Jesuit mission (founded 1595). A 1596 letter by the Jesuit leader Jeronimo Xavier tells us this artist was commandeered by Prince Salim (future Emperor Jahangir) to work exclusively for himself. When Thomas Roe arrived in 1615, he found a very sophisticated court, which entertained extremely high standards of connoisseurship, so much so that his gifts from the King of England appeared shabby by comparison. On the Jesuits, see Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Art on the Jesuit Missions in Asia and Latin America (Toronto, 1999), 112–26; on Roe, see Richmond Barbour, Before Orientalism: London’s Theatre of the East, 1576–1626 (Cambridge, 2003), 167–78. 38 National Archives, The Hague, 1.04.02, VOC 1056, dated 30.11.1613, fol. 237v; Kruijtzer, Xenophobia, 23. 39 van der Willigen, Les Artistes, 154, cites a letter from VOC director Samuel Kint to Heda. National Archives, The Hague 1.04.02, 1062, dated 23.9.1615, folio 48. 40 Jonathan Israel, The Dutch Primacy in World Trade (Oxford, 1990), 101–3. 41 National Archives, The Hague 1.04.02, VOC 1056, dated 20.12.1612, folio 133v. 42 ‘…datmen de hefters geen gelooff sal houden.’ Ibid., folio 136r. Translated by Kruijzer, Xenophobia, 26. 43 He helped Gerrit Gerritsz. find a position with Ya‘qut Khan at Ibrahim’s court, and he mentioned watchmakers, smiths and musicians as the kind of ‘beautiful mind’ that would delight the ruler. National Archives, The Hague, 1.04.02, VOC 1056, dated 20.12.1612, folio 133v. In 1.04.02, VOC 1057, dated 22.1.1614, Heda explains how he assisted Hans Broeck with finding employment. In other letters he mentions meetings with Englishmen, delivering money to Dutch prisoners, and other helpful actions. Kruijtzer, Xenophobia, 24. 44 Dharampal, ‘Heinrich von Poser,’ 108. 45 This reading amplifies the account of Heda’s national identity found in Kruijtzer, Xenophobia, 21–25. 46 Dharampal, ‘Heinrich von Poser,’ 108. 47 See notes 35 and 37. 48 Some paintings datable to pre-1610 Bijapur also contain elements perhaps drawn from European sources. For example, as Jeremiah P. Losty has speculated in ‘The Development of the Golconda Style,’ in Indian Art and Connoisseurship: Essays in Honour of Douglas Barrett, ed. John Guy (New Delhi, 1995), 313, the distant hilltop palace visible in many Bijapuri paintings of the period may have come from Dutch and Portuguese prints that reached the Deccan through Goa. However, the extant paintings suggest that the use of European elements increased throughout the seventeenth century. Whether this increase is specifically because of Heda’s presence or not is impossible to determine, and, in any case, largely beside the point. What the increase does clearly demonstrate is a growing interest in, and use of, such European elements.


The Visual World of Muslim India 49 Few Mannerist objects are known to have circulated in South Asian or Persian courts. The court with the most oil paintings in the late 1500s was that of the Mughals, and their collection was made up primarily of devotional Christian works given to Akbar by Jesuits. These images, when shown publically, were, according to some sources, sufficiently rare as to cause riots among the population. Bailey, Jesuit Missions, 116, 126. 50 Images of it may be found in M.A. Nayeem, The Heritage of the Adil Shahis of Bijapur (Hyderabad, 2008), figs. 41–49. 51 For a discussion of the Athar Mahal as royal library, see Salim al-Din Quraishi, The Royal Library of Bijapur (London, 1981), 7–13. 52 Nayeem, Heritage of the Adil Shahis, 280. 53 Henry Cousens, Bijapur and its Architectural Remains: With an Historical Outline of the ‘Adil Shahi Dynasty, vol. 37 of Archaeological Survey of India, New Imperial Series (Bombay, 1916; repr. Delhi, 1976), 92. Nayeem, Heritage of the Adil Shahis, 280, also suggests that the paintings are the work of ‘Italian or Portuguese artists.’ 54 By 1646, when the building was constructed, Heda had been dead for over two decades. Antonio de Witt, the painter mentioned by Johan van Twist in his account of his 1637 visit to Bijapur, may still have been in residence, and in fact, Joshi, ‘van Twist’s Mission,’ 115, suggests that de Witt was perhaps responsible for both the Athar Mahal paintings and wall paintings containing European figures at the water pavilion of Kumatgi, east of Bijapur. However, stylistic analysis (and Kumatgi’s paintings have been studied in person) indicates, we believe, that Indian artists completed the wall paintings. 55 For example, the historian Zubayri writes that wood, gilding, lapis lazuli and ‘various paintings in different styles’ embellished Nauraspur’s architecture. Mirza Ibrahim Zubayri, Basāṭīnu’s-Salāṭīn (Persian ms., 1811; printed ed., Hyderabad, 1892–93), 278. 56 Clearly the image contains allegorical or iconographic details, such as the small scissors and scroll held by the Sufi saint, meant to inform the viewer of his identity. However, scholars have yet to establish either who he is or to fully interpret the meaning of this work. 57 For a reproduction and discussion of the yogini image, see Hutton, Art of the Court of Bijapur, 83–96 and figs. 3–4. 58 Koch, ‘Jesuit Missions,’ 1–11; id., ‘Netherlandish Naturalism,’ 29–37.


10 Vida





A Flemish Account of Bijapuri Visual Culture in the Shadow of Mughal Felicity

—Keelan Overton—


rt historians who research the visual culture of Bijapur during the reign of Ibrahim Adil Shah II (1580–1627) use a variety of texts penned by foreign visitors to aid their scholarship.1 This essay introduces an additional external source for the study of Bijapuri art history: the autobiography/travel account of Jacques de Coutre (c. 1575–1640), entitled Vida de Jacques de Coutre, natural de la ciudad de Brugas.2 As indicated in the Vida’s title, de Coutre was a native of Bruges. In his teens, he left his war-embattled homeland to join his brother, Joseph, in Lisbon, and the two brothers soon departed for India, eventually landing in Goa in September 1591. Jacques quickly set off for Melaka as a soldier and spent the next decade travelling throughout Southeast Asia. In 1603, he reconnected with his brother in Goa and, for the next two decades, he worked as an itinerant jewel merchant throughout the Deccan. In 1623, both brothers were accused of being Dutch spies and were expelled from Goa. They were eventually exonerated and spent the rest of their lives working in Spain. It was during this latter stage of his life (c. 1628) that de Coutre wrote his memoirs. De Coutre’s original Portuguese text has been lost, but a slightly later Castilian translation exists in a single manuscript in the Biblioteca Nacional de España, Madrid.3 As recorded in the Vida’s title page, de Coutre’s son, Estevan, was responsible for the translation, which is dated to the year of his father’s death, 1640. It is also likely that Estevan organized his father’s first-person account into three books, each of which covers a decade-long period. Despite its title page and presumed intention for publication, the Vida was relegated 233

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to obscurity for over three centuries. Since its discovery in the late 1960s, the Vida has been published in Dutch and Spanish, and a handful of scholars have investigated specific aspects of the text, including de Coutre’s observations of the Deccan’s diamond mines and his travels to Agra.4 Most recently, the Vida has been considered in a study devoted to Indo-Persian travel accounts.5 To date, and to the best of my knowledge, the Vida has not been used in art-historical scholarship of Bijapur. The initial aim of this essay is therefore to summarize de Coutre’s descriptions of Bijapur’s built landscape and material culture. Inspired by de Coutre’s eye for jewels, I will then analyse Ibrahim-era portraiture through the lens of bejewelled adornment. Finally, I will explore the role of visual culture in Mughal-Adil Shahi diplomacy of the early seventeenth century, a subject also considered by de Coutre. Before analysing the Vida in depth, it is first useful to situate the text in comparison to two other contemporary accounts of Ibrahim and Bijapur. Unlike the Mughal envoy Asad Beg Qazwini, who met with Ibrahim on two occasions over an approximately two-week period in January 1604, de Coutre met with the Bijapuri ruler on at least five documented occasions between 1604 and 1619.6 Like Asad Beg, however, de Coutre consistently described Ibrahim as Adil Khan (Idalcán; ms. Ydalcán), rather than Adil Shah.7 In doing so, he echoed Mughal titulature and the northern court’s refusal to acknowledge the sovereignty of the Deccan’s three Islamic kingdoms.8 In contrast to the Dutch painter Cornelius Claesz. Heda, who actually lived in Bijapur for nearly a decade between 1608 and 1617,9 de Coutre visited the city on a sporadic and shortterm basis as he travelled between the cities and mines of the Deccan. Within the Vida itself, de Coutre’s accounts of Bijapur thus occur intermittently throughout Books Two and Three and are often interrupted by lengthy accounts of adventures elsewhere. As recorded in Book Two, Chapter One of the Vida, de Coutre first travelled to Bijapur in 1604, and his initial meeting with Ibrahim took place at night within an outdoor patio, presumably in Nauraspur.10 This patio was filled with more than five hundred bejewelled women who danced and played instruments before the ruler. During the meeting, de Coutre sold two Arab horses to Ibrahim’s son, Fath Khan (Faticán), and three emeralds to the ruler himself, which weighed three hundred, two hundred and one hundred or so carats, respectively. De Coutre also showed Ibrahim a mould of two jewels that were in Goa, and the king agreed to send a certain ‘Coya Naura’ to the coast to inspect and buy the jewels. In the next chapter, de Coutre adopts a decidedly more negative tone when describing the circulation of Bijapuri nobles and their entourages throughout the city. These entourages included palanquins adorned with pearls as large as garbanzos (ms.: gravanço), or chickpeas, and were accompanied by dozens of elephants and horses 234

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covered in silver and gold chains and slaves carrying jewel-encrusted vessels.11 A picture thus emerges of an exceedingly rich material culture, which de Coutre ultimately casts as ostentatious. He observes that Bijapur’s nobles carry themselves with ‘pomp and excessive spending’ (pompa y execivos gastos) and ‘display more than all of the nations in the orient’ (luzen más que todas las nasciones del oriente).12 The chapter concludes with a description of the jewels worn by elite Bijapuri women, including earrings ‘as big as the palm of a hand’ (tan grandes como una palma de la mano) and ‘chokers of very thick pearls’ (ahogaderos de perlas mui gruessas).13 The following year, in 1605, de Coutre returned to Bijapur and immediately sought an audience with Ibrahim, who was in a room of his palace (un corridor de su palacio), presumably the zenāna, watching women (rameras) dance.14 De Coutre sold Ibrahim a few jewels, and the ruler and merchant proceeded to a stone theatre outside the city to watch a series of elephant fights. At this point in the Vida, de Coutre briefly strays from his rather strict chronological narrative in order to describe Ibrahim’s fervent interest in wrestling. According to de Coutre, this form of combat took place in the palace, where Ibrahim would sit en público and watch paid wrestlers, who were mostly Hindus, fight one another. De Coutre next describes his encounter with a named, albeit only by title, Bijapuri noble. This ‘Costeracán’ was very close to Ibrahim and had been his esclavo.15 One day, Ibrahim decided to visit Costeracán at his palace. This momentous occasion was preceded by eight days of celebration, during which Bijapur’s streets were decorated in silk and gold and ‘dishonest and profane paintings’ (de pinturas deshonestas y profanas).16 During their meeting, Costeracán presented the king with many jewels and other things, and Ibrahim returned the favour by making Costeracán’s sons nobles of the kingdom. A few days later, de Coutre himself visited Costeracán and commented that his newly built palace and gardens were cosa superior. De Coutre ends his chapter with a description of his final, in terms of his 1605 visit, audience with Ibrahim. De Coutre was allowed to enter where the king was ‘out in the open’ (al sereno) with his courtiers, watching women dance.17 Before paying de Coutre, the king ordered that the merchant be covered in perfumed water, a silk robe and garlands of flowers. From 1612 onwards, de Coutre used Bijapur as a staging point from which to launch short-term excursions to various Deccani mines.18 De Coutre’s accounts of these brief sojourns in Bijapur are rather curt and uninteresting. He simply records selling perlas y joyas to Ibrahim and others and maintains that he was well received by the king, who honoured him with gold and silk cloths and betel.19 By contrast, it is de Coutre’s account of an altogether separate Deccani excursion that sheds the most insight into his position at Ibrahim’s court in Bijapur. In 1618, de Coutre was detained at Raichur 235

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Fort and interrogated by an Adil Shahi noble identified as the son of one ‘Malique Harán.’ De Coutre was very frustrated by his detainment and asked the governor: Don’t you know who I am? I am the merchant of your king, Idalcán (Adil Khan). And sir, aren’t you the son of Malique Harán? I am surprised that you do not recognize me, since I am a friend of your father’s and have visited his house several times… The entire world knows that I am the merchant of your king, and I sold him all of the pearls that he bought for his daughter when she married the king Izan Maluco (Nizam Shah). And I enter the palace of the king whenever I want to. I am surprised that you do not know me.20 De Coutre returns to the subject of Bijapur in Book Three, Chapter Five, corresponding to the year 1619. He begins by lamenting how Mir Musa, Jahangir’s ambassador, had left Goa for Bijapur without paying for jewels. As a result, de Coutre followed Mir Musa to Bijapur and subsequently sought Ibrahim’s assistance. The Bijapuri ruler evidently sent a message to Mir Musa instructing him to settle his debt with the merchant, but the Mughal ambassador ignored this request because Ibrahim was merely a tributary of the Mughal court (el mismo rey Idalcán es tributario del Mogor).21 The next day, Mir Musa departed for Agra without paying de Coutre. The remainder of the chapter is a lengthy tirade against the Bijapuri ruler, whom de Coutre clearly held accountable for Mir Musa’s departure. After briefly chronicling Ibrahim’s violent rise to power, de Coutre observes that the king reigned with a great deal of tyranny for some fifty years.22 The reason for this ‘remarkable state’ (estado notable) was that Ibrahim only gave power to Turks, Iranians and Habshis (African slaves, lit. ‘Abyssinians’), instead of blood relatives and local Muslims, and presided over a sophisticated spy network that curtailed the rise of powerful nobles.23 De Coutre suggests that the ultimate cause of Ibrahim’s tyrannical rule at home was his relationship with el Mogor, first Akbar (d. 1605) and then Jahangir (d. 1627). The merchant paints a picture of Ibrahim as a weak pacifist who essentially paid off the Mughal emperor with tribute in order to avoid war. He even quotes Ibrahim as saying, Why would I want to make war on the Mogor (hazer guerra al Mogor)…? I would rather offer him the money as a gift (offerta), and content him (contentarle), and be his friend (ser su amigo), and remain in my house with my peace and quiet.24 According to the merchant, the Mughal emperor’s continual pressure eventually bankrupted Ibrahim and turned him into a disgruntled recluse: 236

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When he reached his old age, he did not have any more with which to make war even if he had so wished, and he has suffered a thousand frauds (mil supercherías) to which the Mogor (el Mogor) has subjected him, and even become tributary (tributario) to him.25 De Coutre concludes by describing Ibrahim as a man of good stature (buena estatura), with a long beard and large moustache, and ‘a little brown in the face like a gypsy’ (un poquito Moreno de cara a lo gitano).26 He then maintains that his descriptions are rooted in reason (razón) and truth (verdad), because he was very close to Ibrahim and his nobles.27 This final assertion stimulates the following question: To what extent can we trust the Vida as a reliable source? In order to answer this question, it is necessary to consider the overall purpose and organization of the text. In an article analysing the Vida from a literary perspective, George D. Winius and Carrie Chorba describe the first two books of the Vida as a picaresque adventure story about de Coutre’s life.28 They conclude that, although hyperbole is ubiquitous throughout the Vida, the text can nevertheless be read as a ‘valuable historical document.’29 In contrast to Books One and Two, Book Three ultimately functioned as an ‘apologia,’ which sought to present its author as both a loyal servant of Philip IV (d. 1665) and an expert on all things Asian.30 Indeed, the appendices of the Vida include seven arbítrios, or memorials, penned by de Coutre between 1625 and 1629, which advise the Habsburg court on how to ‘remedy’ various militaristic and economic circumstances throughout the Estado da Índia.31 These arbítrios, and the Vida as a whole, were composed in the wake of de Coutre’s accusation of being a Dutch spy and ‘must therefore be understood as a programme of rehabilitation for its author,’ as recently noted by Alam and Subrahmanyam.32 The subtle blending of the historical and the picaresque that occurs throughout the Vida is exemplified in de Coutre’s description of his aforementioned detainment at Raichur Fort. De Coutre paints a picture of a terrifying interrogation by the governor in a dilapidated, dark interior lacking walls on some sides. In the centre of the room was a large well, and the merchant was positioned on the edge of this deep abyss while the governor riddled him with questions. Although de Coutre feared he would face his death at the bottom of the pit, he calmly responded to all of the governor’s questions and noted in his Vida, ‘Without a doubt, God spoke for me on this occasion.’33 Despite these ‘literary touches,’34 the author nonetheless provides his reader with an accurate depiction of Raichur Fort: he notes its elevated position on a rocky outcrop and indicates that it once belonged to the emperors of Vijayanagara (Bisnagar) but was currently in a ruinous state. His description of the 237

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Figure 10.1  Ibrahim Adil Shah II Presenting a Necklace to his Lover, Bijapur, c. 1610–27, folio from the Small Clive Album (© Victoria and Albert Museum, London, IS 48–1956, fol. 1b).

well near the Doddi Gate lends further credence to his text, for this well remains intact today. While the Raichur incident exposes de Coutre’s often theatrical and self-inflating voice, it nevertheless underscores his inclination to describe, often in great detail, the visual landscape in which his adventures took place. It is de Coutre’s ability to paint pictures with words that renders his Vida of use to the art historian. From an art-historical perspective, his most useful passages concern dress and personal adornment (of yogis and court women), spaces of leisure and entertainment within Bijapur (theatres, gardens, the zenāna35), peripheral locations within the Adil Shahi kingdom (Raichur and various mines), court ceremonial (gift exchange), and Ibrahim’s appearance and inner circle. 238

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When considered as a whole, the Vida presents Ibrahim’s Bijapur as an extremely wealthy city, steeped in the conspicuous consumption and display of luxury goods on a massive scale. One reads of elite entourages consisting of half a dozen elephants, sixty to seventy horses, and more than three thousand men on horseback playing trumpets and instruments. With palanquins adorned with garbanzo-sized pearls and countless slaves carrying bejewelled vessels, these entourages were veritable treasuries on the move. The bodies of Bijapur women were similarly adorned with countless jewels, and elite Bijapuri men seem to have exchanged diamonds and pearls on a relatively regular basis. In addition to jewels, Bijapur’s elite also enjoyed other rare and precious items, such as ambergris, frutas de España, betel and a variety of silk and gold cloths.36 Based on de Coutre’s description of the ubiquity of jewels in Bijapur, one might expect contemporary portraits of Ibrahim to depict him engaging with jewels or wearing them in a conspicuous manner, as is often the case in Mughal portraits of Jahangir and his sons and nobles. In fact, of the approximately sixteen portraits of Ibrahim that can be confidently dated to his reign or immediately after, only four depict the ruler in a bejewelled mode.37 In the first, Bust Portrait of Ibrahim (The David Collection, 105/2007), the ruler wears a splendid necklace consisting of four strands of emeralds. In the second, Ibrahim Walking with Attendants (private collection), Ibrahim wears a large necklace of rudraksha berries, but he also sports bracelets consisting of large rubies and emeralds and a bejewelled aigrette. His attendants are similarly adorned in jewellery, and a canopy encrusted with emeralds, pearls and rubies lingers above his head. In the third, Ibrahim Presenting a Necklace (Victoria and Albert Museum), the Bijapur ruler places what appears to be a lapis lazuli necklace around a woman’s neck (Fig. 10.1). Both he and his consort wear circular pendants, while he also wears a crescent-shaped pendant. In the fourth, Ibrahim Feeding a Hawk (Earl of Harrowby Collection), the ruler sports a five-stranded pearl necklace and various rings and heavy gold bracelets.38 These bracelets consist of gold discs inset with rubies and encircled by pearls, and his attendants wear similarly bejewelled discs as necklace pendants. Comparable pendants are depicted in Ibrahim’s Consort Watching a Maid Killing a Snake (National Library of Russia, Dorn 489, fol. 69v), which likely served as a pendant to the Harrowby painting.39 The jewellery featured in the images described above, especially the necklace pendants, appears to have been unique to Bijapur. Indeed, one rarely sees this type of jewellery in coeval Mughal portraiture. Jahangir, for instance, typically wears long strands of pearls strung with emeralds or rubies and shorter necklaces emphasizing individual jewels in their relatively natural form.40 In his own memoirs, Jahangir himself underscored the distinctiveness of Bijapuri neck ornamentation. Upon his dismissal of a Bijapuri envoy in September 1618, Jahangir recorded that he presented him with 239

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Figure 10.2  A Youth with Swans and Rabbits, Bijapur, c. 1600–15. Folio from the Minto Album (Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, In 07A.17).

‘a jeweled urbasī (‫)اوربسی‬, an ornament that they wear around the neck in that land.’41 This was perhaps the same ‘jeweled urbasī’ that had reached the Mughal court just over a year earlier, in June 1617, as an offering from Mahabat Khan, one of Jahangir’s generals in the Deccan.42 The earlier account of the Mughal envoy Asad Beg also includes an important reference to a Bijapuri necklace pendant. During his 1604 visit to Bijapur, Asad Beg purchased a ‘dugdugi [Hindi, dhukdhukī] of Yaqut set in emeralds and valued at Rs. 25,000’ to present to Akbar.43 Although Asad Beg described this pendant with the word dhukdhukī, we can assume that it was comparable to the urbasī later identified by Jahangir.44 Several of the paintings discussed above provide a general idea of the appearance of a dhukdhukī or urbasī: a large, typically circular pendant inset with various types of jewels, encircled by small pearls, and worn relatively low on the chest.45 This pendant is clearly visible in an exemplary Bijapuri painting known as A Youth 240

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with Swans and Rabbits (Chester Beatty Library) (Fig. 10.2).46 Along with his gold cloths, the youth’s urbasī resolutely confirms his Bijapuri identity. In marked contrast to the four portraits of Ibrahim described above, the majority of portraits of the ruler depict him solely wearing rudraksha beads and discreet gold bracelets and rings. When the ruler’s wealth is suggested, it is typically implied by his gold cloths and the presence of royal elephants. A comparison of these paintings with the four examples discussed previously stimulates an important question: why do some portraits of Ibrahim portray him as a conspicuous wearer and possessor of jewels while others seem to deliberately disassociate the ruler from such wealth? To date, it has been argued that Ibrahim’s wearing of rudraksha beads expressed his growing interest in Hindu asceticism and hence his disdain for jewellery.47 Paintings such as Ibrahim walking with attendants suggest, however, that jewels and rudraksha beads were far from antithetical in Ibrahim’s mind. An additional explanation for the varied role of jewels in Ibrahim’s visual identity is stimulated by de Coutre’s account of Bijapur’s fragile political situation. In his final tirade against Ibrahim (1619), de Coutre describes how the Idalcán was constantly forced to offer el Mogor gifts of rarity in order to preserve his kingdom’s relative sovereignty. Jewels served as a key form of appeasement, and ‘as soon as el Mogor would come to know that he (Ibrahim) had a precious jewel or something of great value, he would ask for it, and he (Ibrahim) would send it.’48 In his later chapter concerning Agra, in which he positions the kings of India and other lands as Jahangir’s tributaries, de Coutre repeats a similar statement. He writes, ‘Upon knowing that some of them have a precious jewel or some good elephants, or some piece of great esteem, he asks them to send it with their ambassadors. And in order not to make war and put themselves in risk of losing their lands, they send everything that is demanded of them.’49 De Coutre’s discussion of prized jewels as tribute from inferior khāns to el Mogor is not necessarily a novel revelation.50 This acknowledged, his description of a continually threatened Bijapur ruled by an exploited khān, rather than shāh, stands at odds with images of the city and ruler that have circulated in scholarship since the early twentieth century. Since the 1930s, Ibrahim has often been characterized as a ‘tolerant,’ ‘pleasure-seeking,’ ‘innocent,’ ‘gentle’ ‘Akbar of the south,’ who was ‘frivolous in war.’51 This romanticization of the ruler has been in large part perpetuated by the English translation of the Sih Nathr in 1930. This trilogy of ornate panegyric was composed by Muhammad Zuhur bin Zuhuri (d. 1616), who described Bijapur as an ‘elixir of mirth and pleasure’ and Ibrahim as one who ‘in affection surpassed all lovers.’52 To be sure, Bijapur was certainly a spectacular site of gaiety for much of Ibrahim’s reign. This is confirmed by de Coutre’s accounts of leisurely garden outings, fantastic 241

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elephant fights, and perfumed nights in the zenāna.53 De Coutre’s Vida simultaneously suggests, however, that the Sih Nathr-inspired image of Bijapur and Ibrahim must be balanced with further investigation of the historical realities that plagued both city and ruler. According to de Coutre, the most considerable reality was the omnipresent el Mogor. This begs the following questions: what exactly was the nature of Ibrahim’s relationship with his Mughal contemporaries, and to what extent, if any, did these political circumstances impact Bijapur’s visual culture? De Coutre’s various encounters with Ibrahim between 1604 and 1619 coincided with a period of heightened diplomacy between Ibrahim and his Mughal contemporaries.54 Mughal expansion into the Deccan had begun in the 1590s, and by 1600, Mughal forces had conquered Ahmadnagar Fort and its immediate surroundings.55 As noted previously, during this period of attempted conquest, the Mughals refused to address the Deccan’s rulers as shāh. From the account of Asad Beg, who was deployed to Bijapur in 1603 to finalize the marriage between Akbar’s son and Ibrahim’s daughter, to secure tribute (pīshkash), and to bring an earlier envoy (Mir Jamaluddin) back to court,56 we can appreciate the full range of practical and symbolic concessions that Ibrahim, as Adil Khān, was expected to make to Akbar.57 According to Asad Beg, Ibrahim declared himself a follower of Akbar’s tawḥīd-i ilāhī and even attempted to confiscate Asad Beg’s shast-i murīdī, a badge of discipleship symbolizing devotion to the Mughal emperor. Ibrahim was also forced to present a variety of precious rarities, including animals and jewelled objects, as pīshkash to Akbar. After securing Ibrahim’s beloved elephant Chanchal and a rare black Arabian horse named ‘Chini,’ Asad Beg further implored Ibrahim to give him jewels. The Bijapuri ruler responded that he had given away all of his jewels for the marriage of his daughter to Prince Daniyal. There was nothing left to offer, except for a few family jewels that he himself always wore. Asad Beg continued to appeal for jewels, and Ibrahim eventually relinquished a bejewelled vase-holder (kūzadūn), which his mother had gifted to him upon his accession.58 Asad Beg eventually departed Bijapur with these three rarities and other gifts unique to Bijapur, including a hūn-i Nauras coin. Upon Akbar’s death in October 1605, Jahangir and Ibrahim embarked on a twentytwo-year relationship that fluctuated between alliance and rivalry. Shortly after his accession in the autumn of 1605, Jahangir noted two territorial aspirations in his memoirs: The second goal was the completion of the half-finished affair of the Deccan. Since during my exalted father’s reign a bit of that territory had been subjugated, with God’s favor I would bring that kingdom totally under control and annex it to the realm.59 242

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Over the next two years, Malik Ambar emerged as Jahangir’s principal foe in the Deccan. In order to isolate and subdue the Habshi leader, Jahangir frequently cultivated alliances with Bijapur. Ibrahim, in turn, sought to appease Jahangir through verbal diplomacy and gift-giving while simultaneously supporting Malik Ambar, who remained the Deccan’s strongest bulwark against complete Mughal domination. While pledging his allegiance to Jahangir via a series of letters exchanged with his general, Mirza Aziz Koka, Ibrahim concurrently provided troop support to Malik Ambar, which facilitated his reconquest of Ahmadnagar Fort in October 1610.60 Ibrahim’s verbal posturing must have been especially persuasive, for, by December 1611, Jahangir recorded that the Bijapuri khān had ‘regretted his former shortcomings and was now in a state of obedience.’61 In late 1614, Ibrahim’s first envoy to Jahangir, Bakhtar Khan Kalawant, arrived at the emperor’s encampment at Ajmer. Bakhtar Khan was a talented Bijapuri musician and singer, and during his four-month stay in Ajmer, Jahangir records that ‘he spent his evenings in my retinue and sang the dhurpats the Adil Khan had invented, which go by the name of nauras.’62 While at Ajmer, Bakhtar Khan’s portrait was painted, and this small image was subsequently assembled into the so-called Gulshan Album (Muraqqa‘-i Gulshan), an album Figure 10.3  Portrait of Bakhtar Khan Kalawant, Mughal that originally consisted of at least India, c. 1614. Folio from the Salim/Jahangir Album one hundred and eighty folios and (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Orientabteilung, Libr. pict. A117, which I henceforth refer to as the fol. 4b) (photograph by the author, reproduced with the kind permission of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin). Salim/Jahangir Album (Fig. 10.3).63 243

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Jahangir inscribed the portrait on its right edge, ‘1023, portrait of Bakhtar Khan Kalawant, who is the son-in-law of Adil Khan, came to Ajmer and waited on me.’64 Not surprisingly, like his father before him, Jahangir employed the less august title of Adil Khān to describe Ibrahim.65 In October 1616, Prince Khurram arrived at Burhanpur to command the Mughal forces and soon sought Bijapur’s commitment in the fight against Malik Ambar. Khurram’s solicitations were evidently successful, for – by March 1617 – the prince’s envoys to Bijapur, Afzal Khan and Rai-Raian, reported that Ibrahim offered his full support and alliance and guaranteed that the territories that had left the control of the friends of the empire would all be wrenched from the grasp of the wretched Ambar and restored to the emperor’s servants.66 Four months later, the keys to Ahmadnagar were once again surrendered to imperial forces. To celebrate this momentous victory, Bakhtar Khan and a second repeat envoy, Sayyid Kabir, were redeployed to the Mughal court. They first travelled to Burhanpur, where they offered gifts to Khurram, and they then accompanied the prince to Jahangir’s temporary court at Mandu. The October 1617 reunion between Jahangir and his victorious son at Mandu is documented in a c. 1640 double-page composition from the Pādshāhnāma manuscript entitled Jahangir Receives Prince Khurram on His Return from the Deccan (Windsor Castle).67 The painting seamlessly complements Jahangir’s description of the event in his memoirs: I summoned him [Khurram] up into the jharoka, and, out of sheer love and yearning, I involuntarily rose from my place and embraced him… Because there was not enough time for him to display his offerings [pīshkashhā-yi khūd] for my view, at this time he showed only the elephant Sirnag, the finest of the elephants of the Adil Khan’s offerings, and a small chest of precious gems.68 In the Windsor painting, Jahangir and his son embrace in the upper left, while in the lower left, the Mughal envoys Afzal Khan and Rai-Raian, along with at least two Deccani envoys identifiable by their elongated turbans, carry trays filled with bejewelled gifts.69 In the lower right, the elephant Sirnag is presented by a hitherto unidentified mahout who raises his right hand in submission. This mahout is in fact Bakhtar Khan, for he has the same angular features, dark complexion and lengthy turban sash as in the Berlin 244

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portrait (see Fig. 10.3). Nearly three years had passed since Bakhtar Khan’s first mission to Ajmer, but he clearly remained the favoured Bijapuri envoy at the Mughal court. On 22 October 1617, the recently promoted Shahjahan presented his remaining Deccani offerings to Jahangir. Ibrahim’s gifts included a sapphire (‘no sapphire so large or valuable with such good color and brilliance had been seen’), the so-called Jamkura diamond, an emerald (‘…from a new mine, it is of extremely good color and valuable. Until now nothing like it has been seen’) and two pearls, one of which was ‘perfectly round and flawless.’70 Approximately a year later, in September 1618, Jahangir dismissed Bakhtar Khan and Sayyid Kabir and presented the envoys with gifts, including the previously mentioned ‘jeweled urbasī.’71 He further recorded in his memoirs that since the Adil Khan had repeatedly conveyed requests through my son Shah Jahan for me to send him a likeness [shabīh] of myself, I sent him one along with an expensive ruby… On the portrait [shabīh] I wrote the following quatrain with my own hand: ‫ای سوی تو دایم نظر رمحت ما آسوده نشین به سایه دولت ما‬ ‫سوی تو شبیه خویش کردیم روان تا معنی ما بینی از صورت ما‬ Our merciful glance is always in your direction / Rest assured in the shadow of our felicity We have sent you our likeness / So that you may see our inner self through our external appearance.72 This message must have been received as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, Jahangir continued to subordinate Bijapur within the ‘shadow’ of Mughal ‘felicity.’ On the other, he expressed his favourable disposition towards the Deccani kingdom.73 This latter sentiment was confirmed by a verbal message of ‘good news,’ which was to be presented firsthand by Hakim Khushhal, the Mughal envoy dispatched to Bijapur with Sayyid Kabir and Bakhtar Khan. This ‘good news’ was that Ibrahim was now considered ‘chief and commander of the entire realm of the Deccan’ and was free to conquer Nizam Shahi lands as he saw fit.74 Ibrahim’s elevated position in Jahangir’s eyes roughly coincided with de Coutre’s 1619 tirade against the Bijapuri ruler. Although de Coutre’s relationship with Ibrahim ended in 1619, the political duet between Ibrahim and Jahangir continued for another eight years. From this point forward, Bijapur and the Mughals remained relatively consistent allies in the fight against Malik Ambar. The central Bijapuri envoy of this 245

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final stage of diplomacy was Mulla Muhammad Lari, whose portrait was painted by Hashim.75 Ibrahim’s alliance with the Mughals eventually proved disastrous, for Malik Ambar killed many of his best courtiers, including Mulla Muhammad, and burned his beloved city of Nauraspur in 1624. Three years later, within a span of a month in the autumn of 1627, Jahangir and Ibrahim both died. At least three important conclusions can be drawn from the complex political history outlined above. First, diplomatic efforts between Ibrahim and his Mughal contemporaries were filtered through a narrow group of repeat envoys who were favoured by both sender and receiver. Bakhtar Khan is a case in point, and in many respects, the visual history of this ambassador complements that of the far more wellknown emissary between Jahangir and Shah Abbas, Khan Alam. Second, while the principal task of the Bijapuri envoy was to present el Mogor with gifts of rarity, most notably jewels and elephants, the Mughal envoy in turn was expected to negotiate for and subsequently collect such offerings. As Asad Beg’s 1604 account and the 1617 Mandu presentation suggest, the Mughals secured many of their best jewels and bejewelled objects through diplomatic missions exchanged with Bijapur. This reality has implications for the designation of bejewelled objects in collections across the globe as either Mughal or Deccani. Third, the history of Mughal-Adil Shahi diplomacy was documented in a variety of visual arts, from commemorative coins to Pādshāhnāma paintings to portraits of envoys. For the remainder of this paper, I focus on arguably the most compelling corpus of images produced in the context of the Jahangir-Ibrahim duet: the gifted royal portrait. Throughout his lifetime, as both prince and emperor, Jahangir collected a variety of portraits into his personal albums (muraqqa‘s). In addition to amassing portraits of others, Jahangir also sent his own image to allies and rivals, including the Deccani khāns. As discussed above, in September 1618, Jahangir sent his portrait to Ibrahim, and in May 1619, he sent his ‘likeness’ (shabīh) to Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah (r. 1611–26).76 Although the portraits that Jahangir gifted to these Deccani rulers are either lost or have yet to be identified, at least one portrait that can be considered a direct gift from Ibrahim to Jahangir remains extant. Ibrahim Reading (Golestan Palace Library, Tehran) is one of five portraits of the Bijapuri ruler by the itinerant Persian artist Farrukh Husayn,77 who migrated to the Deccani city in c. 1596 and returned to the Mughal court no later than December of 1609, at which time Jahangir presented him with a gift of 2,000 rupees (Fig. 10.4).78 Unlike Farrukh Husayn’s four other portraits of the Bijapuri ruler, Ibrahim Reading has been reproduced only once and has received little scholarly attention.79 A central aim of the discussion to follow is therefore to offer the first in-depth analysis of the painting. 246

Figure 10.4  Ibrahim Adil Shah II Offering Obeisance to Jahangir. By Farrukh Husayn (Farrukh Beg), Bijapur, c. 1605. Folio from the Salim/Jahangir Album (Golestan Palace Museum, Tehran, no. 1663, fol. 87).

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Ibrahim Reading is one of only two contemporary portraits of Ibrahim that remains intact on its early-seventeenth-century album folio. Like the well-known Ibrahim Playing the Tambur (Náprstek Museum), also by Farrukh Husayn (Fig. 10.5), it was assembled into the Salim/Jahangir Album. However, whereas the Prague painting is surmounted by two European engravings, the Tehran portrait is the only image on the page. The depiction of Ibrahim also varies considerably between the two works. In the Prague portrait, Ibrahim’s iconography closely parallels his own textual description of himself in his Kitāb-i Nauras, and the painting’s background includes the Bijapuri cityscape and a pair of elephants presumed to be Ibrahim’s favourites.80 In contrast, in the Tehran image, the ruler sits atop a throne in a gold-filled landscape that, although stunning, is timeless and devoid of specificity. Furthermore, Ibrahim’s seated pose, with one arm raised across his body and the opposite elbow pitched forward, is far from unique, but instead based on Safavid formulas that resonated at Islamic Indian courts. Indeed, it immediately recalls the noble youths of Riza Abbasi and Abu’l Hasan.81 As in many of these Safavid and Mughal examples, Ibrahim holds what resembles a safīna, or oblong album, which ostensibly hints at his erudition and princely status. Closer inspection of the Tehran painting does, in fact, firmly situate the image within a specifically Bijapuri pictorial context. First, Ibrahim’s nails are Figure 10.5  Ibrahim Adil Shah II Playing the Tambur. By painted red (see his thumbs), as Farrukh Husayn (Farrukh Beg), Bijapur, c. 1605–9. Folio from described in the Kitāb-i Nauras the Salim/Jahangir Album (Náprstek Museum, Prague, A. and also visible in the Prague 12182; courtesy of the National Museum – Náprstek Museum, painting. Second, the ruler’s Prague, Czech Republic). 248

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Figure 10.6  Youth Reading in a Grove. By Muhammad Ali, Mughal India, c. 1610 (Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., F1953.93).

clothing and the handling of his face recall a third portrait by Farrukh Husayn, Ibrahim Hawking.82 Both in it and in the Tehran images, Ibrahim’s pale face is accented with dark shadow and pink highlights, and he wears a pink robe decorated with gold rosettes, an elaborate turban sash and a gold patka. In terms of pose, the Tehran portrait is most closely related to a c. 1610 Jahangiri painting known as Youth Reading in a Grove (Freer Gallery of Art) (Fig. 10.6).83 Consider, for example, the placement of the arms, the tilt of the head, the fluttering ends of the robe, and the discrete passages of revealed fur. The artist of the Washington 249

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painting, Muhammad Ali – as identified in the lower border ascription written by Jahangir himself – worked in a pseudo-Bijapuri style highly influenced by Farrukh Husayn (or Farrukh Beg, as he was known at the Mughal court). Muhammad Ali may have modelled Youth Reading in a Grove on Ibrahim Reading, which he presumably would have seen within Jahangir’s milieu (recall that Ibrahim Reading was collected into the Salim/Jahangir Album). Whereas Muhammad Ali’s youth holds a nearly closed book, whose inner contents only he can see, Ibrahim tilts his safīna in order to allow an unobstructed view of its inscribed surface. This inscription, which to date has neither been translated into English nor analysed, reads (Fig. 10.7): ‫دولت آن رس که برو پای تست‬ ‫خبت در آن دل که درو جای تست‬ Dawlat-i ān sar ki barū pāy-i tust bakht dar ān dil ki darū jāy-i tust. Fortunate is that head, on which your foot rests; luck [is] in that heart in which there is room for you.84 This couplet is not a random verse of poetry. Rather, it is a distich from Nizami’s Makhzan al-asrār (Treasury of Mysteries, c. 1176), the first of the poet’s five renowned mathnawīs, which was dedicated to Fakhruddin Bahram Shah.85 Although the opening words of each hemistich are slightly modified in modern editions of the Khamsa,86 an examination of seventeenth-century copies of the Makhzan al-asrār reveals that the couplet inscribed on the painting is consistent with the one that circulated in Ibrahim’s contemporary Indian context.87 As in the painting, these early modern versions of the couplet begin with the word dawlat. The couplet in question appears in a discourse that eulogizes the king and is entitled Khiṭāb-i zamīn būs (literally, ‘earth-kissing discourse’; or variously Dar khiṭāb-i zamīn būs farmāyad or Dar zamīn būs farmāyad), which implies the act of kissing the earth beneath the ruler’s foot.88 The distich that immediately precedes the one in question describes how the king’s sword rests above the crown (tāj) of others, and he is therefore justified in demanding tribute (kharāj). This original context suggests that, during the early seventeenth century, the inscription in the Tehran portrait would have been understood as far more than a neutral or arbitrary example of Persian poetry. Indeed, I suggest that Ibrahim adopted, and 250

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Figure 10.7  Detail of Ibrahim Adil Shah II Offering Obeisance to Jahangir. By Farrukh Husayn (Farrukh Beg), Bijapur, c. 1605. Folio from the Salim/Jahangir Album (Golestan Palace Museum, Tehran, no. 1663, fol. 87).

slightly modified, Nizami’s couplet in order to convey his own pledge of obeisance to Jahangir. The fact that Ibrahim tilts his safīna in order to facilitate its reading by a viewer outside the painting further supports this hypothesis. In the first hemistich, Ibrahim implies that his head is literally below Jahangir’s foot. In other words, the Bijapuri khān bows before the Mughal emperor in a manner that echoes the title of Nizami’s discourse. Despite his acknowledged position of inferiority, Ibrahim describes himself as fortunate (dawlat), for only the heart that has room for Jahangir remains lucky, or fortunate. In other words, only by pledging one’s allegiance 251

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to Jahangir, only by acknowledging one’s subordinate position within his ‘shadow of felicity,’ can one secure peace and prosperity. This interpretation of the couplet stimulates a rethinking of the title hitherto assigned to the painting, Ibrahim Reading. Indeed, Ibrahim is not enjoying a leisurely read of poetry assembled into his safīna. Instead, he is presenting a self-effacing and politically charged message to Jahangir. I therefore propose that the painting be retitled, Ibrahim Offering Obeisance to Jahangir. This portrait serves as further concrete evidence that diplomacy between Ibrahim and Jahangir occurred not only in letters and farmāns, but also on the surfaces of paintings. The portrait thus functioned as a message board on which political hierarchies between khān and pādshāh were clearly defined. While Ibrahim described himself as fortunate beneath Jahangir’s foot (dawlat-i ān sar ki barū pāy-i tust) in the Tehran portrait of c. 1605, Jahangir encouraged Ibrahim to rest assured in the shadow of Mughal felicity (āsūda nishīn ba-sāya-i dawlat-i mā) in his gifted portrait of 1618. The use of portraiture to convey political messages was certainly not unique to the Jahangir-Ibrahim case study. Rather, this particular combination of text and image was a common leitmotif in Jahangiri painting, and the Tehran portrait must therefore be contextualized within broader pictorial traditions.89 A contemporary counterpart can be found in the so-called Salim Album of c. 1600–5. In A Noble with a Petition (Chester Beatty Library) (Fig. 10.8), the subject holds a large placard with the following legible inscription: In body I am deprived of the felicity (dawlat) of your retinue but the salvation of my soul lies in the dust of your threshold As translated and interpreted by Wheeler Thackston, this noble has clearly fallen from his superior’s favour and hopes to be restored into his retinue.90 The intended recipient of the noble’s plea was none other than Jahangir himself, for the painting was assembled into an album created for the ruler while he was still a prince. The similarities between A Noble with a Petition and Ibrahim Offering Obeisance to Jahangir are compelling. Like Ibrahim, the noble pledges his devotion on a prominently displayed surface within his own portrait. Both petitioners likewise use similar language in their respective couplets. Most notably, felicity (dawlat) is repeated.91 Imagery that echoes the Tehran Ibrahim is also widespread in the Salim/Jahangir Album itself, particularly in its figural borders. The lower edge of one figural border, now preserved in Berlin, depicts a man in a wool cap seated before a princely 252

Figure 10.8  A Noble with a Petition, Mughal India, c. 1600–5. Folio from the Salim Album (Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, In 41.1).

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Figure 10.9  Dervish with a Book before a Prince, Mughal India, early seventeenth century, detail of a figural border from the Salim/Jahangir Album (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Orientabteilung, Libr. pict. A117, fol. 16a) (photograph by the author, reproduced with the kind permission of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin).

figure (Fig. 10.9). The open book next to the seated man contains an inscription that reads, ‘I am a poor dervish and do not dare compare my felt wool hat with your royal throne’ (Darwīsh-am gidā; barābar namīkunam pashmī kula-i khwīsh ba-awrang-i khusrawī).92 Like the couplet in the Ibrahim portrait, this inscription is far from arbitrary but rather conveys the petitioner’s subordinate position in relation to his superior, who actually sits directly in front of him in this instance. Additional figural borders include scenes of courtiers bowing before the feet of princes in modes that literally visualize the first hemistich of Ibrahim’s couplet to Jahangir (‘fortunate is that head on which your foot rests’).93 These examples, culled from albums prepared for Jahangir when he was both prince and emperor, suggest that Ibrahim’s visual pledge of obeisance would have been readily understood by Jahangir. Ultimately, then, the Tehran portrait must be positioned as a diplomatic image carefully crafted specifically for Jahangir. It was then deliberately assembled into the emperor’s album, where it likely served as a constant reminder to Jahangir of his political supremacy. A certain level of enigma will always surround Ibrahim Offering Obeisance to Jahangir. For example, we may never know when, how and via whom it reached the Mughal court and was assembled into the Salim/Jahangir Album.94 Furthermore, until this album is published in full, it will be impossible to know how the portrait was appreciated in relation to its facing image, which likely inspired the slight expansion of its lower edge. These current enigmas acknowledged, Ibrahim Offering Obeisance to 254

Figure 10.10  Portrait of Ibrahim Adil Shah II. By Hashim, Mughal India, c. 1620 (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,

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Jahangir sheds valuable insight into Ibrahim’s approach to self-representation within the shadow of Jahangir’s felicity. The painting treads a fine line between flattering Ibrahim and presenting him in a non-threatening light. In one respect, he is an idealized and youthful ruler who is able to subtly extrapolate canonical Persian verse. In the other, he offers a clear message of political submission, allows his sword to rest inactively on his lap, and wears no jewellery. Since Ibrahim was expected to supply his biggest and best jewels to Jahangir, a mode of portraiture that depicted him flaunting jewels, in the manner of the Harrowby or Victoria and Albert examples (see Fig. 10.1), would have been an early-seventeenth-century form of ‘political suicide.’ Reading Ibrahim-era painting through the lens of bejewelled adornment, or through the eyes of Jacques de Coutre, results in a series of intriguing conclusions. First, the role of jewels in Ibrahim’s visual identity was contingent on specific circumstances, some of which had nothing to do with the ruler’s religious inclinations. In the case of the diplomatic portrait gifted to Jahangir, the diminishment of bejewelled wealth was necessitated by Bijapur’s fragile political reality. This examination of the function of painting in Mughal-Adil Shah diplomacy therefore confirms that the study of Ibrahim-era portraiture must account for questions of audience and intention, for the ruler’s image at home was significantly different from that which circulated abroad. Second, it appears that Bijapur was known for specific forms of bejewelled adornment, specifically the urbasī. In addition to identifying the urbasī as a popular Bijapuri fashion, we can perhaps advance the argument a step further and posit that the pendant was specifically linked to Ibrahim.95 A late-seventeenth-century painting entitled The House of Bijapur supports this hypothesis, for Ibrahim is unique in his wearing of an urbasī.96 Although Ibrahim’s successor, Muhammad Adil Shah (r. 1627–56), is often depicted wearing an urbasī, it seems likely that the pendant developed as a popular fashion during Ibrahim’s reign, as evidenced by Jahangir’s words and innumerable paintings. In his final account of Bijapur, Jacques de Coutre paints a decidedly dismal image of Ibrahim: And after he found himself without a treasure and poor, he became a tyrant and killed his own legitimate sons, and his oldest wife, and he never used to leave his court, and only very infrequently even went out from his palace.97 While this textual portrait of Ibrahim is at odds with the many flattering Bijapuri images of the ruler discussed throughout this paper, it is in fact complemented by a Mughal painting of Ibrahim. Hashim’s Portrait of Ibrahim Adil Shah II (Metropolitan Museum of Art) (Fig. 10.10) successfully conveys Ibrahim’s troubled ‘inner self ’ 256

vida de jacques de coutre

(ma‘nī) through his ‘external appearance’ (ṣūrat), to borrow Jahangir’s words. Ibrahim is now a middle-aged frail figure. His skin echoes de Coutre’s description of being ‘a little brown… like a gypsy,’ and dark circles are visible beneath heavy-set, seemingly saddened eyes. This painting of Ibrahim, like de Coutre’s 1619 description, captures a ruler who must have been steadily demoralized by constant warfare and political posturing. This was a ruler who had seen, or was about to see, the destruction of his beloved Nauraspur. Through the words of de Coutre, and the paintings of Hashim and Farrukh Husayn – especially Ibrahim Offering Obeisance to Jahangir (see Figs. 10.4, 10.7) – a picture emerges of a politically savvy ruler whose ‘job description’ entailed far more than attending elephant fights, composing songs and entertaining guests. These texts and images further reveal that the visual culture of Bijapur – to include Nauraspur, royal portraiture, and bejewelled objects – was at times significantly impacted by the city’s tenuous existence within el Mogor’s ‘shadow of felicity.’

Notes 1 An example in this volume is Deborah Hutton and Rebecca Tucker’s discussion of the letters written from Bijapur by the Dutch painter, Cornelius Claesz. Heda. 2 I am grateful to Sanjay Subrahmanyam for introducing me to the Vida in an independent study course at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the autumn of 2007 and for sharing his invaluable insight on this text, as well as several other primary sources mentioned throughout this essay. 3 Vida de Iaques de Couttre Natural de la Ciudad de Brugas Condado de Flandes Puesto en la Forma que está por Su Hijo Don Estevan de Couttre (Biblioteca Nacional de España, Madrid, ms. no. 2780). 4 I have used the Spanish edition. See Eddy Stols et al., Jacques de Coutre: Andanzas asiáticas (Madrid, 1991). For the mines, see Teotonia R. de Souza, ‘A New Account of the Diamond Mines of the Deccan,’ in Mediaeval Deccan History: Commemoration Volume in Honour of Purshottam Mahadeo Joshi, ed. A.R. Kulkarni et al. (Bombay, 1996), 123–34. For Agra, see Nuno Vassallo e Silva, ‘Precious Stones, Jewels and Cameos: Jacques de Coutre’s Journey to Goa and Agra,’ in Goa and the Great Mughal, ed. J. Flores and N. Vassallo e Silva (Lisbon, 2004), 116–33. For general accounts of de Coutre, see George Winius, ‘The Life of Jaques de Couttre: A Prime Source Emerges from the Shades,’ Itinerario 9/1 (1985), 137–44, and id., ‘Jewel Trading in Portuguese India in the XVI and XVII Centuries,’ Indica 25/1 (1988), 15–34. 5 Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Indo-Persian Travels in the Age of Discoveries, 1400–1800 (Cambridge, 2007), esp. 343–51. These authors also discuss de Coutre in their ‘The Deccan Frontier and Mughal Expansion,’ Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 47/3 (2004), 379–80.


The Visual World of Muslim India 6 For discussions of the Waqā’ī‘-i Asad Beg, see Purshottam Mahadeo Joshi, ‘Asad Beg’s Mission to Bijapur, 1603–1604,’ in Mahamahopadhyaya: Prof. D.V. Potdar Sixty-first Birthday Commemoration Volume, ed. S.N. Sen (Pune, 1950), 184–96; Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘Witnessing Transition: Views on the End of the Akbar Dispensation,’ in The Making of History: Essays Presented to Irfan Habib, ed. K.N. Panikkar et al. (New Delhi, 2000), 104–40; id., ‘A Place in the Sun: Travels with Faizi in the Deccan, 1591–1593,’ in Sources and time = Les Sources et le temps: A Colloquium, Pondicherry, 11–13 January 1997, ed. F. Grimal (Pondicherry, 2001), 269–72; and id., ‘Deccan Frontier,’ 380–87. 7 De Coutre was clearly aware that, within Bijapur itself, Ibrahim was referred to as Adil Shah. He wrote: ‘Vendí al Rey Idalcán, el qual se llamava Ibrahim ‘Adil Ša (ms. Hibran Ydalçá).’ Nevertheless, he consistently adopted the Mughal title, Idalcán (Adil Khan). Stols et al., Jacques de Coutre, 259. 8 In addition to describing the Deccani rulers as khāns, the Mughals also employed the title hākim. For references to the latter, see Alam and Subrahmanyam, ‘A Place in the Sun,’ 286 and id., ‘Witnessing Transition,’ 124. According to Basu, who cites the Basāṭīnu’s-Salāṭīn, the Mughals described the Bijapuri ruler as sulṭān, not khān, from 1648 forward. See K.K. Basu, ‘The Bijapur-Court Letters,’ Journal of the Bihar and Orissa Research Society 27 (1939), 255, n. 2. 9 See Hutton and Tucker in this volume. 10 Stols et al., Jacques de Coutre, 177. 11 Ibid., 181. 12 Ibid., 179–80. 13 Ibid., 183. De Coutre’s description of earrings ‘as big as the palm of a hand’ echoes images of women in the Bijapuri Pem Nem. See, for example, Princess with Court Women Playing Water Games, reproduced in Deborah Hutton, Art of the Court of Bijapur (Bloomington, IN, 2006), pl. 13. 14 Stols et al., Jacques de Coutre, 192. 15 De Coutre’s use of the term esclavo suggests that the noble in question was an African slave (habshī or ‘Abyssinian’). As further information is gleaned about the courtiers who populated Ibrahim’s court, it is likely that de Coutre’s titles can be linked to specific individuals. 16 Stols et al., Jacques de Coutre, 196. 17 Ibid., 197. 18 During one eighteen-month period, de Coutre staged nine trips from Bijapur to individual mines. Ibid., 280. 19 Ibid., 259, 268. 20 Ibid., 290. 21 Stols et al., Jacques de Coutre, 294. 22 Actually, Ibrahim ruled for 47 years (1580–1627), the first decade of which was characterized by a series of tumultuous regencies. De Coutre obviously wrote these comments long after his last visit to Bijapur in 1619.


vida de jacques de coutre 23 Stols et al., Jacques de Coutre, 296. For a more comprehensive summary of this section of the Vida, see Alam and Subrahmanyam, Indo-Persian Travels, 348–49. 24 Translation borrowed from Alam and Subrahmanyam, Indo-Persian Travels, 349. Stols et al., Jacques de Coutre, 296. 25 Ibid. 26 Stols et al., Jacques de Coutre, 298. 27 Ibid. 28 George D. Winius and Carrie C. Chorba, ‘Literary Invasions in La Vida de Jaques de Coutre: Do They Prejudice Its Value as an Historical Source?,’ in A Carreira da Índia e as rotas dos estreitos: actas do VIII seminário internacional de história Indo-Portuguesa (Angra do Heroísmo, 7 a 11 de Junho de 1996) ed. A.T. de Matos and L.F.F.R. Thomaz (Angra do Heroísmo, 1998), 709–19. 29 Winius and Chorba, ‘Literary Invasions,’ 710. 30 Ibid., 716. 31 These appendixes have been published in Benjamín Teensma, Como Remediar o Estado Da Índia, Jacques de Coutre (Leiden, 1989). 32 Indo-Persian Travels, 343. 33 Stols et al., Jacques de Coutre, 290. 34 I borrow the phrase used by Winius and Chorba, ‘Literary Invasions,’ 713. 35 In his final description of Ibrahim, de Coutre describes the zenāna (harén; ms.: aram) as ‘the house where the women are’ (la caza adonde estavan las mugeres). Stols et al., Jacques de Coutre, 298. 36 Stols et al., Jacques de Coutre, 197. 37 These sixteen portraits include: Bust Portrait of Ibrahim (The David Collection, Copenhagen, Inv. no. 105/2007), reproduced in The Indian Portrait: 1560–1860, ed. Rosemary Crill and Kapil Jariwala (London, 2010), 111, cat. no. 31; Ibrahim Walking with Attendants (private collection), reproduced in Mark Zebrowski, Deccani Painting (London, 1983), 75, no. 50; Ibrahim Feeding a Hawk (Earl of Harrowby Collection, Sandon Hall), reproduced in Zebrowski, Deccani Painting, 91, no. 67; Ibrahim Presenting a Necklace (Fig. 10.1) (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, IS 48–1956, fol. 1v), reproduced in Hutton, Art of the Court, 103, fig. 3.7; Ibrahim Holding Instruments (British Museum, London, ME OA 1937.4–10.02), reproduced ibid., pl. 22; Ibrahim Hawking (Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, E-14, folio 2r), reproduced ibid., pl. 20; Ibrahim Reading/Ibrahim Offering Obeisance to Jahangir (Fig. 10.4) (Golestan Palace Museum, no. 1663, fol. 87), reproduced in Badri Atabay, Fihrist-i muraqqa‘āt-i Kitābkhānah-i Ṣaltanatī (Tehran, 1974), facing page 350; Ibrahim Playing the Tambur (Fig. 10.5) (Náprstek Museum, Prague, inv. No. A 12 182), reproduced in Hutton, Art of the Court, pl. 21; Ibrahim Riding an Elephant with an Attendant (private collection), reproduced in Stuart Cary Welch, India! Art and Culture, 1300–1900 (New York, 1985), 291, no. 193; Ibrahim Riding an Elephant before a Grain Sower (former Babu Sitaram Sahu Collection, now lost), reproduced in Zebrowski, Deccani Painting, 98, no. 73; Ibrahim Visiting


The Visual World of Muslim India a Sufi Saint (British Museum, London, 1997.1108.01), reproduced in Hutton, Art of the Court, cover illustration and 104, fig. 3.8; Dervish Receiving a Visitor/Ibrahim Visiting a Majzūb (Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, ms. Douce Or.b.2, fol. 1r), reproduced in Andrew Topsfield, Paintings from Mughal India (Oxford, 2008), 51, no. 21; Ibrahim Walking (San Diego Museum of Art, 1990.440), reproduced in Zebrowski, Deccani Painting, 86, no. 63; Ibrahim Riding an Elephant under a Canopy (Victoria and Albert Museum, D 398–1885), reproduced in Arts of India, ed. John Guy and Deborah Swallow (London, 1990), 115, no. 94; Ibrahim in Procession with Four Elephants (private collection), reproduced in Sotheby’s, Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures, London, 10 October, 1988, lot 40; and Ibrahim Holding a Safīna and an Instrument (Goenka Collection), reproduced in B.N. Goswamy, Painted Visions: The Goenka Collection of Indian Paintings (New Delhi, 1999), 93, no. 71. These shortened descriptive titles are my own. All sixteen portraits are analysed in my dissertation entitled ‘A Collector and His Portrait: Book Arts and Painting for Ibrahim ‘Adil Shah II of Bijapur, r. 1580–1627’ (University of California, Los Angeles, May 2011). 38 I have argued elsewhere that, despite extensive overpainting, which has stimulated previous attributions to the mid-seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this painting is in fact an Ibrahim-era original. See Keelan Overton, ‘A Collector and His Portrait,’ Section 5.2; id., ‘‘Ali Riza (The Bodleian Painter),’ in Masters of Indian Painting, ed. Milo C. Beach et al., vol. 1 (Zürich, 2011), 379–80 (the painting is reproduced in colour as fig. 3); and id., ‘Maid Killing a Snake and Dervish Receiving a Visitor: A Re-examination of Bijapuri Masterpieces through the Lens of the Lucknow Copy,’ in Indo-Muslim Cultures in Transition, ed. Karen B. Leonard and Alka Patel (Leiden, 2012), 46–49; reproduced in colour ibid., pl. 3.3. 39 For an elaboration of this argument, see Overton, ‘A Collector and His Portrait,’ Section 5.2. For a colour reproduction of Ibrahim’s Consort Watching a Maid Killing a Snake, see Overton, ‘‘Alī Rizā,’ fig. 2. 40 See, for example, Jahangir Holding a Globe (Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, In 07A.5), reproduced in Elaine Wright, Muraqqa‘: Imperial Mughal Albums from the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin (Alexandria, VA, 2008), no. 37A. 41 The Jahangirnama: Memoirs of Jahangir, Emperor of India, ed. and tr. Wheeler M. Thackston (Washington, D.C., 1999), 276; hence: Jahangirnama (English). For the original Persian text, see Jahāngīrnāma: Tūzuk-i Jahāngīrī, ed. Muhammad Hashim (Tehran, 1359 SH/1980 CE), 276; hence: Jahangirnama(Persian).TheoriginalPersianreads:‫اوربسیمرصعکهاصلآنملکدرکردنمیآویزند‬.Platts’definition of urbasī reads, ‘Name of an Apsara or nymph of Indra’s heaven; an apparition, phantom; an ornament worn on the breast.’ John T. Platts, A Dictionary of Urdu, Classical Hindi, and English, University of Chicago online version, 38. 42 Jahangirnama (English), 220. 43 Joshi, ‘Asad Beg’s Mission,’ 193. I am grateful to Sanjay Subrahmanyam for providing the accurate transcription of Joshi’s dugdugi.


vida de jacques de coutre 44 Platts’ definition of dhukdhukī reads: ‘The hollow in the throat below the Adam’s apple; an ornament (as a small mirror set in gold or silver) worn round the neck.’ Platts, 545. 45 It should be noted that the circular urbasī in Ibrahim presenting a necklace (V&A; see Fig. 10.1) does not quite follow this model. It therefore seems that the pendant’s shape was subject to variation. 46 This painting was most recently published in Wright, Muraqqa‘, 354, no. 52. 47 Zebrowski, Deccani Painting, 76. 48 Stols et al., Jacques de Coutre, 297. 49 Ibid., 304. 50 For a more general discussion of pīshkash, see Ann K. Lambton, ‘“Pīshkash”: Present or Tribute?,’ Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 57/1 (1994), 145–58. 51 See, for example, Douglas Barrett, Painting of the Deccan, XVI-XVII century (London, 1958), 2 and Nirmala Joshi, ‘Preface,’ in Kitab-i-Nauras by Ibrahim Adil Shah II, ed. Ahmad Nazir (New Delhi, 1956), 1. 52 Muhammad Zuhur bin Zuhuri, Sih Nathr, in A History of Persian Language and Literature at the Mughal Court, ed. and tr. Muhammad Abdul Ghani (Allahabad, 1930), vol. 3, appendixes A-C, 329. It is possible that some of the poems in this trilogy, in particular the Gulzār-i Ibrāhīm, were coauthored by Zuhuri and his father-in-law and mentor, Malik Qummi. See Overton, ‘A Collector and His Portrait,’ 11 and 26–27. 53 Asad Beg also described festive Bijapuri streets filled with ‘pleasure-seekers.’ See Alam and Subrahmanyam, ‘Travels with Faizi,’ 271. 54 For an expansion of the argument to follow, see Overton, ‘A Collector and His Portrait,’ Section 4.2. The historical narrative presented here is based on Mughal sources, which provide a reliable chronology of Mughal-Adil Shahi diplomacy c. 1600–27. While future explorations of Bijapuri sources may nuance this narrative, the basic framework will likely remain the same. For accounts of this political history, see Riazul Islam, Indo-Persian Relations: A Study of the Political and Diplomatic Relations Between the Mughal Empire and Iran (Lahore, 1970), 92–96 and Ahmad, Kitab-i-Nauras, 7–11. 55 For further discussion of Mughal expansion into the Deccan, see Alam and Subrahmanyam, ‘The Deccan Frontier.’ 56 Alam and Subrahmanyam, ‘Witnessing Transition,’ 124. 57 My current analysis of Asad Beg’s account is drawn from Alam and Subrahmanyam, ‘Witnessing Transition,’ Joshi, ‘Asad Beg’s Mission,’ and my own reading of B.W. Chapman’s unpublished English translation (British Library, AD 30776). 58 I am grateful to Sanjay Subrahmanyam for providing clarity on this gift. Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, manuscript translation of Asad Beg. 59 Jahangirnama (English), 33. 60 For these letters, see Khursheed Nurul Hasan and Mansura Haider, ‘Letters of Aziz Koka to Ibrahim Adil Shah II,’ Proceedings of the Indian History Congress xxvii (1965), 161–67.


The Visual World of Muslim India 61 Jahangirnama (English), 126. 62 Ibid., 164–65. 63 For the most recent publication of the Bakhtar Khan portrait, see Susan Stronge, Made for Mughal Emperors: Royal Treasures from Hindustan (London, 2010), plate 83. 142 folios from the Salim/ Jahangir Album are preserved in the Golestan Palace Library, Tehran. The versos and rectos of 90 of these folios include nineteenth-century notations written in red ink over the rulings under the central field. These notations provide a page number followed by muraqqa‘-i Gulshan, which explains why the album is commonly referred to as the Gulshan Album. The second largest corpus of pages from the album (25) is preserved in Berlin (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin), and individual folios can also be studied in collections around the globe. Although the album is typically associated with Jahangir (r. 1605–27), and thus contrasted with the supposedly earlier Salim Album, Milo Cleveland Beach has argued that ‘the conception of this album and much of its assembly were completed before Jahangir came to the throne in 1605.’ See Milo Cleveland Beach, ‘Jahangir’s Album: Some Clarifications,’ in Arts of Mughal India: Studies in Honour of Robert Skelton, ed. Rosemary Crill et al. (London, 2004), 117. For two other recent studies of the Gulshan Album, both of which title it as such, see Kambiz Eslami, ‘Golšan Album,’ in Encyclopaedia Iranica, ed. Ehsan Yarshater, vol. 11 (New York, 2003) and Susan Stronge, ‘The Gulshan Album, c. 1600–18,’ in Wright, Muraqqa‘, 77–81. My analysis of the Bakhtar Khan portrait builds upon the earlier work of Nazir Ahmad, ‘Jahangir’s Album of Art – Muraqqa-i-Gulshan and Its Two ‘Adilshahi Paintings,’ Indo-Iranica 30/1–2 (1977), 24–43. 64 Translation borrowed from Ahmad, ‘Jahangir’s Album of Art,’ 29. 65 Jahangir employed a similar formula in his inscription on Hashim’s later portrait of Ibrahim (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York); see the left edge of Fig. 10.10. 66 Jahangirnama (English), 216. 67 For the most recent reproduction of this painting, see Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts, ed. Linda Komaroff (Los Angeles and New Haven, 2011), cat. no. 33a-b, fig. 154. 68 Jahangirnama (English), 228; (Persian), 224. 69 These figures are identified in Milo Cleveland Beach and Ebba Koch, King of the World: The Padshahnama: an Imperial Mughal Manuscript from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle (London, 1997), 165. 70 Jahangirnama (English), 231. 71 Ibid., 276. 72 Ibid.; (Persian), 276. 73 Unfortunately, this particular portrait of Jahangir is either lost or has yet to be identified. 74 Jahangirnama (English), 276. 75 This painting (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is reproduced in Stuart Cary Welch et al., The Emperors’ Album: Images of Mughal India (New York, NY, 1988) no. 38. 76 Jahangirnama (English), 303.


vida de jacques de coutre 77 Since the artist is referred to as Farrukh Husayn in both the Bijapuri textual and visual record, I refer to him as such (rather than Farrukh Beg, as he was known at the Mughal court). For my analysis of the Farrukh Beg/Husayn debate, see Overton, ‘A Collector and His Portrait,’ Section 4.1. 78 Jahangirnama (English), 104. 79 I am sincerely grateful to Parvin Seghatoleslami, former Director of the Golestan Palace Library, for allowing me to study this painting in October 2009. For the only published reproduction of this painting, which has significantly muted its luminous palette, see Atabay, Fihrist-i muraqqa‘āt-i Kitābkhānah-i Saltanatī, facing page 350. The image itself is discussed ibid., 356 (no. 87) in a section devoted to Farrukh Beg. In the context of Farrukh Beg’s Bijapuri oeuvre, Ibrahim Reading was first introduced by John Seyller, ‘Farrukh Beg in the Deccan,’ Artibus Asiae 55/3–4 (1995), 338. Most recently, the painting has been discussed by Hutton, Art of Bijapur, 99–101. 80 For recent analyses of this iconography, see Hutton, Art of Bijapur, 101–2 and Navina Najat Haidar, ‘The Kitab-i Nauras: Key to Bijapur’s Golden Age,’ in Sultans of the South: Arts of India’s Deccan Courts, ed. Navina Najat Haidar and Marika Sardar (New York, 2011), 26–43. 81 See, for example, Riza’s Youth Reading (British Museum, ME 1920, 0917, 0.298.3), reproduced in Sheila R. Canby, Shah ‘Abbas: The Remaking of Iran (London, 2009), 53, no. 13, and Abu’l Hasan’s Youth with a Book (Arthur M. Sackler and Freer Gallery of Art, 07.161), reproduced in Esin Atil, The Brush of the Masters: Drawings from Iran and India (Washington, D.C., 1978), 114, no. 68. 82 Institute of Oriental Studies, St. Petersburg, E-14, fol. 2. 83 For the most recent discussion and reproduction of this painting, which also draws comparisons to ‘the artistic stock of Farrukh Beg,’ see John Seyller, ‘Muhammad ‘Ali,’ in Masters of Indian Painting, 282–84, fig. 3. 84 I offer my sincerest gratitude to Wheeler Thackston for confirming my interpretation of this couplet and for kindly allowing me to publish his translation. The couplet was first published by Atabay in her 1974 catalogue. See Atabay, Fihrist-i muraqqa‘āt, 356. Atabay’s original transcription included a few errors, which have been corrected here. The first hemistich should read ān sar (not īn sar) and barū (not bar rū), and the second hemistich should read ki darū (not ki darān). 85 I am grateful to Abdullah Ghouchani for helping me to identify the source of the Tehran couplet. 86 Consider, for example, the 1343 SH/1964 CE edition, in which the first hemistich begins with takhtbar (not dawlat), while the second hemistich opens with bakhtwar (not bakht dar). See Makhzan al-asrār, tr. Hasan Vahid Dastgirdi (Tehran, 1343 SH / 1964 CE), 34 (couplet no. 22). The couplet appears in the same form in the 1341 SH/1962 edition. See Kulliyāt-i khamsa (Tehran, 1341 SH/1962 CE), 28 (couplet no. 22). 87 The couplet is identical in an unillustrated, undated (likely seventeenth-century) and dilapidated copy of the Makhzan al-asrār preserved in the Bijapur Library; see British Library, B132, IO Islamic 3635, fol. 14r. For further information on this text, see Hermann Ethé, Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts in the Library of the India Office (London, 1980), no. 3061. The couplet also appears in the same form


The Visual World of Muslim India in the illustrated, dated (Bukhara, 1538) copy of the Makhzan al-asrār collected into the Mughal Royal Library and containing Mughal repainting dating to the reign of Jahangir, c. 1610–20; see Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, Supplément persan 985, fol. 16v (couplet no. 21). In this 1538 copy, couplet no. 8 of the modern editions has been omitted, which explains why the couplet in question is now couplet no. 21. For the Mughal scribal notations in this manuscript, see John Seyller, ‘The Inspection and Valuation of Manuscripts in the Imperial Mughal Library,’ Artibus Asiae 57/3–4 (1997), 336–37. 88 For an English translation of this discourse, see Gholam Hosein Darab, Makhzanol Asrār: The Treasury of Mysteries of Nezāmi of Ganjeh (London, 1945), 115–17. 89 The inscribing of safīnas, placards and petitons with pertinent historical material, to include political messages and artist’s statements or signatures, has a lengthy history at the Mughal court and in the broader Persian world. Consider, among many other examples, the famous Portrait of Mir Musawwir (Musée Guimet, Paris, inv. MA 3619 I,b) and the less well-known A Young Prince Riding (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2004–149–12). The latter image likely depicts a young Akbar and is discussed in a recent article on LACMA’s Salim/Jahangir Album page. See Laura E. Parodi et al., ‘Tracing the History of a Mughal Album Page in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,’ Asian Art, March 2010: 90 Wheeler M. Thackston, ‘Calligraphy in the Albums,’ in Wright, Muraqqa‘, 159–60. 91 The use of the term dawlat in inscriptions expressing fidelity was widespread in Salim’s studio. It is also visible in the borders flanking an additional painting in the Salim Album (Madonna and Child, Chester Beatty Library, In 44.4), in which Mary Magdalene anoints the feet of St. John the Baptist. For a reproduction, see Wright: Muraqqa‘, 267, no. 27. For further information on the pairing of text and image in the Salim Album, see Elaine Wright, ‘The Salim Album,’ in Wright, Muraqqa‘, 55–67. 92 I am grateful to Bruce Wannell for providing this translation. 93 Consider, for example, Calligraphy Page with Figural Border (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Libr. Pict. A117, fol. 2b), reproduced in Ernst Kühnel and Hermann Goetz, Indische Buchmalereien aus dem Jahangir Album der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin, 1924), 24 and Calligraphy Page with Figural Border (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Libr. Pict. A117, fol. 23b), unpublished. 94 For further speculation on these issues, see Overton, ‘A Collector and His Portrait,’ Section 4.2. 95 It should be noted that a handful of coeval Qutb Shahi paintings also feature the urbasī. Consider, for example, A King and Queen Enthroned, fol. 93r from the Dīwān of Sultan Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah (Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, Urdu Poetry Ms 153, discussed by Laura Weinstein in this volume: see Fig. 8.9). The ubiquity of the urbasī throughout the Deccan deserves further study. 96 For a discussion and colour reproduction of this image (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1982.213), see Zebrowski, Deccani Painting, 150, pl. xvii. 97 Translation borrowed from Alam and Subrahmanyam, Indo-Persian Travels, 349. See also Stols et al., Jacques de Coutre, 297.


11 Bidr i Wa r e a nd the New Mugh a l O r der 1 —Laura E. Parodi—


idri is a uniquely Indian type of metalware cast from a zinc-based alloy, whose surface is burnished and inlaid – usually with silver (more rarely with brass, gold or copper).2 Because of the connection with the town of Bidar (in northern Karnataka) implied in its name, Bidri is widely perceived as the quintessential Deccani art, but the origins of the technique are shrouded in mystery: Bidri is not mentioned in textual sources until as late as 17593 and none of the surviving pieces bear complete dates earlier than the nineteenth century.4 Based on a stylistic analysis of its decoration, which often includes naturalistic floral elements, scholars usually date the first substantial corpus of Bidri ware to the seventeenth century, when such motifs enjoyed great popularity.5 Some few pieces bearing more archaic-looking decoration have been tentatively ascribed to the sixteenth century,6 and the process to manufacture the distinctive zinc-based alloy is probably more ancient.7 Several books have been devoted to the art of Bidri, but they usually focus on specific collections; few indeed consider the origins of the craft. Susan Stronge’s Bidri Ware, regrettably out of print, is a notable exception: her discussion of select Victoria and Albert Museum pieces is preceded by what is to date the most accurate assessment of both the technique and its history.8 In the twenty-five years since the publication of Stronge’s book, Paul T. Craddock’s technical inquiries and excavation reports have significantly improved our understanding of the extraction procedures and the geographical provenance of the zinc used in manufacturing Bidri artefacts.9 Another major contribution was provided by Mark Zebrowski in his book on Indian metalware, while his earlier monograph on Deccani painting discussed some depictions of Bidri objects.10 My aim with this essay is to re-examine available evidence in 267

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order to suggest a more specific historical scenario and a revised dating for the rise of this charming craft.

The craftsmen’s lore: merely a myth? Our first and foremost source on the origins of Bidri ware is the craftsmen’s lore. Living practitioners of the art maintain the technique was introduced from Iran via Iraq and Ajmer to Bijapur, and thence to Bidar.11 Accounts associate Bidri both with Muinuddin Chishti, Ajmer’s charismatic Sufi saint (d. 1230),12 and with Alauddin Bahman Shah (r. 1436–57),13 second in a line of rulers who chose Bidar as their capital. These associations seem to reflect a desire to weave specific, personal narratives (preferably Sufi or royal) into the basic account; but the dates and geographical connections are not altogether incompatible with a broader historical reconstruction. Ajmer for example – or rather, Zawar in the Mughal ṣūba (administrative district) of Ajmer, in present-day Rajasthan – has been identified as the oldest site for the extraction of zinc, not only in India but in the entire world.14

Some technical issues Before any historical discussion, a few technical issues need to be clarified in order to explain what makes Bidri ware so unique. The body of Bidri artefacts is made up almost entirely of zinc, in a percentage approximating 90%.15 This can only be achieved by using metallic zinc; but in nature, being very reactive, zinc only occurs in association with other metals, such as lead and silver. Zinc is also extremely volatile, vaporizing at just 907°C, below the temperature at which it would be smelted. In simple shaft furnaces, other metals will collect at the bottom; but zinc vaporizes and goes up the flue to be lost as smoke. Controlling the temperature necessary to vaporize and quickly condense it before it escapes the furnace – thus obtaining metallic zinc – involves the use of special furnaces incorporating a distillation apparatus to condense the metal away from contact with air.16 It appears that by c. 1000 CE such furnaces were already employed in India; China followed suit around the seventeenth century.17 Small pieces of zinc may have been obtained as a by-product of lead smelting in antiquity,18 and methods to capture zinc vapour to obtain zinc oxide were devised at various stages in history (in India, possibly as early as the fourth century BCE).19 In Iran, zinc oxide became widespread from at least the eleventh century, as is testified by 268

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several textual references and a number of stunning brass objects.20 Zinc is an essential component of brass,21 and the pieces produced in Iran from c. 1100 CE onwards contain high percentages of it – though never significantly superior to 30%,22 in contrast to Bidri pieces. The methods used to extract zinc oxide from the sulphidic ores available in West Asia were themselves labour-intensive and resource-consuming.23 James Allan suggests the widespread use of brass in medieval Iran may have been prompted by the shortage of silver witnessed at the time.24 In Europe, a suitable method for obtaining metallic zinc, known today as speltering, was patented only with the advent of industrialization – most likely adapting the traditional Indian technique:25 as early as the twelfth century or possibly earlier, Sanskrit treatises describe the process in detail, along with the ‘aubergine-shaped’ retorts capable of capturing zinc vapour and condensing it at the correct temperature.26 The zinc ore used was sphalerite. The erection of temples at the cited site of Zawar in the fourteenth and fifteenth century suggests a period of florescence that may be explained as the result of an intensive extraction of metallic zinc; the mines then continued to be exploited until the nineteenth century.27 The site at Zawar is made up of huge mounds containing millions of spent retorts, each of which would have yielded some 25–50 kg of zinc per day.28 No other sources of metallic zinc besides Zawar appear to have been available in South Asia before the eighteenth century. If not from Zawar, the zinc may possibly have come from China, which had begun to extract and export metallic zinc in the seventeenth century. Either way, data imply we should review our perception of Bidri as merely a ‘local’ Deccani craft. One should carefully consider the historical circumstances that may have encouraged Deccani craftsmen to devise a technique based on a rare and presumably costly material imported from other regions. But first, a few more technical remarks will be useful. The characteristic inlaid black body of Bidri ware results from the intervention of several distinct craftsmen (or craftswomen, given that the trade seems to have traditionally been the purview of family ateliers).29 Once smelted and fashioned, the object’s surface is first darkened with copper sulphate, then a design is cut through the surface, highlighting a pattern that will serve as a guideline for the inlayer. A contrasting material – usually silver – is inserted into the cut surface; different techniques have been practised historically,30 but the best antique pieces usually have fairly deep inlays. A slick black finish for the background is eventually achieved by rubbing the surface with a special paste – whose composition varies from one manufacturing centre to another31 – and then with oil. By the early nineteenth century, Bidri ware was produced at such distant locations as Hyderabad in present-day Andhra Pradesh, 269

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Lucknow (now in Uttar Pradesh), Murshidabad and Purnea in Bengal;32 interestingly, though, the craftsmen of Hyderabad – originating in a migration of artists from Bidar – still regard the saltpetre-rich clay of Bidar Fort as an essential ingredient.33

Assessing the visual and material records Bidri ware is heavy and durable, even if easily broken due to its high zinc content. While the silver inlays oxidize rapidly and require constant care to retain their sheen, the burnished zinc body remains virtually intact even in fragmentarily preserved objects, offering no clues to a possible dating.34 Scholarly datings for the earliest substantial group of Bidri artefacts consequently rely on the style of their decoration – more specifically on the naturalistic flower plants featured on about a third of the published pieces. These closely recall the ornamentation popular in Mughal arts and architecture during the seventeenth century. Interestingly, such motifs were inspired by European herbals and were not traditional or even popular in the Deccan; their introduction by the mid-seventeenth century as a result of the Mughals’ increasing presence in the region is generally accepted, but it is assumed the motifs were grafted onto an existing manufacturing tradition. A close review of available evidence casts some doubts upon this reconstruction. Early Bidri pieces with floral decoration are usually dated to the 1650s or sometimes even the 1630s. This is done on the basis of three orders of evidence, none of which appears conclusive upon close scrutiny. Firstly, there is the cited similarity with motifs widely found in Mughal arts and crafts during the reign of Shahjahan (r. 1628–58), whose suzerainty the last Deccani rulers were forced to accept in 1636. But such naturalistic plant motifs remained popular in the Subcontinent for at least another century, making a precise dating difficult. A second purported piece of evidence are two dark-bodied hookahs (water-pipes) seen in paintings that portray respectively the Bijapur ruler Muhammad Adil Shah (r. 1627–56) and his son Ali Adil Shah II (r. 1656–72), to which I shall return in greater detail below. Although previously regarded as the earliest known depictions of Bidri objects, upon close scrutiny the said hookahs would not seem to be made of metal. Again upon careful reexamination, a third potential piece of evidence reveals itself as an instance of circular reasoning. This is a very fine globular hookah in the Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum (Fig. 11.1), whose bottom bears a Persian inscription in nasta‘līq. In a recent catalogue of the Museum’s collection, Jagdish Mittal provides the following transcription and translation: 270

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Figure 11.1  Bidri hookah base (Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum, Hyderabad, 76.1222. ME.1) (reproduced by kind permission).

…Ali in hookah tawaliya Mirza Najaf Ali mutawaliya nam-i karigar … sakin be qasba-i Udgir be tarikh-i Panjum Shahr-i Rabi al Sani Sana-i(10)44 murattab namud. …Ali this hookah property of Mirza Najaf Ali custodian… name of the craftsman… an inhabitant of the town of Udgir on the date of the fifth of the month of Rabi II of year (10) 44 (October 1634 AD) it was completed.35 As may be seen, only the last two figures of the date are legible and Mittal’s suggested reading as 1634 is merely conjectural. Only if we assume that similar pieces (none of which are inscribed) were made in the early seventeenth century does such a dating become possible in the first place.36 Clearly a more solid basis for the dating of Bidri ware needs to be found. In this respect, it is the material record that has perhaps not been explored in its full potential. The shapes and uses of Bidri are a case in point. Bidri comes in an endless variety of forms today (from tables to bracelets, from pen-cases to cigarette-boxes), but this was not necessarily the case in the past. Judging from available evidence, the technique seems to have scarcely if at all affected the manufacture of such traditional objects as lamp stands, incense burners or water containers. Particularly when related to religious prescriptions, such objects continued to be produced in familiar alloys, longestablished forms and centuries-old decorative motifs.37 One would be tempted to speculate that, being a late addition to South Asia’s highly developed and diversified 271

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Figure 11.2  Bidri hookah base (© Victoria and Albert Museum, London, I.S. 27–1980).

metalware traditions, Bidri ware met with some resistance at first; but there are other possibilities. The vast majority of antique Bidri pieces are hookahs (or more accurately, hookah bases – the main body of the object – the fittings having mostly been lost). Hookahs were themselves a novelty in the early seventeenth century. The earliest known Bidri specimens are globular in form (Figs. 11.1, 11.2, 11.3), with a round bottom meant to rest on a ring in imitation of traditional water-jugs (loṭa).38 Some few examples of such Bidri rings have also survived.39 The bell-shaped hookahs still in use today became common only later; of these too there remain several Bidri specimens (Fig. 11.4). 272

Figure 11.3  Bidri hookah base (private collection, London) (reproduced by kind permission).

Figure 11.4  Bidri hookah base (Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, EA1993– 14).

Figure 11.5  Two Bidri pāndāns. (Top: Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, EA1993.392. Bottom: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1996.3A,B.)

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Figure 11.6  Bidri tray or salver, c. 1675–1700. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 3/4 x13" (1.91x33.02 cm). Gift of Anna Bing Arnold and the Indian Art Special Purpose Fund, M.89.19 (© 2012. Digital Image Museum Associates/LACMA/Art Resource NY/Scala, Firenze).

The next most popular object would seem to be the pāndān – a container for the filled betel leaves that are customarily chewed at the end of meals (Figs. 11.5a, 11.5b);40 somewhat rarer is the associated spittoon.41 Both hookah- and pāndān-sets usually came in association with trays (Fig. 11.6), another popular (and often splendid) Bidri artefact. Known from fewer examples is the mīr-i farsh, used to keep floor textiles in place.42 All these objects are secular in nature and more specifically relate to pastimes that could be enjoyed individually, but were more often – and far more importantly – part 275

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of the prescribed social activities in the life of a cultivated Islamicate gentleman in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Fig. 11.7).43 In such contexts they were often used together: accordingly, a number of paintings – both Mughal and Rajput – display various combinations of them,44 although none features a complete Bidri set. The tradition of providing grooms with sets of Bidri accoutrements interestingly survives to this day;45 but antique Bidri artefacts are only exceptionally preserved in a matching pair,46 let alone a complete set. There is indeed no certainty that complete Bidri sets would have been feasible to procure (or afford) before the advent of industrialization. Visual evidence suggests that, before the mid-eighteenth century, sets of the cited objects were routinely made of brass or other alloys; among them would feature the occasional Bidri piece, possibly as a highlight.47 Bidri seems to have been a relatively expensive commodity; most of the zinc extracted at Zawar was probably employed for the manufacture of brass. Despite its rarity and beauty, though, Bidri would hardly have been deemed suitable for use by rulers. Evidence suggests a secular milieu of non-royal patrons, and it is this milieu that deserves a more detailed inquiry, based on both the visual and material records (actual Bidri pieces and depictions thereof ). The connection with tobacco – a New World plant that was both smoked in hookahs and chewed as an ingredient of pān – is especially interesting.

Reconsidering the dating of Bidri on the basis of the evolution of hookahs As mentioned, hookahs were themselves novel objects in the seventeenth century; during the first hundred years since their introduction around 1600 CE, they underwent considerable changes aimed at improving their functionality. By tracking these changes through textual and visual sources it is possible to refine the accepted chronology for the earliest group of preserved Bidri hookahs. Stylistic comparisons may then enable us to anchor the dating of other Bidri artefacts to the chronology thus established. The earliest and most widely reproduced textual record of hookahs in the Subcontinent dates from 1604 CE and points to the Deccan, more specifically to the Bijapur kingdom (which annexed Bidar in 1619), as the first recipient of the novel fashion. Hookahs were initially used for smoking tobacco, a New World product that had been introduced by the Portuguese; Bijapur, a close neighbour to the Portuguese enclave at Goa and always receptive of innovations,48 seems to have provided a sizeable market for tobacco at a time when water-pipes were still fairly rudimentary. In his memoirs, the Mughal dignitary Asad Beg Qazwini – whom Akbar (r. 1556–1605) 276

Figure 11.7  Portrait of Abul Ghaffar Khan Bahadur. Mughal, c. 1690 (San Diego Museum of Art, 1990:450).

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had sent as envoy to the Adil Shahi court – recalls his first encounter with tobacco.49 It was he who introduced the Mughal court to the novel substance50 – although his attempt to win Akbar over to the new ‘medicine’ was unsuccessful because the court physician pronounced himself against its use. It was not until the eighteenth century that the Mughal rulers themselves developed a taste for the water-pipe.51 Asad Beg had better luck with fellow courtiers, who vied with each other to appropriate one of the numerous hookah specimens he had brought back with him.52 His hookah gift for Akbar was painstakingly assembled from disparate materials that were evidently deemed worthy of a ruler: the mouthpiece was fashioned from a precious Yemeni stone, and the reed most likely came from Aceh in Indonesia. The body itself, of unspecified shape and material, is described as ‘bejewelled’ (muraṣṣa‘). The passage suggests hookahs were not produced in specialized workshops at the time, but assembled from distinct and separately procured components. This is confirmed by visual evidence: a coconut shell was typically adapted by fitting the top or neck, respectively, with a chilam. Occasionally, some other container could be modified for this use: a famous example from Safavid Iran is the portrait of Nashmi the Archer painted by Riza Abbasi in Isfahan in 1031 H/1621–22 CE,53 where the sitter is shown smoking a pipe made from a rectangular glass bottle painted with the face of a youth, [being] a miniature version of a well-known type of Dutch gin bottle known to have been exported to the east, […] probably blown and decorated in India or Iran after Dutch originals.54 At this early stage, smoke was inhaled through a long and stiff natural reed that had to be inserted at an angle by drilling a hole into the body of the container. This solution was not entirely satisfactory aesthetically and even less desirable functionally: the stiffness of the reed had to be compensated for manually, either by the smoker himself or by an attendant. The term muraṣṣa‘ found in Asad Beg’s account could easily refer to a mount rather than the whole object. This is supported by the earliest known depiction of a Mughal hookah: a painting showing the Safavid Shah Abbas I (r. 1587–1629) receiving the Mughal ambassador Khan Alam. Emperor Jahangir (r. 1605–27) sent the envoy in 1618–19 CE along with his choice portraitist, Bishandas. The artist painted a number of works recording various meetings and the likenesses of the Shah and his courtiers, of which multiple copies made in later years survive.55 In one of them, Khan Alam is shown accompanied by an attendant holding a portable hookah (Fig. 11.8).56 The painting is usually regarded as a mid-seventeenth-century copy, and other versions 278

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of the same scene do not feature the attendant; however, such a specific detail is more likely to have been omitted than added at a later date.57 The artist used gold for the mount, and indeed gold appears as a more likely material than brass, given Khan Alam’s role as the Mughal crown’s representative; but the precious mount appears to encapsulate a humble coconut.58 The very word nargile – one of the names by which the water-pipe is known to this day in several languages, has been traced back to the Sanskrit nārikera, ‘coconut’ (possibly through the intermediary of Persian nārgīl).

Figure 11.8  Khan Alam, Ambassador of Jahangir, with Shah Abbas in a Landscape (detail).



Bishandas. Page from the Late Shahjahan Album. Mughal, c. 1650. Opaque watercolour and gold on paper (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Francis Bartlett Donation of 1912 and Picture Fund, 14.665).


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It will appear less surprising that a high-ranking officer used a coconut hookah close to 1620 if we consider than, a full three to four decades later, the very Adil Shahi rulers did. Muhammad Adil Shah and his son Ali II had hookahs prominently included in two paintings that depict them receiving officers in their private chamber. The hookahs appear as a carefully chosen component of the official setting for the audience, but – judging from the evidence I was able to access – they would seem to be still fashioned out of humble nut shells fitted with a reed. At variance with the Mughal example, there is also no trace of a mount. In the c. 1660 Darbar of Ali Adil Shah II the ruler’s portable hookah is poised on the hand of an attendant,59 while in the earlier work (painted in 1651)60 Muhammad Adil Shah is shown smoking from what is to my knowledge the earliest example of a larger pipe resting on a tray. Even this larger pipe was round-bottomed and required an attendant’s assistance. Neither painting is easily accessed, and I presume Zebrowski experienced similar problems. He may have worked from reproductions, or he would not have been misled to think these were possibly Bidri objects. I in turn have not been able to access or secure permission to publish either painting; but I have had the opportunity to examine a high-resolution detail of the Darbar of Ali Adil Shah II through the courtesy of Pramod Chandra.61 The close-up shot recorded on a slide leaves hardly any doubt that the object is in fact a coconut, whose rough texture is accurately reproduced. As with Khan Alam’s hookah discussed above, the black colouring suggests a coating, but not so thick as to obscure the nut’s natural, rough surface. This completely reopens the question of whether the Bidri craft was practised in the Deccan before the Mughal conquest: barring the two Adil Shahi darbārs, there remains no evidence whatsoever, textual or visual, for this claim. The earliest depictions of Bidri objects known to me and to the scholars I have consulted are portraits of Mughal officers published by Zebrowski in his book on Deccani painting, datable to the 1690s. If the Adil Shahs themselves used coconuts fitted with a stiff tube in the 1650s and 1660s, a 1634 dating for the sophisticated Mittal piece cannot be accepted; indeed the entire chronology for Bidri hookahs needs to be reconsidered. This is confirmed by other clues, beginning with decoration. Textiles decorated with floral motifs feature prominently in the setting of the two Bijapuri darbārs – somewhat more prominently in the case of Ali Adil Shah – but the motifs do not resemble those seen on Bidri ware and no complete flowery plants are seen. Indeed the earliest instance known to me of a Deccani ruler wearing clothes ornamented with such plant motifs is a c. 1640 portrait of Abdullah Qutb Shah (r. 1626–72).62 Given that Golconda accepted Mughal suzerainty in 1636, he may well be wearing a Mughal robe of honour (khil‘at).63 280

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Only toward the end of the seventeenth century did technical advancement allow users to control their water-pipes more effectively and without assistance. Beginning with the cited portraits of Mughal officers, a more flexible tube is seen inserted into the neck of the hookah along with the chilam – a more elegant and practical solution. This in turn probably encouraged the development of specially fashioned containers: globular hookahs would seem to have been introduced in conjunction with this innovation. Such hookahs, as mentioned, were rested on a ring like traditional round-bottomed loṭas (water-jugs), probably with an aim to increase manoeuvrability.64 Coconuts were naturally round-bottomed – an indispensable prerequisite for manoeuvrability before the adoption of flexible tubes – but they were ovoid and therefore unstable. Once the semi-flexible tube made it possible to dispense with attendants (and nuts), the globular form asserted itself: it retained sufficient manoeuvrability but was also stable – even more so in the case of Bidri, with its distinctive heaviness. The old-fashioned tube may have remained in use for a short while after the introduction of the globular shape (the new one being perhaps difficult to procure), as suggested by some few paintings depicting globular hookahs with old-fashioned reeds fitted into their necks. Our Fig. 11.7 exemplifies this in a curious way: a straight line running from the officer’s mouth to the neck of the hookah is still seen upon close scrutiny. It was later effaced and replaced with the depiction of the kind of metal tube that was used from the nineteenth century onwards to attach a fully flexible ‘snake’ of the type in use to this day, but the ‘snake’ itself was apparently never painted.65 Judging from the visual record, the introduction of the globular hookah base and the semi-flexible tube could not have occurred long before the 1680s–1690s. The tube remained in use for some three or four decades at metropolitan centres and occasionally even longer elsewhere, being gradually replaced by the fully flexible tube known as ‘snake,’ as further detailed below. Developed in response to practical concerns, these innovations appear to have spread quickly, and the new shape and fittings are reproduced consistently in Mughal and Rajput paintings.66 Although only a small fraction of the hookahs depicted are made of Bidri, the similarity in shape is so close as to provide a secure enough basis for the dating of an entire range of early Bidri ware, not all of which is ornamented with Mughalizing motifs. It is therefore to the end rather than the middle of the seventeenth century that the globular Bidri hookahs and a number of stylistically related objects published by Zebrowski67 should be dated.


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Bidri ware and the new Mughal order: the Alamgiri connection Visual sources further point to a milieu of cultivated gentlemen (Fig. 11.7) rather than royal patrons.68 This is additionally supported by some few surviving enamelled gold items, including trays and pāndāns, whose shape and ornamentation are almost identical to several extant Bidri ware specimens. At variance with the latter, the goldenamelled pieces have been ascribed to North India,69 with datings ranging from a generic ‘seventeenth century’ to c. 1700. As late as c. 1735, the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah (r. 1719–48) is shown smoking from a globular hookah, possibly of enamelled gold and identical in shape to our Bidri pieces (see below). These parallels strengthen the suggestion of a Mughal connection and a hierarchy of materials, with gold being in all likelihood reserved for the ruler and inlaid zinc instead being deemed suitable for the elite.70 Historical circumstances also support a late-seventeenth-century dating: it was only then, in the mature reign of Emperor Alamgir I (r. 1658–1707), that a class of officers emerged who could patronize the craft and appreciate a Mughalizing style of ornamentation. Or in other words, Bidri ware is likely to have become popular in the decades that followed, rather than precede, the Mughal conquest of the Deccan. Since Bijapur capitulated in 1686 and Golconda in 1687, it might even be appropriate to date the officers’ portraits a litte later than Zebrowski had suggested, namely to the last years of the seventeenth century or the beginnings of the eighteenth. Such a dating presents one major advantage: after the Mughal conquest, which unified Mewar and the Deccan under the same rule, the metallic zinc extracted at Zawar would have been more readily and steadily available to Deccani craftsmen than in the preceding decades. Even if we assume a conspicuous presence of zinc from the Zawar mines on Deccani markets in the period prior to the Mughal conquest, it is difficult to imagine the emergence of a local craft that relied entirely on supplies from ‘well over 1,000 km from the nearest bidri maker.’71 The amazing variety of decorative motifs seen on early Bidri ware also agrees well with a market-oriented production addressing the mixed composition of Alamgir I’s elite, comprising Mughal and Deccani as well as Rajput officers. A few surviving pieces decorated with aquatic landscapes, mountains and pavilions, for instance, must have been made with a Rajput audience in mind (Fig. 11.3).72 Two of them may be products of the same workshop (as suggested by Zebrowski), but certainly not all – suggesting a thriving market with opportunities for competition even for the less common designs. The forts crowning rocky crags seen in these pieces have been previously interpreted as features of the Deccani landscape,73 but 282

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certain details of the architecture closely recall the Rajput style.74 The landscape itself is more reminiscent of Amber than Bidar, whose fort rises on a modest elevation. Two architectural details are especially revealing of a Mughal-Rajput connection: the bangla roof – a curved form derived from Bengali architecture – and the ‘baluster’ or ‘cypress-bodied’ (sarw-andām) column. Both were reserved for spaces closely associated with the emperor’s person during Shahjahan’s reign, but became of widespread use during Alamgir I’s.75 The elephant combat featured on one of the pieces is also Rajput in flavour,76 even though it is combined with the popular Deccani motif of a feline with raised paw. It may be worth stressing that the Deccani provenance of the pieces is not being questioned here; but the non-Deccani nature of some of their decoration is undeniable and must be accounted for, as also the later dating suggested by the evidence of hookahs. Visual evidence for the presence of Bidri at the Rajput courts in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries would be welcome in order to corroborate or disprove this suggestion, but thus far I have been unable to find any.

The Rajput connection The evidence gathered above consistently supports a dating to the 1680s if not the 1690s – the latter part of Alamgir I’s reign – for the appearance of Bidri. The annexation of Bijapur in 1686 brought Bidar and the entire region under the same rule as the Rajput lands in the north, making a regular supply of metallic zinc to the Deccan possible for the first time. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Zawar had been under the rule of the Ranas of Mewar, who were not on friendly terms with the neighbouring Muslim polities. It was only during Jahangir’s reign, in 1615, and thanks to a campaign led by the future Shahjahan that Mewar was made a tributary to the Mughal Empire.77 In the absence of conclusive evidence from the material and visual records, it remains to be proven that before this date zinc from Mewar was available in the Deccan in such amounts as to give rise to a new and highly specialized craft. The florescence of mining activities at Zawar in the fourteenth through sixteenth century is not proof in itself for the existence of Bidri: it may be easily explained on the basis of an increased demand for brass components. There was plenty of opportunity to market metallic zinc in South (and possibly Southeast or Himalayan) Asia in those centuries. The subsequent decline in building at the site is not accompanied by a decline in extraction; it is in all likelihood the result of Zawar’s incorporation into a Muslim polity. On the other hand, after the Deccan also came under Mughal 283

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suzerainty, zinc from Mewar would have been more readily available. Decline in extraction does not seem to have occurred at Zawar until after industrially produced zinc flooded the market. It is perhaps no coincidence that Alamgir I’s army in the Deccan comprised Mewar contingents.78 Not unlike certain contractors of our day, it is possible that Mewar officers seized the opportunity provided by the conquest. A new production line manufacturing objects that used up to 90% zinc as opposed to 30% must have had its appeal. And although it might prove impossible to reconstruct the precise circumstances – possibly fortuitous – that led to the creation of near-pure zinc objects for the first time, a potential partner for Rajput entrepreneurs in this venture may perhaps be suggested.

Deccani craftsmen and the new Mughal order The Mughal conquest did not only affect the administrative structures and the social composition of the elite; it also affected the crafts directly. Klaus Rötzer (in this volume) points out the similarity between Bidri ornamentation and the inlays that once decorated some of the guns in Bidar Fort: the dark iron body of the guns would have provided a strikingly similar background for the precious metal inlays.79 Even more to the point, as Rötzer further explains, the gunfounders of Bidar (then part of the Bijapur state) would have found themselves out of business after the Mughal takeover, given that the northern invaders’ technology was far superior to their own. The town of Bidar was taken in 1656, a date that is fully compatible with our chronology and with the involvement of local craftsmen in the development of a new craft. As regards the inlays, the suggestion of direct continuity with the Baridi guns appears more tenuous, given that the latest gun in Bidar Fort was manufactured several decades earlier, in 1591. Despite this difficulty, I am inclined to maintain Rötzer’s suggestion of an involvement of gunfounders in the development of Bidri ware. After all, the smelting skills involved are closely similar. In addition, the gunfounders of Bidar would not have become redundant until the last Mughal assault: they would have easily found employment at Bijapur, which held on for a few further decades. Inlay in itself is not so unique a craft – it is the zinc smelting that deserves attention, and we know it was the purview of separate groups of craftsmen. Historically, there appears to have been a clear separation between the craftsmen that cast the Bidri objects and the inlayers that decorated them. It is not impossible that the paths of gunfounders and inlayers 284

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parted soon after 1591 – the date of the last cast-bronze gun in Bidar – and that new inlayers were brought in once the new material became available. The Bidar guns may in that case have provided inspiration for the contrasting designs, rather than being links in a seamless chain of manufacture.

Reconsidering the craftsmen’s lore Interestingly, in our survey of the available visual and material record, we have come across some of the same sites that are mentioned in the craftsmen’s lore. The Ajmer region is firmly associated with the zinc’s provenance, and the mention of Bijapur before Bidar in the craftmen’s accounts is consistent with our historical reconstruction: our purported gunfounders would have been in Bijapur at the time of the Mughal conquest. Iran and Iraq for their part (to be understood as historic regions, not as the present states) had been associated with the manufacture of inlaid brass and bronze from as early as the twelfth century; this must be the Muslim portion of the lore.80 Iran and Iraq were also strongholds of the Safavid Empire, whence several waves of craftsmen had migrated to the Deccan in the centuries preceding the Mughal conquest (and several more to the Mughal court during the reigns of Jahangir and Shahjahan). Therefore, although the historical connections may be somewhat garbled, the individual ‘stages’ identified in the lore are not entirely implausible: methods for the distillation of zinc oxide were devised in Iran around the same years as Muinuddin Chishti’s lifetime, while the renewed florescence of the mines at Zawar coincides roughly with Alauddin Bahman Shah’s reign. Bidar for its part is still regarded as the best source for the essential ingredient of the burnishing paste: this and possibly a local artist’s ingenuity may well be the reason for the craft’s local connection. The craftsmen’s lore, therefore, far from being a completely fanciful account, contains more than a clue to historical facts.

The craftsmen’s diaspora: revising the chronology of later Bidri pieces Having thus identified a terminus post quem for the beginnings of the craft, we may now attempt to establish a terminus a quo for its early phase, enabling us to refine the later chronology and history of Bidri. Once again, the most reliable evidence is provided by hookahs, which underwent another major technical advancement with the introduction of a fully flexible tube known to this day as ‘snake.’ The transition 285

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is documented at the Mughal court by two early-eighteenth-century paintings that depict Emperor Muhammad Shah smoking respectively from a globular and a bellshaped hookah, both fitted with a ‘snake.’81 The paintings would seem to suggest that the tube was introduced first, and the full flexibility it guaranteed prompted the introduction of a hookah base characterized by stability rather than mobility. This is further supported by a few Rajput depictions of globular hookahs fitted with the new ‘snake’ tube and a taller chilam (also in use to this day) that was probably developed to allow enough space for the coiled tube to rest on top of the pipe when not in use.82 The bell shape fitted with a ‘snake’ remains the most popular to our day. Numerous Bidri specimens were produced in the eighteenth century. If we accept the chronology proposed by Terence McInerney for Muhammad Shah’s portraits, based on changes in his physical appearance and facial-hair style, we may date the former painting to c. 1735;83 McInerney himself dates the latter to c. 1730.84 This revised dating – at variance with the previous assumption of a linear development85 – suggests the two types of hookahs remained in use alongside each other for some time. This is fully supported by evidence from the Rajput courts.86 There is even some indication that the bell shape may have originated (independently of hookahs) in Rajasthan.87 On the basis of the cited evidence, a dating to 1144 H (1731–32 CE) for the inscribed globular hookah in the Mittal collection appears plausible. Certain stylistic traits of the Mittal piece, such as the ‘swirl’ of the cypress tree, corroborate this dating. The revised chronology also allows us to connect the diaspora of craftsmen during the eighteenth century with a precise historical scenario and to account for some otherwise inexplicable data that have emerged from technical inquiry (see below). If dated around the 1740s, the migration of craftsmen to other centres will be in perfect accordance with the transfer of power from Delhi to Lucknow and other regional centres after Nadir Shah’s sack of Delhi in 1739. Against this historical background, it appears as no coincidence that Lucknow and Hyderabad emerged as the leading manufacturing centres between the eighteenth and the early twentieth century. The date of Nadir Shah’s raid also follows closely the patenting of zinc manufacture in Britain, suggesting the incipient arrival on the Indian market of cheaper and more abundant material. It may be no coincidence that, by the 1770s and 1780s, paintings by Tilly Kettle and others portray courtesans and members of the lower classes smoking from bell-shaped Bidri hookahs:88 clearly by then Bidri ware was becoming more widespread as well as more affordable. This would also account for the otherwise disconcerting outcome of technical inquiry conducted on the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Bidri collection, which revealed that most pieces 286

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contain zinc whose properties are not compatible with an Indian provenance. This may well be industrially manufactured zinc of European or Chinese provenance.89 By the nineteenth century, the Zawar mines were abandoned altogether, due to a combination of degraded environmental conditions and the inability to compete with the new globalized market.

Conclusions This essay’s strong focus on historical contextualization and chronology may have resulted in a disproportionate emphasis on hookahs to the detriment of other Bidri artefacts – making my conclusions more vulnerable to criticism. However, a diverse range of historical, visual and material sources has been considered. Although preference has been given to the South Asian connection as regards the source of metallic zinc, a Chinese provenance cannot be discounted until further technical inquiry on a sufficient range of early pieces is conducted. Chinese zinc would theoretically have been available in the Deccan independently of the Mughal conquest, but the visual record does not support its existence in the region or its association with Deccani courts, as I hope to have demonstrated. Although on the same basis or through additional evidence a somewhat different reconstruction might be suggested in the future, I believe the revised chronology for the bulk of surviving Bidri pieces will not be amended significantly. A connection with Alamgir I’s conquest of the Deccan accounts for too many disparate elements in the picture to be discounted: if confirmed, Bidri would prove to be the most relevant contribution of Alamgir I’s reign in the domain of the visual arts alongside the great architectural projects that marked the decades soon after his accession.90 Although, of course, Bidri was not Alamgir I’s own idea, but a creation of the nameless craftsmen (and possibly craftswomen) that painstakingly developed each stage in the process – from the extraction of zinc to the addition of elaborate designs in silver or other metals which are as appealing to us as they were in their day – with perhaps some entrepreneurial drive as an additional ingredient. Not unlike volatile zinc and the alchemy involved at almost every stage of the Bidri manufacturing process, art is often the outcome of unpredictable combinations, and a testimony to human adaptability to the challenges posed by critical historical junctures.


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Notes 1 This essay is based on suggestions first developed at the conference Fragrance, Symmetry and Light (Hyderabad, January 2007), where I discussed Bidri floral decoration and received some illuminating feedback, particularly from Klaus Rötzer, as further detailed in this paper. My thanks also go to Robert Alderman, James W. Allan, Pramod Chandra, Catherine Glynn, Shivani Grover, Navina Najat Haidar, Susan La Niece, Jagdish Mittal, Sonya Quintanilla, Klaus Rötzer, Robert Skelton, Pushkar Sohoni, Susan Stronge and Laura Weinstein for contributing ideas, images, relevant bibliography and/or support. None of them, of course, may be held responsible for the views expressed here. 2 Mark Zebrowski, ‘Textiles, Metalwork and Stone Objects,’ in George Michell and Mark Zebrowski, Architecture and Art of the Deccan Sultanates, vol. 1.7 of The New Cambridge History of India (Cambridge, 1999), 240 (226–45); Susan Stronge, Bidri Ware: Inlaid Metalwork from India (London, 1985), 11. 3 The reference is found in the second volume of the Chahār Gulshan, a history of India in the Persian language, where it is stated that the city of Bidar is renowned for the fine and rare Bidris produced there. Cit. in Stronge, Bidri Ware, 15–16. 4 See for example two hookahs in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, mentioned in Stronge, Bidri Ware, 9. One piece bearing an incomplete date is especially relevant and will be discussed in detail. 5 Stronge, Bidri Ware, 16; Mark Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India (London, 1997), 232 and passim. 6 Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze, 264; id., ‘Textiles, Metalwork and Stone,’ 240. Stronge, Bidri Ware, 11, suggests the beginning of the seventeenth century as the earliest secure date. 7 P.T. Craddock et al., ‘Zinc in India,’ in 2000 Years of Zinc and Brass, ed. P.T. Craddock, British Museum Occasional Paper 50 (revised ed., London, 1998), 29–30. 8 See note 2. 9 See notes 7 and 27. 10 Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze; id., Deccani Painting (London/Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA, 1983). 11 Stronge, Bidri Ware, 11; Krishna Lal, Bidri Ware: National Museum Collection (New Delhi, 1990), 1. 12 Lal, National Museum, 1; the Ajmer dargāh (shrine) is briefly discussed by Omar Khalidi in this volume. 13 Lal, National Museum, 2. 14 The site exploits sphalerite ores (Craddock et al., ‘Zinc in India,’ 43). Its jast (zinc) is mentioned by the late-sixteenth-century Mughal historian Abu’l Fazl in his Ā’īn-i Akbarī: Áín-i-Akbarí by AbulFazl-i-Allámí, ed. H. Blochmann (Calcutta, 1872), vol. II, 273, where the site is referred to as ‘Jāwar.’ Irfan Habib, in his Atlas of the Mughal Empire (Delhi, 1982), 20, identified Zawar with the ‘Jālor’ in the Ajmer ṣūba cited in another passage of the Ā’īn-i Akbarī (vol. I, 41–42) and several more times in the Akbarnāma.


bidri ware and the new mughal order 15 Stronge, Bidri Ware, 11: ‘Analysis of 27 pieces in the Indian Department collection [of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London] shows the zinc content to be an average of 87.04%.’ 16 See ‘Brass,’ in The Grove Encyclopedia of Materials and Techniques in Art, ed. Gerald W.R. Ward (Oxford/New York, 2008), 51; Craddock, 2000 Years of Zinc and Brass, 1; Stronge, Bidri Ware, 11. 17 ‘Brass,’ in Grove Encyclopedia, 54. 18 Craddock, 2000 Years of Zinc and Brass, 1; James Allan, Persian Metal Technology (London, 1979), 39. On ‘natural brass’ made by smelting a mixed copper-zinc ore, see ‘Brass,’ in Grove Encyclopaedia, 52. 19 See Craddock et al., ‘Zinc in India,’ 27–28, who suggest the technology may have been introduced by Hellenic invaders. A phase of considerable activity at Zawar has been identified, dating to the last centuries BCE (based on C14 datings): ibid., 43; the site was then apparently abandoned for several centuries. The amounts of lead or silver that could be obtained from the sphalerite would not have justified such ‘prodigious mining operations’ (ibid.). 20 Allan, Persian Metal Technology, 39–42. 21 See ‘Brass,’ in The Grove Encyclopedia, 51. 22 Allan, Persian Metal Technology, 46. 23 See ‘Brass,’ in The Grove Encyclopaedia, 52. In Europe, calamine could be used without such elaborate pretreatment, but would still yield brass, not metallic zinc: ibid., 52–53. 24 Persian Metal Technology, 45. 25 William Champion of Bristol patented the process in 1738; in Europe, in the preceding century, the metal itself was known only, if at all, as an exotic import from the East in very small quantities. Stronge, Bidri Ware, 11. For further details see ‘Brass,’ in The Grove Encyclopedia, 55. 26 For a more detailed description of the speltering process see ‘Brass,’ in The Grove Encyclopaedia, 53–54. The same text claims textual descriptions survive from as early as 1000 CE, while Craddock et al., ‘Zinc in India,’ 29–30, claim these first occur in the twelfth or thirteenth century. The precise dating is not crucial for our purposes. 27 See P.T. Craddock, et al., ‘Zinc Production in Medieval India,’ World Archaeology 15/2 (1983), 211–17; P.T. Craddock et al., ‘Early Zinc Production in India,’ Mining Magazine ( January 1985), 45. 28 ‘Bidri,’ in The Grove Encyclopaedia, 54. 29 Two illustrations accompanying the map of Bidar and its environs in Gentil’s 1770 atlas depict one such atelier and a range of Bidri objects. A woman is included in the picture, although she is not shown working. See Maps of Mughal India, Drawn by Colonel Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Gentil, Agent for the French Government to the Court of Shuja‘-ud-daula at Faizabad, in 1770, ed. Susan Gole (Delhi, 1988), 35. The map is also reproduced in Stronge, Bidri Ware, pl. 3. 30 For a description, see Stronge, Bidri Ware, 11. 31 Present-day recipes depend partly on the local availability of materials. Stronge, Bidri Ware, 11, lists the following as typical ingredients: ammonium chloride, potassium nitrate, sodium chloride, copper sulphate and mud. The traditional recipe may have been less elaborate than presently allowed by the


The Visual World of Muslim India ready availability of such chemical compounds. In spite of detailed technical inquiry, the chemical processes that cause the surface to blacken have not been fully clarified: see P.T. Craddock, ‘Enigmas of bidri,’ Surface Engineering 21/5–6 (2005), ed. Alessandra Giumila-Mair, special issue of Arts and Surfaces, 337–38. 32 Stronge, Bidri Ware, 32. 33 Ibid. 34 Today a small percentage of zinc is typically added to bronze as a deoxidizer; a high percentage of zinc results in a more brittle alloy: ‘Brass,’ in The Grove Encyclopaedia, 51 35 Jagdish Mittal, Bidri Ware and Damascene Work in Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art (Hyderabad, 2011), 48, cat. no. 1. See also id., ‘Indo-Islamic Glass and Metalware,’ in An Age of Splendour: Islamic Art in India, ed. Karl Khandalavala (Bombay, 1983), 67. I am indebted to Susan Stronge for bringing the former publication to my attention, and to Jagdish Mittal for sharing copy of it and images of the hookah. Unfortunately it proved impossible to obtain a photograph of the inscription: as explained by Mittal (personal correspondence, November 2011), ‘the inscription being chiseled it cannot be photographed.’ 36 Nonetheless, the date has been generally accepted by scholars: see for example Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze, 235 and no. 384. Stronge, Bidri Ware, 16, expressed scepticism, but – as subsequently clarified by Zebrowski, ibid., 245, note 25 – this was because Mittal’s original notice had been illustrated with the photograph of a different (and doubtlessly later) hookah from the same collection. Cf. Mittal, ‘Indo-Islamic Metalware,’ fig. 11. 37 Cf. the relevant chapters in Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze. 38 Zebrowski illustrates this with a charming photograph where motorcycle tyres perform the same function in a twentieth-century setting: Gold, Silver & Bronze, 227. 39 See for example Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze, no. 360. 40 ‘Pān consists of a leaf from the betel vine rolled into a conical pouch or quid which contains chopped areca nuts mixed with lime paste and aromatic spices. Pān has digestive qualities and acts as a mild stimulant. The preparation of the ingredients and the storage of the finished product require an array of utensils which usually rise above the level of the merely utilitarian.’ Stronge, Bidri Ware, 35. 41 See for example Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze, nos. 259–61 and 263–68. 42 Ibid., nos. 158–61. 43 San Diego Museum of Art, Edwin Binney III collection, 1990:450; previously discussed by Zebrowski, Deccani painting, 211–12 and fig. 181; Stronge, Bidri Ware, 17–18 and col. pl. a. 44 See for example Zebrowski, Deccani Painting, fig. 182; Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze, fig. 36. 45 Sujit Narayan Sen, Catalogue on [sic] Damascene and Bidri Art in the Indian Museum (Calcutta, 1983), 14. 46 An exceptional case of matching ewer and basin is illustrated in Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze, no. 238. 47 See for example Berlin, Museum für Islamische Kunst, F. 4595.31.


bidri ware and the new mughal order 48 The Adil Shahs’ affected cosmopolitanism is explored in Deborah Hutton and Rebecca Tucker’s contribution to this volume. 49 The ambassador’s memoirs (copy of which, in a minute script, is preserved in London, British Library, Or. 1996) contain an account of his diplomatic mission. This was first published (in English) as ‘Wikaya-i Asad Beg,’ tr. B.W. Chapman, in The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians: The Muhammadan Period, ed. H.M. Elliot and J. Dowson (2nd ed., Calcutta, 1953), vol. 6, 163–64, and has been considered by various scholars. A recent discussion may be found in Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘Mughal Expansion in the Deccan, 1570–1605: Contemporary Perspectives,’ in Goa and the Great Mughal, ed. Jorge Flores and Nuno Vassallo e Silva (Lisbon/London, 2004), 37–42. See also Purshottam Mahadeo Joshi, ‘Asad Beg’s Mission to Bijapur, 1603–1604,’ in Mahamahopadhyaya: Prof. D.V. Potdar Sixty-first Birthday Commemoration Volume, ed. S.N. Sen (Pune, 1950), 184–96. To the best of my knowledge the Persian text remains, rather inexplicably, unpublished. 50 Alam and Subrahmanyam, ‘Mughal Expansion in the Deccan,’ 37, remind us that Asad Beg had just briefly emerged from obscurity and managed to secure Akbar’s trust: his former patron Abu’l Fazl had been assassinated in 1601. His diplomatic mission (further detailed ibid.) was successful and he was sent to Bijapur again soon afterwards: see Purshottam Mahadeo Joshi, ‘Asad Beg’s return from Bijapur and his second mission to the Deccan, 1604–1606,’ in Studies in Indian History: Dr. A.G. Pawar Felicitation Volume, ed. V.D. Rao (Bombay, 1968), 136–55. 51 The issue is touched upon in Laura E. Parodi, ‘Darbārs in transition: the many facets of the Mughal Imperial Image after Shah Jahan as Seen in the ex-Binney Collection in the San Diego Museum of Art,’ in Indo-Muslim Cultures in Transition, ed. Karen B. Leonard and Alka Patel (Leiden/Boston, MA, 2012), vol. 2, 87–110. I take the opportunity to thank Sonya Quintanilla for allowing me to access and publish materials from the collection in that article and the present chapter. 52 Upon departure in 1603, Asad Beg had been explicitly commanded to bring back goods and wealth (zar u māl) as tribute: Alam and Subrahmanyam, ‘Mughal Expansion in the Deccan,’ 37. In 1617, Jahangir prohibited the use of tobacco at court: The Jahangirnama: Memoirs of Jahangir, Emperor of India, ed. and tr. by Wheeler M. Thackston (Washington, DC, 1999), 217. 53 Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Art Museum, bequest of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, 1960.197. See Anthony Welch, Shah ‘Abbas & the Arts of Isfahan (New York, 1973), no. 12. For a colour illustration, see Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom, The Art and Architecture of Islam 1250–1800 (New Haven, CT/ London, 1994), fig. 223. 54 Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze, 227. 55 On which see Ashok Kumar Das, ‘Bishandas: “Unequalled in his Age in Taking Likenesses”,’ in Mughal Masters: Further Studies, ed. Ashok Kumar Das (Mumbai, 1998), 119–28, with further bibliography. 56 Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, 14.665. From the Late Shah Jahan Album, c. 1650. A full illustration may be found in Das, ‘Bishandas,’ 126, fig. 12.


The Visual World of Muslim India 57 Khan Alam was a serious smoker and could not part from tobacco even for a brief moment; he requested and obtained permission to smoke in the Shah’s presence: see Das, ‘Bishandas,’ note 19. 58 What the ordinary courtier must have been smoking is clarified in 1616 by Eduard Terry, who had been the chaplain to Thomas Roe, King James I’s envoy to Jahangir’s court; he writes of ‘little earthen pots, having a narrow neck and an open round top, out of the belly of which comes a small spout… a very small strait hollow Cane or Reed… within that spout.’ Cit. in Stronge, Bidri Ware, 33. 59 The Darbar of Ali Adil Shah II (attributed by Zebrowski to the Bombay painter at Bijapur, c. 1660) is in a private collection and was previously discussed by Zebrowski, 139 and fig. 140. Zebrowski tentatively suggested an identification of the Hindu courtier holding an illegible scroll as none other than Shivaji. The dating is based on the apparent young age of the ruler in comparison with other portraits. See also id., in Michell & Zebrowski, Art of the Deccan, 186 and fig. 137. 60 The Darbar of Muhammad Adil Shah (Bijapur, dated 1651) in Jaipur (City Palace Museum, A.G. 771) was published by Zebrowski, Deccani Painting, 128 and fig. 95; id., in Michell & Zebrowski, Art of the Deccan, 179–80 and fig. 131. 61 I am indebted to Pramod Chandra for allowing me to examine a slide from his archive, and to Shivani Grover for her assistance. The Darbar of Muhammad Adil Shah is known to me only through the published black-and-white reproductions. Given the significant difference in size, the two hookahs cannot possibly be one and the same object, and it is only on the admittedly questionable basis of a general similarity and close dating that I assume they were made of the same material. 62 Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, EA 1960.203. Illus. in Andrew Topsfield, Indian Paintings from Oxford Collections (Oxford, 1994), no. 17; for two more examples see Zebrowski, Deccani Painting, figs. 149–51. 63 This is not the place to dwell on the intended audience for these and other paintings, including the cited Adil Shahi darbārs; but compare with the instances discussed by Keelan Overton in this volume, where jewels rather than flowers appear to be selectively employed in Adil Shahi painting. I suspect similar criteria might be at work here. 64 I am indebted to Barbara Brend for prompting me to consider this aspect. 65 Another example of stiff reed is also in the San Diego Museum of Art: Portrait of Shah Raju Smoking; illus. in Zebrowski, Deccani Painting, fig. 158. 66 See for example Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze, nos. 365, 366, and a series of portraits of Amar Singh II of Mewar as a prince and ruler, the earliest of which seems datable to c. 1690–95. From the Kanoria collection, Patna; present location unknown. Published by Andrew Topsfield, Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the Patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, Artibus Asiae Supplementum 44 (Zürich, 2001), 117, fig. 87 and passim. The historical background is also of interest: according to Topsfield, ibid., 121, ‘Relations with the Emperor [Alamgir I] were poor but stable. [He] was too preoccupied with his Deccani campaigns – in which he was aided by a small Mewar contingent – to contemplate further campaigns elsewhere.’


bidri ware and the new mughal order 67 Cf. Gold, Silver & Bronze, nos. 369, 370–71 and passim. 68 See also note 47. In the eighteenth-century manuscript discussed by Navina Najat Haidar in this volume, a prince setting off on a spiritual quest dons the clothes of a wandering ascetic and carries offerings for a spiritual master in what is clearly a Bidri piece. This might well signal renunciation of his status. 69 Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze, nos. 31–38. 70 Enamelled gold decanters filled with rose water were presented every year to Shahjahan during the Holi celebrations: see Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani, ‘The Jewelled Objects of Hindustan,’ in Jewelled Arts of Mughal India, ed. Beatriz Chadour-Sampson and Nigel Israel, vol. 10 of Jewellery Studies (2004), 13. 71 Craddock, ‘Enigmas,’ 333. 72 Private collection. Further examples are illustrated in Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze, nos. 369, 371, 372; Mittal, ‘Indo-Islamic Metal,’ 71, fig. 24. 73 Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze, 230. 74 I am indebted to Klaus Rötzer for this suggestion. 75 See Catherine B. Asher, The Architecture of Mughal India, vol. 1.4 of The New Cambridge History of India (Cambridge, 1992), 258–59. For a definition of the ‘baluster column,’ see Ebba Koch, ‘The Baluster Column: A European Motif in Mughal Architecture and Its Meaning,’ in Mughal Art and Imperial Ideology: Collected Essays (New Delhi, 2001), 38–60. 76 Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze, no. 369. 77 Jahangirnama, 154, 164–67. The episode is illustrated in the Windsor Pādshāhnāma, fols. 46b-47a. See Milo Cleveland Beach and Ebba Koch, King of the World: The Padshahnama: An Imperial Mughal Manuscript from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle (London, 1997), nos. 6–7. 78 See note 66. 79 Rötzer further compares them with the mother-of-pearl inlays on a dark stone background that decorate one of the palaces in Bidar’s fort. 80 There are other clues to an Iranian connection: for example the similarity between Bidri and burnished steel with koftgarī inlays, previously noted by Ghulam Yazdani, Bidar: Its History and Monuments (London, 1947), 20 and Craddock, ‘Enigmas,’ 335; or the widespread use of sand casting, at variance with the South Asian preference for lost wax casting but in accordance with Iranian practice: Craddock, ‘Enigmas,’ 336. 81 Hyderabad, Salar Jung Museum, and Oxford, Bodleian Library, inv. no. Douce Or. A 3, fol. 14. Illus. in Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze, nos. 365, 366. Possibly only a few years later, Rao Raja Sardar Singh of Uniara (r. 1740–77) is seen smoking from both globular and bell-shaped hookahs: see Court Painting in Rajasthan, ed. Andrew Topsfield (Mumbai, 2000), 111, fig. 2 and 114, fig. 4. 82 See Andrew Topsfield, Paintings from Rajasthan in the National Gallery of Victoria: A collection acquired through the Felton Bequests’ Committee (Melbourne, 1980), nos. 112 (Udaipur, c. 1735),


The Visual World of Muslim India 119–121, 126, 131. Globular hookahs remain in use in Udaipur until at least the 1760s: see ibid., nos. 154, 166–67. 83 Compare with Terence McInerney, ‘Mughal Painting during the Reign of Muhammad Shah,’ in After the Great Mughals: Painting in Delhi and the Regional Courts in the 18th and 19th Centuries, ed. Barbara Schmitz (Mumbai, 2002), fig. 7. 84 Ibid., fig. 9. 85 Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze, 226, tentatively dated the paintings to c. 1720 and c. 1740 respectively. 86 See notes 81, 82. 87 See for example two works from the Howard Hodgkin collection: a painting once ascribed to Bikaner c. 1700 and currently to Mandi c. 1630–45, and a drawing from Sawar of c. 1700. The first is illus. in Simon Digby, ‘A Corpus of “Mughal” Glass,’ Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 36/1 (1973), 85–86 and pl. III; for the revised dating, see Catherine Glynn, ‘Early Painting in Mandi,’ Artibus Asiae 44/1 (1983), 53–54 and fig. 13. The second is illus. in Gian Giuseppe Filippi, India: miniature e dipinti dal XVI al XIX secolo – la collezione di Howard Hodgkin (Milan, 1997), no. 16. In both cases, the objects are perched on shelves and not fitted with any of the characteristic hookah provisions; the material is also unclear. 88 Examples are illustrated in Stronge, Bidri Ware, col. pl. b and fig. 7. 89 ‘… lead isotope analysis on some early bidri wares strongly suggests that the zinc did not come from Zawar, yet there are no other sources in India that were exploited in those times.’ Craddock, ‘Enigmas,’ 333. Possibly the revised chronology would assign these ‘early’ pieces to a dating compatible with industrially manufactured zinc. It is certainly compatible with our current understanding of zinc manufacture in China: see note 17. In the nineteenth century at least, Chinese zinc was circulating widely in South Asia: Craddock, ‘Enigmas,’ 335–36. 90 Such as the Badshahi Masjid in Lahore and the Bibi-ka Maqbara at Aurangabad (Maharashtra); not forgetting the so-called ‘Moti Masjid’ in the palace complex at Shahjahanabad, Delhi. See Laura E. Parodi, ‘The Bibi-ka Maqbara in Aurangabad. A Landmark of Mughal Power in the Deccan?’ East & West 48 / 3–4 (1998), 349–83; Catherine B. Asher, Architecture of Mughal India, 255–60.


12 G u l s h a n - i ‘I s h q Sufi Romance of the Deccan

—Navina Najat Haidar—


any of the allegorical tales of India termed as Sufi romances are in fact reworkings of far more ancient narratives overlaid with Sufi mysticism. Characterized by highly emotional and romantic plots, a variety of human and supernatural characters, and vivid imagery and descriptions, this substantial body of literature going back to as early as the thirteenth century has provided rich material for illustration to artists working at a wide variety of Indian courts. While the literary genre of Sufi romances has been recognized as self-referential in many aspects, with texts developing from and referring to one another, it can be argued that in the artistic sphere the illustrations of romances, which share certain stylistic characteristics, are often interrelated in a similar way. Unlike better-known illustrated texts of the Indo-Persian tradition, such as the Shāhnāma of Firdawsi or the Khamsa of Nizami, the genre of Sufi romances is only just being drawn out as a thread within painting traditions and the relationships between text and image, or overall structure, or illustration cycles now beginning to be analysed. My paper will discuss one such artistic tradition of the Deccan, that of the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq or Flower Garden of Love of Mulla Nusrati, particularly focusing on a lavishly illustrated copy in the Philadelphia Museum of Art attributed to Hyderabad and dated 1742–43.1 This manuscript is of high courtly quality and artistic merit, appears to be complete and provides a key to understanding and identifying many of the fragmentary Gulshan-i ‘Ishq pages from other manuscripts that are now dispersed. Indeed, its importance as a piece of dated evidence for early Hyderabad painting in general is considerable in light of the paucity of dated and inscribed material from this period. There will be several aims in this essay: first to provide a general overview of the 295

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artistic tradition of the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq through an examination of the Philadelphia manuscript. By outlining its overall narrative structure through a selection of its 97 folios, this essay will aim not only to give a sense of the story which is thus far not translated, but also to demonstrate how the paintings work to draw out key aspects of the central theme. This is achieved through the pervasive use of floral and garden imagery, in keeping with the title of the composition, and one of its main metaphorical elements, a marked colour symbolism, as well as highly imaginative compositions which not only closely reflect the actual text but also intensify the mood and spirit of the narrative. The Gulshan-i ‘Ishq was composed in 1657 by Mulla Nusrati at the Bijapur court of Ali Adil Shah II and takes the form of a mathnawī, or narrative in rhymed couplets in Dakani Urdu. Considered to be a reworking of an earlier Awadhi poem, the Madhu-Mālatī by the medieval poet Sayyid Manjhan Rajgiri, the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq is a symmetrically woven allegorical tale on the theme of divine love, through the story of Prince Manohar’s quest to attain Madhumalati, with whom he fell in love in a dream.2 Belonging to a family of interrelated narratives, the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq follows in a series of related illustrated manuscripts, such as the Chandāyan, written in 1379 by Mulla Da’ud.3 This in turn is considered to have been the model for Jaisi’s Padmāvat of 1520 and for Shaykh Qutban’s Mṛgāvatī of 1503. The Madhu-Mālatī of 1545 by Manjhan was the immediate model for the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq and a Persian version, Mihr wa Māh by Aqil Khan Alamgiri, also exists.4 The text of the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq, numbering more than 4,500 double verses, remains untranslated, as mentioned earlier; however the Philadelphia Museum of Art has kindly provided a fairly detailed synopsis of the content which gives a good general sense of the overall structure and also many interesting descriptions contained within.5 In the Deccan the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq appears to have been a consistently popular text for illustration for about one hundred and fifty years and can be associated thematically with several other romances that were illustrated in the region, including the Nal-Daman and the Pem Nem. In a more extended way, the whole tradition can be related to classical Persian texts and tales, such as that of Layla and Majnun or Khusraw and Shirin, which have also traditionally been read as Sufi allegories. An initial survey of collections has shown a fair number of Gulshan-i ‘Ishq manuscripts, not all necessarily illustrated, but those that are tend to be fairly plentiful in the number of painted folios. The Salar Jung Museum is understood to have eight copies, including the earliest dated manuscript of 1669.6 The Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya holds an illustrated manuscript dated 1711.7 Also in the sequence comes a widely dispersed copy of about 1710 whose illustrations are 296

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found in the Nour Collection, London, the Binney Collection at the San Diego Museum of Art, and others (this attribution date has been made by the late Linda Leach and is accepted here for reasons that will be discussed later).8 The Philadelphia manuscript under discussion, as mentioned, is dated 1742–43. Two more manuscripts are cited by cataloguers in the British Library and await further study.9 The Philadelphia Free Library copy is the last in the sequence, dated 1815.10 And finally, scholars who have worked on editing versions of the text claim to have had access to several unillustrated copies, probably over 25 in number.11 This survey indicates that in terms of numbers, the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq appears to have been more popularly copied in the Deccan than other texts such as the Chandāyan, for example. The fairly wide variation in style, and also quality, of the illustrated manuscripts of the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq imply both different levels of patronage as well as different centres of production in the Deccan. The internal artistic or textual relationships between the manuscripts are not clearly apparent, but in focussing on the Philadelphia copy I will be arguing that the dispersed manuscript of c. 1710 was almost certainly its most direct pictorial model.12 While the painting styles in this group of Gulshan-i ‘Ishq manuscripts differ quite considerably, they remain generally close in the style of the text pages which usually share similar layouts. Two columns of text suited to the mathnawī structure are usually executed in large naskh script separated by rulings down the centre. The titles tend to be markedly oversized and are not necessarily contained within cartouches as in the popular Mughal manner. The text is normally written in black ink, while coloured inks (usually blue or red) are sometimes seen in headings. The illuminations are sparse with an ornamented frontispiece frequently sufficing as the chief decorative element. The Phildelphia Gulshan-i ‘Ishq is a heavy manuscript bound in a handsome redand-gold embossed leather binding and contains over 200 pages, each measuring about 14x10 inches, of which 97 contain richly pigmented and gilded paintings.13 Its inner cover contains an early handwritten English notice saying that the book was taken from the zenāna of Tipu Sultan by the British in 1799 at the siege of Seringipatnam. The text pages of bold naskh calligraphy are divided into two columns by gold rules in the conventional manner of mathnawīs. The colophon (Fig. 12.1) contains the information that the writing of the text was completed in 1155 H/1742 CE and adds that the paintings were completed a year later in 1156 H/1743 CE. The name of the calligrapher Ahmad ibn Abdullah Nadkar is mentioned, and there is an implication that he may have been responsible for the paintings too, a rare but not unknown phenomenon. So far no further works by this calligrapher/artist (possibly 297

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Figure 12.1  Gulshan-i ‘Ishq. Colophon (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1945–65–22. Gift of Mrs. Philip S. Collins in memory of her husband, 1945–65–22).

a Maharashtrian from his name) are known, but the investigation has just begun and will hopefully reveal more information with time.14 The Philadelphia manuscript also mentions the name of the patron – interestingly, a woman, Sajida Mahtaram, who is not connected with any other commissions. The manuscript’s later history is not known but it presumably made its way to the United States through the United Kingdom, and eventually became part of the collection of Philip S. Collins, whose ex libris is also found on its inner cover.15 It was accessioned in 1945 by the Philadelphia Museum of Art as part of a larger gift of manuscripts, given by Mrs. Philip Collins in her husband’s memory. The title of the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq reflects one of the central metaphors of the text and an important visual metaphor of its accompanying illustrations – the garden. Quoting Ali Akbar Husain in his recent scholarship on the mathnawī: [Nusrati] considers his Gulshan-i ‘Ishq to be a garden adorned with flowering trees (phul jharan) of a kind… and with variously coloured (rang birange) 298

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garden plots (chaman). He boasts that each episode of the romance he narrates is a choice fruit garden (bustan dil guzin); and one may be sure that even if the whole falls shorts of being a Persian gulistan or bustan his work is the choicest garland (yik khub har) woven with flowers from an Indian phulban or phulbari [garden].16 Gaeffke’s observations on garden imagery in the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq create a typology of gardens in the text and find related parallels in the painted settings.17 The opening text pages and illustrations of the Philadelphia manuscript of the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq bring together several important figures associated with its creation or who are important symbols of spiritual or worldly power in the Deccan. Following an illuminated frontispiece, the subsequent folios depict two religious figures; the first is an unidentified shaykh (almost certainly a Sufi from his green turban and ostrich-egg symbol) but mistakenly labelled in the accompanying rosettes (which identify the subject of each painting in the manuscript) as the major Sufi shaykh of the Deccan, Gesu Daraz. He in fact occurs on the next folio, identifiable by his long locks and seated within a floral decorated domed building (Fig. 12.2). Sultan Ali Adil Shah II is also

Figure 12.2  Gesu Daraz enthroned.


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Figure 12.3  Raja Bikram’s alms are rebuffed.


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invoked among the early painted folios and a small quarter-page painting depicts the writer Nusrati, shown writing the text of the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq. On the ground before him is the book, which, in a witty conceit, resembles the red-hued outer leather covers of this very copy.18 These opening folios also set the tone of the pictorial idiom that is to follow throughout the manuscript: full-page illustrations for the most part, which retain a flavour of late Golconda style in painting while moving towards the stiff, more simplified yet strong idiom favoured at Hyderabad and some of its provincial satellite courts.19 Throughout the manuscript the images are outlined in a bold line and completed 300

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in vivid and opaque colour. They also contain a good deal of gold which has been pricked, chased and pressed to give the folios a rich texture. Another notable stylistic feature of these paintings is the great interest shown in the depiction of textiles, and in an extravagance of patterning in general, with many of these patterns taken from contemporary textile designs. The planes of floral pattern seen in the previous folios are further intensified in the opening of the narrative. Here (Fig. 12.3), King Bikram, the ruler of Kanakgir, offers alms to a holy man, Rawshan Dil (‘Illuminated Heart’) who refuses to accept, as the king is childless. To become worthy of the blessing of a son the king has to undergo hardship and seeking, symbolic of the challenges of the soul in search of the divine. The text provides several details which appear in the painting. The queen who personally attended to Raja Bikram every morning on this occasion was interrupted from serving the meal by the cry of the mendicant outside; she is shown within the palace above. Raja Bikram giving his meal to the holy man is depicted in the register below. Raja Bikram placing his head at Rawshan Dil’s feet is not shown here, but is mentioned in the text and appears in another double frontispiece illustration of the same episode in the Nour Collection, London.20 The palace walls in the background are decorated with vases filled with floral sprays. While such floral vases are extensively known in Mughal and Deccan manuscript and also wall painting, they are particularly important at Bijapur where they occur as primary decorative elements within an interior sacred chamber in the Athar Mahal, 1646. The double frontispiece from the Nour collection, London, has been identified as the opening to the dispersed manuscript of c. 1710 by Linda Leach and certainly constitutes a grand paired composition showing the same subject.21 Here in a fairly complex arrangement King Bikram is shown on one side offering alms and on the other placing his head at the feet of the holy man. In the margins all around are bucolic outdoor scenes echoing the metaphor of gardens and nature. The similar composition and treatment of the decorated palace point to a relationship between this and the Philadelphia manuscript. King Bikram, taking on the guise of a yogi, goes into the forest to search for Rawshan Dil after the initial rejection by the holy man. A striking half-page illustration shows the Raja in his humble clothing carrying a beggar’s bowl, which appears to be a piece of Bidri ware (Fig. 12.4). All around him in a rocky setting reminiscent of the great landscapes characteristic of the Deccan are fierce animals such as the dragon shown below. The text describes this episode in a highly metaphorical manner:


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Figure 12.4  Bikram searches for the holy man.

Hardship was like a rosary around his neck, resignation was his bowl, contentment was the ashes the yogis rub on to their bodies, his sighs played the role of the horn; Patience was used as rings in the ear, Humility was the satchel; Worldly comfort was like the deer-hide to be trampled over…22 In the painting the interpretation is more literal, with most of these elements having a corresponding element such as bowl and satchel. When comparing with the same subject from the dispersed c. 1710 manuscript it is evident that the Philadelphia page is an abbreviated version of the earlier composition.23 The full-page illustration has been reduced in scale, but retains some of the more dramatic elements such as the dragon in the lower right. Continuing with the narrative, Bikram comes upon a garden where he sees seven fairies bathing in a cistern. Bewitched by their beauty and keen to have their help in finding Rawshan Dil, Bikram gathers up their clothes, returning them only after they agree to help him find the holy man. The verdant garden scene illustrating this episode is a particularly lavish painting, completed with rich colour and detail (Fig. 12.5).24 302

Figure 12.5  Bikram and the fairies.

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According to recent scholarship this scene represents a pivotal moment in the text and an important shift of mood in the tale. An illuminating passage from Ali Akbar Husain’s Scent in the Islamic Garden reads: Garden descriptions are interspersed throughout the narrative and serve to record and mirror the moments of joy and despair, of spiritual awakening or the kindling of love… A moment of respite in a forest garden, perfumed with agar and chandan trees and illuminated by fairies in a pool is suggestive of Bikram’s spiritual awakening.25 The popular subject of Krishna stealing the bathing gopīs’ clothes, which was a welldeveloped theme in Rajput painting by this time, may also have played some part in the development of this composition. This scene is depicted in both the Philadelphia manuscript as well as in a folio from the dispersed c. 1710 manuscript presently in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Fig. 12.6).26 A stylistic comparison of the two images supports Leach’s earlier dating of c. 1710 for

Figure 12.6  Bikram and the fairies. Folio from a c. 1710 dispersed copy of the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq (The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, no. 95.4.2).


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the dispersed series. This is particularly apparent in the greater refinement of the figural style, the richness of detail and the subdued colour palette of the Minneapolis page. The distinctive facial type seen in the Minneapolis page as well as in most of the other folios of the c. 1710 manuscript is characterized by a notably receding lower portion, finely etched eye and brow and a refined handling. By contrast in the Philadelphia folio Bikram’s profile is of an entirely different character, executed with a heavier hand, bolder line and with a denser application of colour and shadow. The details of the creeper and fern rising from the rock seem to be features of late Golconda painting, and while they are faithfully copied in the Philadelphia manuscript, their handling is more simplified and coarse. Mughal precedent is also seen in the treatment of the faces on the fairies in the Minneapolis folio, whose closeness to the Mughal style suggest a proximity of date. Certain further elements such as the slightly skewed red border fence around the pathways of the quadripartite garden in the Philadelphia folio also indicate its later descent from the original. The central subject of gardens is further illuminated by a digression into the Free Library 1815 Gulshan-i ‘Ishq manuscript, which is of a far more provincial character but further underscores the relationship between paintings and textiles within this artistic tradition.27 As in the Philadelphia Museum manuscript, floral imagery continues to form an important visual element in this book, but in the Free Library version textile motifs or patterns are often adapted without modifications into illustrations. This is seen in the example of a folio showing Chandersen swooning in a garden at the sight of Champavati, characters who occur slightly later in the narrative. Notably the garden here has been abstracted to a series of identical repeating blossoms on a plain ground – almost certainly drawn from patterns seen on blockprinted and painted textiles of the great kalamkārī tradition of the region.28 Returning to the Philadephia Museum Gulshan-i ‘Ishq, as the narrative continues the fairies direct Bikram to Rawshan Dil’s hermitage, from where he receives a special fruit to give to his queen in order for them to have a child.29 Bearing the fruit, he is then transported back to Kanakgir. The episode is shown in a charming composition (Fig. 12.7), which is a mirror-reversed and slightly expanded version of the illustration in the folio from the dispersed c. 1710 manuscript.30 At Kanakgir, after the magic fruit has served its purpose, Prince Manohar is born. In a skillful change of mood and through the extensive use of white and some areas of silver and green, the painting creates the gleaming palace described in the text. The colouristic spareness of the folios in this section of the manuscript show the controlled use of pigments. The silver has been applied specifically to metalwork objects appearing in the composition, including an ewer and basin, spittoon, bedposts, cradle and other mounts, 305

Figure 12.7  The fairies carry Bikram.

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condiment box and another covered vessel. The metaphor of light has been identified as another major symbolic element in the text to which the artist appears to have been sensitive, as demonstrated in this sequence of paintings set in the palace interior.31 In a celebrated and imaginative composition, occurring in both the Philadelphia32 and dispersed copy,33 nine angels flying overhead are drawn to Manohar’s palace below, where he sleeps next to his dā’ī or nursemaid, an important Sufi symbol of an interlocutor (she is shown asleep on the floor next to the bed) (Fig. 12.8). The fairies transport the sleeping Manohar away to the palace of Madhumalati, the eleven-year-old

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Figure 12.8  The fairies fly down to Manohar’s palace.


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Princess of Maharasnagar whom they consider to be his perfect match. Quoting again from Ali Akbar’s Scent in the Islamic Garden: To the flying fairies the king’s palace in the moonlight is a perfumed mountain (muambar jabal) drenched in light. Enveloped in a jewel-encrusted veil, its terraces shimmering like mica (abrak), its garden flowers like china cups filled with the milk of moonlight, the palace ‘is an illusion more enchanting than the reality of the heavens it mirrors.’34 Once transported to Madhumalati’s palace, a magical night was spent by the lovers together, who exchanged rings and bedsheets; when he awoke Manohar found himself back in his own palace and, distraught, fell into his father’s lap. The striking use of colour (red and white used to great contrasting effect) corresponds to the text wherein Madhumalati’s palace is described as red and beautifully decorated. The bedsheet that Manohar brings back with him expresses through its vivid colour, which is intensified against the whiteness around, the intense memory of the princess (Fig. 12.9).35 Associations can be loosely made with the pictorial traditions of Bahram Gur, where colour symbolism . ~..\_;.__)f a..:=::;,._,,__....;c.-.... =~,"'-' is a prominent feature in paintings of the hero’s visits to princesses of various climes.36 Search parties consisting of ‘clever and steady’ men, as described by the text, are sent out to look for Madhumalati but without any success. Eventually Manohar decides to take leave of his parents and search for Madhumalati himself. At sea Manohar has terrible adventures, including encountering Figure 12.9  Manohar is distraught without Madhumalati. dangerous sea-serpents,




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depicted in dramatic compositions showing the attack of one monster, and its own subsequent termination by another even more fierce specimen (Fig. 12.10).37 Although his fleet is lost, Manohar survives on a small raft and arrives on land, where he enters a dense and mysterious forest where neither sunlight nor moonlight penetrates, called Kajliban. At the heart of the Philadelphia manuscript lies one of its most striking paintings, which represents an important spiritual moment in the narrative. In the depth of the Kajliban forest Manohar encounters a dervish who gives him a magic wheel with which to meet challenges when all else fails. This mystical meeting is the subject Figure 12.10  Manohar encounters sea-monsters.


Figure 12.11  Manohar meets a dervish.

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of an imaginative composition labelled ‘Forest of the intoxicated dervish’ (darwīsh sarmast kā mast ban) in the accompanying label rosette (Fig. 12.11).38 According to the text synopsis: After having walked for six months in the wood known as a Kajli Ban Manohar saw a light. There was a piece of clearing, circular in shape, over which the sun shone. In that ring of light Manohar could see a hermit sitting who was fully absorbed in meditation. He had, it seemed, reached the zenith of renunciation… His locks of hair stretched out like hanging twigs in which birds had made their nests. His arms and legs were thin like dry sticks but his body shone like the Moon. Since he was thin he looked like a crescent curved on sides. His eyes twinkled like stars but his lips were tight.39 The wizened figure of the dervish is arresting in its emaciated profile and intense and penetrating gaze. Aditya Behl pointed out that the nature of the looks exchanged between the two figures, where the holy man stares directly at Manohar, who in turn has an upward and perhaps more inward gaze, may reflect a tradition of Sufi transmission.40 It is also possible that the treatment of the dervish’s figure is partly related to contemporary depictions of an emaciated Majnun surrounded by wild animals from the classic Persian tale. The artist seems to have been sensitive to the textual description of the ring of light within which the hermit appears. Aside from the light colour of his blue-grey body (possibly meant to indicate the smearing of ashes), the ground just beyond the outline of the figure has been skillfully pigmented in such a way as to convey a subtle radiance emanating from the dervish’s body. His hair contains what seem to be tiny yellow birds (appearing somewhat snake-like) in keeping with the description in the text. Fierce animals all around appear docile and apparently tamed in the holy man’s presence – they include a dragon in the trees above, tigers below, a scorpion and several snakes, some curling around his body. In the lower right corner appears a feline with raised front paw – this unusual element seems to be related to Deccan metalwork, more specifically incense burners, of which several in a similar form are known.41 It also may be compared to the series of leonine forms appearing on the cakravartin seven-stepped throne on a well-known folio of the earlier Bijapur manuscript of the Nujūm al-‘Ulūm.42 Its presence in the present composition may be to evoke reference to this symbol of worldly power. Following Manohar’s encounter with the dervish, the narrative now introduces Champavati, Madhumalati’s friend, who is rescued by Manohar with the aid of the magic ring from a demon who has kept her captive in a garden pavilion. Champavati 311

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is destined to marry Chandersen, rescuer of Madhumalati, who is soon to be turned into a bird by her irate mother. This symmetry of the paired romantic themes and the matching of other elements (such as the corresponding lovers’ names sharing the same opening consonants or sounds) has been noted as a characteristic structural feature of this and other related texts.43 The sequence in the story concerning Champavati and Manohar is set entirely in a garden, the poetic descriptions of which evoke a setting usually depicted thus – a large densely planted garden bisected by water channels with a citraśāla (‘picturehouse’) pavilion in the middle and a water reservoir with a fountain.44 Several folios in the Philadephia manuscript are devoted to Manohar’s subduing of the demon whose fearsome form is an adaptation of dīw iconography from the larger Indo-Persian tradition. His body is massively oversized and covered in spotted dark fur; he is multi-headed with protruding fangs and horns and flaming tongue; he wears bells and carries a mace in his taloned hands. Manohar eventually manages to decapitate all the demon’s heads, succeeding with his magic ring where his sword fails. Escaping from the garden Champavati and Manohar don patchwork robes intended to disguise her as a man (and both of them as dervishes) and a final moment in the garden pavilion depicts them thus attired, each pining for their lover and family (Fig. 12.12). The

Figure 12.12  Manohar and Champavati in a barren garden.


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barren and dry trees all around reflect the inner desolation of the couple and the setting again conveys the mood and theme of the text through the visual metaphor of the garden. Through the help of Champavati after she is returned to her kingdom, Manohar and Madhumalati are united in the Farah Bagh (the Joy-Bestowing Garden), a lush and beautiful setting appropriate to their long-desired meeting. The lovers are unfortunately discovered by Madhumalati’s disapproving mother, who in her anger inadvertently uses a spell to turn her into a bird. Several folios in this part of the Philadelphia manuscript are devoted to these events which take place in the Farah Bagh; thus a concentration of garden and pavilion scenes occur again, seemingly reflecting the idealized importance of this particular garden. Ali Akbar Husain further sheds light on the Farah Bagh: The Garden of Union is a garden of light and perfume. Its flower beds (takhte) are ablaze with gind makhmal (African marigold) and gul-i awrang (globe amaranth) with kalgha-i atishi (Celosia cristata) and lala (poppy). The scent of the madan ban (Artabotrys odorastissimus) bushes is more intoxicating than wine; the hue of the sankesar flowers (Mesua ferea) brighter than henna-dyed fingers. Its gul-i chand (Moonflower) is the envy of the moon, its gul-i sur (sunflower) the envy of the sun. The knots of rayhan (a species of basil) more enticing than the curls of the beloved, diffuse fragrance in the plots; the spike of kewra (screwpine) like a comet’s tail sends fragrance aloft. The line of sarw (cypresses) along the walks are the line of houris in Paradise. In the phul mandwas (arbours) flowers spin and weave endlessly; and the blue waterlily-filled pool within each chaman is a mina-filled silver tray. The garden plots dense with trees are green velvet canopies (mandap) below which the ground, a page of green, is sprinkled, now with silver, now with gold.45 The lists of fruit mentioned in the Farah Bagh is extensive and detailed, and although the paintings of the garden are rich with details of vegetation they do not entirely reflect the varieties in the text. Among the fruits mentioned are Iranian/Turanian types including apple (sīb), quince (safarjal), jujube (bīr), grape (angūr), fig (anjīr), mulberry (tūt), almond (bādām), walnut (akhroṭ), pinenut (chilghoza). In addition, there are mangoes (naghzak), bananas (mawz), rose apple (jāmun and jām), oranges (narangiyān), citron (jhambirriyān), lime (nībū), starfruit (kamrakh), jack fruit (phannas), pineapple (annas), sugarcane (nayshakar), tindū, durian (duryan) and others. 313

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Figure 12.13  Manohar and Madhumalati on their wedding night.

Ali Akbar Husain lists sixty-seven types of trees, forty shrubs and numerous scented plants that occur in mathnawīs, indicating that such richness is also to be found in other sources.46 Madhumalati is eventually rescued and restored to her human form with the help of Chandersen, future bridegroom of Champavati. Soon after Manohar and 314

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Madhumalati are reunited and all the complications of the plot begin to resolve themselves. The Gulshan-i ‘Ishq reaches its climactic end with all parties reconciling and each pair of lovers marrying. The last several folios of the Philadelphia manuscript are devoted to renderings of emotional meetings, marriage preparations, processions and ceremonies.47 A palette of red and gold dominates this last section, which is slightly repetitive in its compositional range. Among the very last few images are depictions of the lavishly decorated wedding canopy; the virtuosity with which this subject is depicted deserves comment (Fig. 12.13). The lovers are shown within, lying together on their wedding night. Heavy gold brocade with a floral trellis pattern hangs down on each side and the artist manages to convey its lustre and sheerness through which the faces of the lovers can be seen. Floral motifs and flowers are to be seen everywhere and wherever gold is applied, it is lavishly pricked, chiselled and worked. One of the notable pieces of evidence in the Philadelphia manuscript is the presence of several sheets of very thin, translucent paper placed between illustrated folios which contain tracings of some of the compositions. These appear to have been the means by which these compositions were either derived from another source, or more likely (since these appear largely to be tracings of these very pages) copied for another version of the manuscript. In either case they confirm the well-established tradition of copying entire manuscripts in the Deccan. In conclusion, the Philadelphia Museum manuscript of the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq represents a high point in Deccani painting tradition in terms of its importance as a piece of dated, inscribed and complete evidence, as well as its manifest artistic merit. As demonstrated, the compositions within its folios are closely derived from an earlier dispersed manuscript of c. 1710. This earlier manuscript can on a stylistic basis be fairly securely placed within the early Hyderabad tradition, an attribution which has traditionally also been extended to the Philadelphia manuscript. The name of the calligrapher/artist and patron invite further study toward investigating its place and circumstances of creation and its later Mysore provenance. It is hoped that this survey of a selection of the painted folios of the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq has demonstrated the manner in which its compositions employ imagery and colour in keeping with the text’s main metaphorical elements; draw an array of decorative elements from wide sources; and intensify the mood and spirit of the narrative through imaginative compositions.


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Notes 1 Illustrated manuscript of the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq (‘Flower Garden of Love’), dated 1155–56 H/1742–43 CE, opaque watercolour, gold and ink on paper; leather binding with embossed gilding, India (Deccan, Andhra Pradesh, probably Hyderabad). Philadelphia Museum of Art, accession number 1945–65–22. Gift of Mrs. Philip S. Collins in memory of her husband, 1945–65–22. The author acknowledges the generosity of Dr. Darielle Mason and Lesley Vasilyev in making the manuscript and curatorial files accessible. 2 T.N. Devare, A Short History of Persian Literature at the Bahmani, the Adil Shahi and the Qutbshahi Courts, Deccan (Pune, 1961), 121, gives a short account of Nusrati and his place in Bijapur literary tradition; Richard M. Eaton, Sufis of Bijapur, 1300–1700: Social Roles of Sufis in Medieval India (Princeton, NJ, 1978), 188–89. 3 The author acknowledges the help of Qamar Adamjee, who kindly shared her forthcoming work on the Chandāyan. 4 Mañjhan, Madhumālāti: An Indian Sufi Romance, tr. Aditya Behl and Simon Weightman (Oxford, 2000), xvi–xix; Ali Akbar Husain, Scent in the Islamic Garden, A Study of Deccan Urdu Literary Sources (Oxford, 2000), 160–61; Linda York Leach, ‘The Illustration of Romances in the Deccan,’ in Paintings from India (London, 1998), 240–45. Also P. Gaeffke, ‘Madhumalati and the Gulshan-i ‘Ishq: A Question of Originality,’ in The Banyan Tree: Essays on Early Literature in New Indo-Aryan Languages, ed. M. Offredi, vol. 1, 61–67 (Delhi, 2000); and Wonder-Tales of South Asia, tr. S. Digby ( Jersey, CI, 2000). 5 The person responsible for the translation/resume was Dr. A.H. Qateel in the Department of Urdu, Osmania University, Hyderabad. Stella Kramrisch made the arrangements for the translation through one of Dr. Qateel’s colleagues, Professor Masud Husain Khan, Head of the Department of Urdu at Osmania University. The correspondence between Stella Kramrisch and Professor Khan dates from 1965–66 and, like the resume, is presently stored in the files at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 6 Kalpana Desai et al., Jewels on the Crescent: Masterpieces of the Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India (Bombay, 2002), no. 135. 7 Desai et al., Jewels on the Crescent, nos. 134, 135. This manuscript is dated 1711, contains 53 illustrations on a total of 82 folios, and is recorded as having been painted at Bidar. 8 Various dispersed folios from this manuscript are: Christie’s, Important Islamic and Indian Manuscripts and Miniatures (London, 11 October, 1979), lots 183–89; Christie’s, Islamic, Indian, Southeast Asian Manuscripts, Miniatures and Works of Art (London, 28 November, 1983), lots 141–43; Leach, Paintings from India, 244, no. 73; id., 244, note 4, matches folios of the dispersed manuscript to others illustrating the same subject; Zebrowski, Deccani Painting (London, 1983), 224, figs. 195, 196 (fig. 196 is from the Binney Collection, San Diego Museum of Art); Daniel J. Ehnbom, Indian Miniatures: The Ehrenfeld Collection (New York, NY, 1985), 90–91, nos. 37, 38; Stella Kramrisch, Painted Delight


gulshan-i ‘ishq (Philadelphia, PA, 1986), pls. 34–35; Sotheby’s, Indian and Southeast Asian Art (New York, NY, 30 November, 1994), lot 4, now in The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, no. 95.4.2. 9 James Fuller Blumhardt, Catalogue of the Hindi, Panjabi and Hindustani MSS in the Library of the British Museum (London, 1899), Hind, C, No. 45; Aloys Sprenger, Persian and Hindustani Poetry, vol. 1 of A Catalogue of the Arabic, Persian and Hindustani Manuscripts of the Libraries of the King of Oudh (Calcutta, 1854), cat. no. 630. 10 Muhammed Ahmed Simsar, Oriental Manuscripts of the John Frederick Lewis Collection in the Free Library of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA, 1937), 172–73, no. 98, pl. xxxv, gives the following description: ‘Gulshan-i ‘Ishq, 204 folios, 11 ½ x 7 inches, 17 lines to a page, each 4 ½ inches long; written in nasta’liq script; 214 illustrations; made for Raja Kishan Raj Bahadur, by the scribe Muhammad Gawth Suwar, dated 1815.’ 11 Peter Gaeffke, ‘The Garden of Light and the Forest of Darkness in Dakhni Sufi Literature and Painting,’ Artibus Asiae 48/3–4 (1987), note 1, mentions a dozen separate manuscripts as well as a modernized version possibly based on several manuscripts in Hyderabad edited by Saiyyad Muhammad (1956?); Husain, Scent in the Islamic Garden, 182, note 1, also mentions the same edition. It has been reported that a further copy lies in the Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo. 12 Leach, Paintings from India, 243, notes 13 and 14, list various illustrated copies. 13 Double-sided folios are numbered up to 446. 14 The author acknowledges the late Aditya Behl, who read and interpreted the colophon and provided numerous other insights into the manuscript and the text; Gaeffke, ‘Garden of Light,’ 224, note 1, also discusses the colophon. 15 Charles Stewart, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Oriental Library of the Late Tipu Sultan of Mysore (Cambridge, 1809), 179, indicates that the manuscript must have been in the United Kingdom. 16 Husain, Scent in the Islamic Garden, 154; id., ‘Reading Gardens in Deccani Court Poetry,’ unpublished paper, further discusses this subject. 17 Gaeffke, ‘Garden of Light,’ 224–34. 18 This has been pointed out in an exhibition label in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 19 Zebrowski, Deccani Painting, 244–81, discusses Hyderabad and various provincial Deccan courts. 20 Leach, Paintings from India, 244, no. 73; Zebrowski, Deccani Painting, 225, fig. 197; this work, attributed to Bidar, appears to be illustrating the same subject. 21 Leach, Paintings from India, 244, no. 73; M.B. Piotrovsky and J.M. Rogers, Heaven on Earth: Art from Islamic Lands (London, 2004), 142–43, nos. 94, 95; Sotheby’s, Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art (New York, NY, 21–22 March, 1990), lot 64. 22 ‘Resume,’ summary translation in Philadelphia Museum of Art curatorial file, 1. 23 Cf. Christie’s, Islamic and Indian Manuscripts, 53, lot 184, pl. 33. 24 Gaeffke, ‘Garden of Light,’ 224 -34; pl. 1 in colour illustrates the Philadelphia Museum folio. 25 Husain, Scent in the Islamic Garden, 165.


The Visual World of Muslim India 26 Folio from the c. 1710 dispersed copy: Sotheby’s, Indian and Southeast Asian Art, lot 4, now in The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, no. 95.4.2. Thanks are due to Alessandra Cereda for bringing this painting to the author’s attention. 27 Simsar, Oriental Manuscripts, 172. 28 John Irwin and Margaret Hall, Indian Painted and Printed Fabrics (Ahmadabad, 1971), pls. 62–43, illustrate comparable printed fabrics. 29 Gaeffke, ‘Garden of Light,’ 224–34, pl. 2. 30 Christie’s, Islamic and Indian Manuscripts, 53, lot 186, pl. 34. 31 Gaeffke, ‘Garden of Light,’ 229. 32 Madhumālāti, cover illustration. 33 Christie’s, Islamic and Indian Manuscripts, 54, lot 187, pl. 187, also reproduced in colour in the catalogue. 34 Husain, Scent in the Islamic Garden, 166. 35 Christie’s, Islamic and Indian Manuscripts, 53, lot 183, pl.183, illustrates the same subject from the dispersed c. 1710 manuscript. 36 Peter J. Chelkowski, Mirror of the Invisible World: Tales from the Khamseh of Nizami (New York, NY, 1975), 69–112, discusses the stories of the seven princesses each in their individually coloured pavilion; see also Annemarie Schimmel and Priscilla Soucek, ‘Color Symbolism in Persian Literature and Art,’ Encyclopedia Iranica Online, ed. Ehsan Yarshater (15 December, 1992). 37 Christie’s, Islamic and Indian Manuscripts, 54, lot 185, pl.185, illustrates the same subject from the c. 1710 manuscript. 38 Treasures of the Philadelphia Art Museum, ed. H. Marcus (Philadelphia, PA, 1973), 30. Another similar but smaller illustration from the manuscript has been published in Kramrisch, Painted Delight, 163 and pls. 34–36; Gaeffke, ‘Garden of Light,’ 224–34, pl. 11. 39 ‘Resume,’ summary translation in Philadelphia Museum of Art curatorial file, 7, 8. 40 Aditya Behl, personal communication. 41 Mark Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India (London, 1997), 103, nos. 109–13. 42 Linda York Leach, Mughal and other Indian Paintings from the Chester Beatty Library, vol. 2 (London, 1995), 856, col. pl. 117. 43 Simon Weightman, ‘The Symmetry of Madhumalati,’ in Madhumālāti, 229–41. 44 Gaeffke, ‘Garden of Light,’ 224 -34; col. pl. 5, illustrates a scene in the citraśāla from the Philadelphia manuscript. 45 Husain, Scent in the Islamic Garden, 167. 46 Ibid. 47 Gaeffke, ‘Garden of Light,’ 224 -34; col. pl. 8, illustrates a scene showing an emotional embrace between Manohar and Chandersen.


13 Sacr ed Spaces a nd O bjects of Popu l a r D ecca ni Musli m D evotiona l P r actices —Omar Khalidi—


ormative, scriptural Islam’s sacred spaces are limited to the two ḥarams of Mecca and Medina. Jerusalem too is traditionally considered sacred, as it is the site where God is to appear in His majesty on Judgment Day1 as well as being the place of Prophet Muhammad’s ascent to heaven, the mi‘rāj. For the Shiites, Karbala and Kufa in Iraq, the site of Ali’s tomb-shrine and the site of martyrdom of Ali’s son Husayn constitute places of special veneration for pilgrimage. Such is the case with Mashhad in Iran, where Imam Ali al-Riza is buried. Beyond these cities in the Middle East, there are numerous sites and objects of popular Muslim devotional practices wherever believers are found. While they lack sanction in law – sharī‘a – sacred spaces and their associated practices and festivals have been sanctified by widespread popular Muslim acceptance since the growth of Islam in India. What then are those spaces and objects of Muslim devotional practices in the Deccan? When did they come about? Who are the visitors to these sacred spaces, and what are their typical experiences? To what can we attribute the amazing resilience of sacred spaces and their associated practices despite more than two centuries of opposition from reform movements? The answers to these questions will illuminate the religious life of Muslim communities in the Deccan.

Introduction The fifth pillar of Islam is ḥajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca during the month of Dhu’lHijja. If he or she can afford to travel, every Muslim is expected to make the canonical 319

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pilgrimage to Mecca and other sites in that holy city in the Hijaz. For a Muslim the ḥajj is the ultimate act of worship. Though not a canonical requirement, most Muslims pray at the Prophet’s mosque in Medina immediately after the ḥajj, followed by a ziyāra (sacred visitation) to his tomb and the remains of nine chambers of his wives called al-Hujurat al-Sharifa within the mosque.2 Other examples of sacred spaces include the tombs of the Prophet Muhammad’s successors and companions in the al-Baqi cemetery in Medina,3 the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the shrine of Ali ibn Abi Talib (d. 661 ce) in Kufa and that of his son Imam Husayn (d. 680 ce) in Karbala. In Hadramawt, the concepts of ḥaram and ḥawṭa designated sacred space.4 Visiting graves of ancestors is a custom that has been recorded at least since the early ninth century in Islamic Egypt: a gravestone carved in August 803 ce concludes with the expression: God have mercy on whoever reads this inscription and prays for mercy on behalf of the one buried here.5 This formula became common throughout the Islamic world from the ninth century onwards, and it suggests that visiting tombs and praying over and on behalf of the dead was already a well-established practice by the beginning of the ninth century, though not without significant resistance among some of the believers.6 Similar formulaic statements on tombstones are also found in medieval and modern India.7 Beginning in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, pilgrimage sites proliferated in the Islamic world due to the rise of Sufi orders and increased patronage by rulers and others.8 In India, the tomb of Muinuddin Chishti (d. 1236) in Ajmer, present-day Rajasthan, represents the first major example of a Muslim sacred site.9 The dargāhs of Sufi saints in Gujarat, the Deccan, Delhi, Deva, Fathpur Sikri, Kaliyar and Nagaur are obvious examples.10

Sacred spaces in the Deccan: the dargāhs The sacred spaces of Islam in the Deccan, as in much of the Indian Subcontinent, are associated with the dargāhs of Sunni Sufi saints, and the ‘āshūrkhānas of the Shiites. The dargāhs (Figs. 13.1, 13.2, 13.3) display varying degrees of complexity but are united by one common element: the tomb of the saint, which in the simplest cases is in itself the whole dargāh, and which even in the most complex ones constitutes the central element. The usual word for tomb is qabr, in Arabic as well as Persian 320

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Figure 13.1  The grave of Sultan-Quli, founder of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, Hyderabad (photograph by Robert Alan Simpkins).

and Urdu; most tombs of ordinary people in cemeteries are thus called, but once the deceased begins to be venerated as a saint, his tomb is ascribed an exalted name, that of mazār, a place of visitation, and the act of visiting a mazār is called ziyāra. A tomb may be very simply indicated: a stone slab with a layer of stucco or cement, often but not always with an inscription in Arabic, Persian or Urdu. As the reputation of the saint grows, a patron may erect a chaukhanḍī, four pillars around the tomb, topped by a roof crowned with a dome, with space for visitors (zāyirs) to recite prayers. The richer the patron the grander the tomb becomes, with the addition of finer building materials such as marble, ceramic tiles, and chandeliers. Now at this stage, the shrine may be called a dargāh, with the saint’s tomb draped in rich, inscribed, colourful fabric, often green, called a chādar or ghilāf. Visitors may shower flower petals, burn incense and light candles. The dargāh now expands with the addition of a mosque, a samā‘khāna (the ‘hall of listening,’ also known as a Sufi theatre), a madrasa and a hospice, variously called khānaqāh, tākiya or zāwiya, presided over by charismatic leaders known 321

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Figure 13.2  Dargāh of Yusuf Sharif Baba, Hyderabad (photograph by Robert Alan Simpkins).

as pīrs, murshids and shaykhs, often but not always both biological and spiritual descendants of Sufis. Richer dargāhs may even contain a collection of manuscripts housed in a library, pertaining to the speeches and writings of the Sufis. Rulers and the nobility often provided land grants for the dargāhs while others would pay for the cost of digging a well and the construction of a building for the comfort of the zāyirs. Once the dargāh acquires land, properties and other assets, it is established as a foundation and recognized as a legal entity by civil and judicial authorities.11 (Figs. 13.2, 13.3) Chilla, a word derived from chihil, ‘forty’ in Persian, is a term used to denote the Sufi space of isolation for penance, traditionally lasting forty days; these are not as widespread as the dargāhs.12 Footprints (Qadam-i Rasūl) on ground or hills (or even encased footprints in stone) believed to be those of Prophet Muhammad, impressions of Ali’s palm in stone and flags associated with Abdul Qadir Gilani (1077–1166), the founder of the Qadiri order, on trees are various examples of sacred objects.13 322

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Figure 13.3  Dargāh of Shah Raju, Hyderabad (photograph by Robert Alan Simpkins).

Dargāhs, mostly of Sunni orientation in the Deccan, date from the time of the Bahmanis (r. 1347–1527) or in some cases even earlier. This is where ‘urs and their associated practices take place. ‘Urs, the ritual programme surrounding the anniversary of the death of Sufi masters, is familiar to anyone throughout the Deccan and South Asia. As an event combining spirituality, festivity and even entertainment, it often cuts across religious boundaries to attract pilgrims and onlookers from all backgrounds. An elaborate series of rituals comprise ‘urs, beginning with ghusl, the ritual washing of the tomb, and continuing with sandalmālī, application of fragrant wooden paste to the tomb; chirāghān, illumination with electric and oil lamps; and fātiḥa, recitation of the first chapter of the Qur’an. At the heart of Sufism is dhikr (Urdu: zikr). It is based on a recurring theme in the Qur’an: ‘The supreme thing is the remembrance [dhikr] of God who knows what you all are doing’ (29:45). ‘Remember God frequently [so] that prosperity may be yours’ (62:10). Sufism takes this idea to its extreme: the ultimate goal of the Sufi is constant remembrance of God, to the point of forgetting the self, to the point where there is nothing but the divine presence. The term generally used is fanā’, which 323

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translates roughly as ‘annihilation.’ To achieve fanā’ is to be subsumed in the divine presence. A classical metaphor for fanā’ is the moth, the seeker, attracted to a candle flame, the divine presence, by which it is burnt. The various Sufi orders (ṭarīqas) are all paths of drawing closer to the flame, of gaining knowledge and experience of the flame. Ultimately, however, to know the flame is to join it. Short of the ultimate goal of fanā’ is wajd, divine ecstasy. It may be explained as a brief glimpse of divine reality, almost a temporary fanā’. Qawwālī, devotional music, accompanied by drums and harmonium, aids the temporary achievement of fanā’ and forms an important part of the ‘urs rituals, though it may also be performed on other occasions. During ‘urs, amidst an air thick with the fragrance of rose, motiā, chanbelī and kewrā flowers, supplemented with incense-burning, the assembly of pious men and women listen to qawwālī and view the sacred, auspicious relics (āthār-i mubārak), consisting of the hair of the Prophet’s beard and his sandals. The peacock-feather wand used by the Sufi master and others in the dargāh is imbued with the symbolism of authority and power, temporal and spiritual.

Sacred spaces in the Deccan: the ‘āshūrkhānas Turning to the Shiite spaces of popular devotion, it is important to remember that the Qutb Shahs ruled the eastern Deccan from 1518 to 1687, based in the fort-capital of Golconda. The Qutb Shahs professed Shiism. In 1591 Sultan Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah, the fifth ruler, laid the foundation of Hyderabad with its wide avenues, waterworks, civic and sacred buildings. Among the sacred buildings were the ‘āshūrkhānas. ‘Āshūrkhāna literally means ‘house of the tenth’ (relating to the month of Muharram, from the day of the month when the festival is celebrated) and refers to the construction housing the congregation and the objects of Muharram observations by Shiites. Under the discerning patronage of the Qutb Shahi sultans, Hyderabad became a veritable centre of Persianate culture and Shiite devotion, interrupted only by the Mughal conquest of Golconda in 1687, which adversely affected the Shiite complexion of Hyderabad. However, less than a century later, under several Shiite dīwāns of Nizam Ali Khan (r. 1763–1803), Shiite beliefs and practices flourished again as the ‘āshūrkhānas were repaired and restored.14 Since that time Hyderabad resumed its role as the main centre of Shiite devotion in the Deccan with a profusion of ‘ashūrkhānas. In fact, under Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last reigning Nizam (r. 1911–48), Muharram observations reached a height rivalled only in Lucknow.15 It is unsurprising that the last major architectural project of Mir Osman Ali Khan was the construction of a massive ‘āshūrkhāna, the Azakhana-i Zahra, in 1942 (Fig. 13.4). 324

Figure 13.4  Azakhana-i Zahra (photograph © Arjun Mangaldas, 1986. Courtesy of the MIT Libraries, Aga Khan Visual Archive).

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Figure 13.5  Moula Ali Hill, Hyderabad (photograph by Robert Alan Simpkins).

An earlier ‘āshūrkhāna stems from the alleged site of Ali’s footprint found on a hill in Malkajgiri in the early Qutb Shahi era (during the 1570s). The hilly site blossomed into a fully fledged ‘āshūrkhāna, which began to be called Koh-i Moula Ali, complete with arched entrances topped by a drum chamber, walls, and with a long stairway leading up the hill to the shrine. In due course, a water well, a cistern, inscribed tombs, mosques and gardens sprung up, transforming the whole hill into a sacred space (Fig. 13.5).16 In all there are fifteen ‘āshūrkhānas of historical and artistic significance, not counting the most recent one of architectural merit, the Azakhana-i Zahra.17 The most important of these is the Badshahi (Royal) Ashurkhana, built between 1593 and 1596, even before the Qutb Shahi capital’s Jami Masjid and Mecca Masjid, which is indicative of the Shiite affiliation of the rulers. The Badshahi Ashurkhana (Fig. 13.6) stands on a raised platform and consists primarily of a flat-roofed rectangular hall supported by four pillars. The hall’s interior, including three niches on the west wall and one niche each on the north and south walls, is covered with cut-enamel 326

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Persian tiles, considered the finest in India. Arranged in large panels, the tiles are blue, white, yellow, green and plain terracotta. One panel depicts a giant standard containing a mirrored Arabic inscription flanked by two smaller standards. Another panel contains a vase-of-plenty (cornucopia) design, while others depict fine geometric and stylized floral patterns. Arabic and Persian inscriptions both adorn and record the various stages of the building’s construction. The other historic ‘āshūrkhānas are built inside high exterior walls, containing spacious courtyards, complete with tilework, carpets, chandeliers and precious lamps within, donated by the nobility and the Nizams, the rulers of the Deccan. Charitable trusts (sg. waqf, pl. awqāf) maintain the older ‘āshūrkhānas. The purpose, or function, of the ‘āshūrkhānas is twofold and interrelated. First, the ‘āshūrkhāna serves as the site where a public gathering (majlis) of mourners is held in the month of Muharram, being a yearly commemoration of Karbala martyrs. It begins with a marthīya, a recitation of funeral laments in Urdu by a chorus of men. A sermon is then given by a reciter, the zākir. The sermon is highly structured: invocation of divine blessings and praise of the Prophetic family, a description of the merits of the

Figure 13.6  Badshahi Ashurkhana (photograph © Arjun Mangaldas 1986. Courtesy of the MIT Libraries, Aga Khan Visual Archive).


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martyrs of Karbala, with reflections on how their virtues might guide the believers’ conduct today. This section is followed by the evocation of maṣā‘ib (sufferings) endured by the martyrs and the rapacious cruelty of their persecutors. The sermon lasts from about twenty-five minutes to an hour. As the zākir narrates the sufferings, his voice quivers with emotion. The audience reacts by expressing grief: quietly at first, in low groans and sighs, then more and more loudly until, by the conclusion of the maṣā‘ib narration, virtually all are crying, slapping their thighs or heads, or concealing their faces with handkerchiefs as they sob. At this point the sermon ends, and the mourners stand up to recite ritual prayers in Arabic in honour of the Twelve Imams of the Shiites. Finally, the assembly of mourners bows in the direction of the Shiite shrines in Iraq and Iran. The second function of the ‘āshūrkhāna relates to its sacred status as the depository of the ‘alams. These are copies of the battle-standards or banners that the martyrs held at Karbala during a battle in which Husayn, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, was killed in 680 ce on the tenth of Muharram, whence the Ashura festival derives. The ‘alams and associated objects are taken out on street processions during Muharram, which is observed as a month of mourning, the major procession taking place on the tenth. The ‘alams are to the Deccan what ta‘zīyas are to Lucknow and the wider Shiite world.18 Shiite traditions are quite diverse: just as ta‘zīya, a word signifying mourning, takes the form of a passion play in Iran, ritual narration in Iraq, and ephemeral architecture in the form of replicas of Husayn’s tomb in Lucknow and northern India, so also ‘alams are the chief objects associated with Shiite mourning in the Deccan.19 The battle-standard in its most basic form is a metal crest that, when displayed on its nayza or lance-pole, is often draped with dhattis (banners in the form of velvet or brocaded cloth) and sometimes covered with sandalwood paste as a mark of devotion. Some of the older ‘alams in shrines open to the public contain relics associated with the sufferings of Husayn and his companions. Wealthier families boast ‘alams of bronze or heavy silver, some manufactured outside Hyderabad. The surface of each standard is usually inscribed with a dedication consecrating it to one or the other martyrs of Karbala. The top of the standard is often carved in the shape of a panja or mystic protective hand, with the names of the panjtān-i pāk (‘the five pure ones,’ i.e. Muhammad, Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husayn) inscribed thereon. The borders of some ‘alams are shaped with floral motifs, grape clusters or dragons’ heads; others are surmounted by a carving of the dhū’l-fiqār, the sword of Ali. ‘Alams constitute both a major part of the iconography of Muharram and a focal point of popular devotion in Hyderabad. Many of the standards are adorned with 328

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symbols which, for the viewer conversant with Shiite iconography, conjure up the events associated with the martyr to whom a given ‘alam is consecrated. The standard of Ali, universally regarded among Muslims as a brave man, is frequently shown as surmounted by the dhū’l-fiqār. The standard of Abbas is ornamented with a mashq, the representation of a water-skin, since Abbas, the half-brother and bodyguard of Husayn, was killed while trying to bring water from the Euphrates to Husayn’s family tormented by thirst. While most ‘alams are kept away from view for much of the year, they become visible at the beginning of Muharram. The pious visit and garland the ‘alams as they seek the intercession of the martyrs or affirm their loyalty to the Prophet’s family. Some ‘alams are carried outside of ‘āshūrkhānas (but within the precincts) on specific dates in Muharram for ease of viewing before putting them away again. The ‘alams represent the central feature of the Muharram processions, which start from ‘āshūrkhānas. The largest procession on Ashura is called Bi-Ka-Alam (or Bibi-Ka-Alam), and includes the ‘alam of Fatima, daughter of the Prophet, wife of Ali and mother of Husayn. The Bibi-Ka-Alam is mounted on a huge and venerable elephant. The procession winds through narrow and crowded streets from the Char Minar in the centre of Hyderabad’s historic core eastwards to the Musi River. As the procession moves along its path, it pauses at appointed places to permit members of the traditional feudal families or municipal and state government authorities to view the ‘alam and offer a garland and dhatti. Along the route, associations of young men, each identified by its own banner, perform mātam, acts of mourning and self-mortification carried out by beating chests, foreheads or bare backs with whips and chains. One member stands by with bottles of disinfectant to wash the wounds. The procession terminates at the Musi River where some of the ‘alams are immersed, thus cooling the passion raised by the mātam. Devout Shiites justify mātam as a pious act of love for the martyrs of Karbala, as well as the sharing and experiencing of their pain.20

Characteristics of sacred spaces Historical accounts frequently speak of the efficacious qualities of sacred spaces of ziyāra, holy visits to dargāhs, ‘āshūrkhānas or cemeteries: the presence of baraka (also: barakat, spiritual blessing or charisma), the descent of lights from heaven, pleasant smells, God answering a believer’s supplication on behalf of the deceased, and the appearance of prophets and other holy men in dreams. These occurrences have a profound impact on Muslims to the extent that they often 329

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result in repentance, the embracing of Islam, or the construction and endowment of mosques and shrines.

Social composition of zāyirs: the visitors to the sacred spaces Although canonical prayers (ṣalāt, namāz) are obligatory for both male and female Muslim believers, the force of custom in the Subcontinent and elsewhere make mosques an exclusively male domain. While some monumental mosques have spaces designated for women belonging to the royalty for special occasions, as a rule women have been historically absent from mosques. In modern-day India, given the lack of space in mosques even for men during Friday prayers, the presence of women in mosques is out of the question. By contrast, the environment in dargāhs is more welcoming to women (Figs. 13.7, 13.2), although they are still barred from the grave of the saint. India’s lower castes and tribes, long excluded from Hindu temples, find the dargāhs especially attractive given the egalitarian environment most intensely felt during canonical prayers (namāz): when believers pray shoulder to shoulder in straight lines; the socialization when zāyirs shake hands with them and embrace them; and finally langar, the distribution of food and its consumption on special occasions. In an environment saturated with notions of ritual purity and pollution, the sight of congregational prayers and unrestricted socialization culminating in inter-dining has presented a dramatic contrast to many dalits and it continues to do so in contemporary India.

Sacred spaces and shared experiences Spaces and sites associated with Sufi saints, ‘āshūrkhānas and places of public gathering for ritual observances represent the sacred geography of Islam in the Deccan. A space or site becomes sacred if a Sufi saint is buried there or religious objects such as relics are stored there for ritual worship. Traditional architecture transforms the space of the physical world in which we live into a space that reflects the sacred. The Arabic script and by extension texts in Persian and Urdu occupy a central place in Islamic art and calligraphy is the foremost of its characteristic modes of visual expression. It is rare to find an Islamic sacred site that does not contain any writing. In fact, it may be suggested that the mere inclusion of an Arabic epigraph on a monument 330

sacred spaces and objects

Figure 13.7  Dargāh of Khwaja Hussain Shah Wali, Hyderabad (photograph by Robert Alan Simpkins).

gives it an Islamic character. Thus traditional architecture embellished with inscriptions in Arabic, Persian and Urdu further enhances the sacred character of spaces occupied by dargāhs, ‘āshūrkhānas and other sites associated with Muslim religious observances. All around the world there are certain places which seem to manifest a special quality where the spiritual dimensions of life are more apparent, such as Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, Varanasi or Lourdes, to name the most obvious. What are the experiences common to Muslims in the Deccan’s sacred spaces? In a survey of about 500 men and women I conducted in Hyderabad in December 2004, the five most common experiences are: 331

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Feelings of bliss, awe and wonder: The environment of dargāhs, especially in the early morning, is described as one so beautiful and conducive to concentration that visitors are moved to tears of ecstasy, of profound bliss, awe and wonder. A sense of unity with nature: The dargāh environment is saturated with the baraka of the buried saint, his loyal disciples and other holy men, so much so that many consider death not as a harsh termination of life, but rather the joining of others in the riyāḍ al-ṣāliḥīn (gardens of the pious). Sacred water channels are compared to the rivers of heaven, and pigeons – of which there is always a profusion in dargāhs – are deemed the birds of Paradise. In fact, pigeons are widely considered sayyids among animals. A place of healing: Many dargāhs are the sites of psychological healing, with therapeutic qualities. Possessed men and women find relief through prayers recited to ward off stubborn evil spirits and through the influence of spiritual forces. The form in which this healing takes place and the definition and role of the Sufi in the healing process varies.21 The saint’s body holds tremendous power – not just baraka but the power of love itself (‘ishq, maḥabbat) that transcends evil spirits. A place of reflection and inspiration: Sacred spaces are often the sites for reflection upon death and the hereafter, a place to supplicate to God on behalf of those buried in the dargāhs and cemeteries. Many non-Muslims find here inspiration to become Muslim, as do Muslims to undertake charitable projects, such as building a mosque, a health centre, digging a well and so forth. A place of repentance and of thanksgiving: Many believers seek repentance at sacred places such as the dargāhs; they distribute charity and vow to undertake bigger projects as acts of thanksgiving in fulfillment of a supplication. Parents bring over newborns to be blessed by the sajjāda nashīn or the spiritual head of the dargāh.


sacred spaces and objects

Resilience of a culture of shrines and sacred spaces Medieval Hanbali theologians such as Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 1328), Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d. 1350) and the Maliki scholar Muhammad ibn al-Hajj al-Abdari (d. 1336) feared – and therefore cautioned Muslims against – the possibility of mosques, tombs and other holy sites becoming centres of idol-worship and heretical innovations.22 Since the eighteenth century, puritanical ideas propagated by Shah Waliullah (1703–63)23 in India and Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in Arabia (1703–92), followed by the reformist movements led by Sayyid Ahmad Barelawi (1786–1831) in the nineteenth century, attacked the notion of the saints’ status as intermediaries between man and God. The ideas expressed by movements such as the Ahl-i Hadith and those of influential thinkers like Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi (1863–1943), Mawlana Muhammad Ilyas (1885–1944) and Mawlana Abul Ala Mawdudi (1903–79) strongly opposed the entire culture of saints and shrines.24 Their ideas, absorbed by the Urdu- and Englishreading middle classes throughout the Subcontinent, created a significant following. The reformists and their supporters sought to reassert the Qur’an as the only source of legitimate authority, which in their understanding the saints had usurped. The reformists opposed what they called bid‘a, ‘innovation,’ basing the idea on a Hadith claiming that ‘every bid‘a is an error.’ Supporters of Sufism countered by saying that not every bid‘a is necessarily an error, citing in support one of the beautiful ninety-nine names of God, al-Badī‘, or ‘the Innovator.’ While staunchly adhering to Sufism, some Muslims resent the privileged position of the saints’ families, deeming it opposed to the egalitarian ethos of Islam. Other believers are horrified by the endless litigation among the saints’ descendants over real estate and funds collected at the dargāhs. Despite these negative associations, the dargāhs continue to flourish, though a challenge of a different kind has come to the dargāhs as places of mixed pilgrimage from the Hindu right wing, which claims that dargāhs are Hindu in origin. Thus there is an attempt to transform dargāhs into Hindu places of worship, a phenomenon exemplified by the cases of Sai Baba in Shirdi near Ahmadnagar, who began his spiritual career as a Sufi. Hindu devotees of Sai Baba (d. 1918) gradually Hinduized his teachings and eventually excluded Muslims from the management of his shrine.25 Similarly, numerous dargāhs in pre- and post-pogrom Gujarat have been demolished or Hinduized, usually by destroying the mosques within the shrines, effacing Arabic inscriptions or installing idols.26 So far there have been two major but as yet unsuccessful attempts to Hinduize dargāhs beyond Gujarat, exemplified by the cases of Mumbai’s Haji Malang dargāh27 and Chickmagalur’s Baba Budangiri dargāh in Karnataka.28


The Visual World of Muslim India

Conclusion The majority of Deccani Muslims, both literate and illiterate, remain highly influenced by Islamic mysticism, though not always as practised in the dargāhs. Time and climate ruined many of the forts, palaces and tombs of the mighty and the influential kings and nobles, but dargāhs remain vibrant and live spaces of devotion, pulsating with prayers and qawwālīs. A 1940 publication lists ‘urs among other religious celebrations in Hyderabad, and – when compared with recent times – the number of dargāhs shows a net increase.29 The Muslim calendars of the Deccan published in Urdu record a series of ‘urs held at the dargāhs. These are in addition to the weekly programmes held on Thursday, the sacred day of the dargāhs, just as Friday is the holy day of canonical Islam. Held on a specific date in the Islamic (Hijri) calendar, each month is associated with a particular pīr. In fact, until the 1950s, there used to be some Hijri months not associated with an ‘urs, but this is no longer the case: an examination of Urdu calendars from Hyderabad and Mumbai since the 1990s reveals a full schedule of ‘urs and associated celebrations all over the Deccan. In Hyderabad’s Minar calendar of 2002, every month from January to December is filled with the dates of twenty ‘urs, sometimes with more than one ‘urs per day. Similarly, the Badi Jantari (‘Big Calendar’) of Mumbai, focusing on monthly events in western India, shows a large number of ‘urs scheduled for saints of various Sufi orders. The fear of medieval and modern theologians from Ibn Taymiyyah to Mawdudi that tombs and graves would lead to heretical practices such as shirk and idolatry has been disproved by the believers’ continued adherence to the essentials of sharī‘a. Normative Islam emphasizes dogma and doctrine. Instead of conceptualizing the divine as transcendent, the Sufis and their sympathizers see the divine as immanent. This very distinction leads Sufis and their followers to follow ritual practices that are neither in competition with nor in violation of Islam based on the Qur’an and Sunna of the Prophet. This broader vision of Islam is what accounts for the continued resilience of the culture of shrines and sacred spaces.

Notes 1 Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock have been the object of numerous scholarly articles and books. See especially Oleg Grabar, The Shape of the Holy: Early Islamic Jerusalem (Princeton, NJ, 1996), and Myriam Rosen-Ayalon, The Early Islamic Monuments of al-Haram al-Sharif: An Iconographic Study ( Jerusalem, 1989).


sacred spaces and objects 2 Muhammad Ilyas Abdul Ghani, History of Madinah Munawwarah (Madina, 2003), 92–101; The Architecture of the Prophet’s Holy Mosque, ed. Salma Samar Damluji (London, 1998), 38–39, 43, 44, 48–49. 3 Ibid., 149–54. 4 Robert B. Serjeant, ‘Haram and Hawtah,’ in Mélanges Taha Husain, offerts par ses amis et ses disciples à l’occasion de son 70ième anniversaire, ed. Abd al-Rahman Badawi (Cairo, 1962), 41–58; Alexander Knysh, ‘The Cult of Saints in Hadramawt,’ New Arabian Studies, vol. 1 (1993), 137–52. 5 Christopher S. Taylor, In the Vicinity of Righteous: Ziyarah and Veneration of Muslim Saints in Late Medieval Egypt (Leiden, 1999). 6 Thomas Leisten, ‘Between Orthodoxy and Exegesis: Some Aspects of Attitudes in the Shari’a Toward Funerary Architecture,’ Muqarnas 7 (1990), 12–22. 7 On the tomb of Sughra Humayun Mirza (d. 1959) in Humayunnagar, Hyderabad, is found the line written by her: ‘Who will care to visit my grave when I am gone!’ 8 Josef Waleed Meri, The Cult of Saints among Muslims and Jews in Medieval Syria (Oxford, 2002). 9 Iqtidar Husain Siddiqui, ‘The Early Chishti Dargahs,’ in Muslim Shrines in India: Their Character, History and Significance, ed. Christian W. Troll (second edition, New Delhi, 2003), 1–23. 10 This website lists almost all the major dargāhs in India: There is also a growing body of literature on the subject; only two books will be cited here: Troll’s Muslim Shrines in India (see previous note) and Dargahs: Abodes of Saints, ed. Mumtaz Currim and George Michell, with photos by Karoki Lewis (Mumbai, 2004). 11 Hasanuddin Ahmad, Strategies to Develop Waqf Administration in India ( Jeddah, 1998). See especially ibid., 94 for an idea of the dargāhs’ revenues around Hyderabad. 12 It is interesting that the followers of Tablighi Jama‘at, generally considered opposed to Sufism, use the term chilla to denote removal from normal places of residence in order to bring Muslim believers (men) back to the mosque. 13 Terry Graham, ‘Abdol-Qader Gilani and the Qaderiya Order,’ Sufi 3 (Autumn 1989), 22–28. The author notes the large number of pilgrims from the Subcontinent at this saint’s shrine in Baghdad. 14 Omar Khalidi, Muslims in the Deccan: A Historical Survey (New Delhi, 2006), 101–18. 15 Keith Hjortshoj, ‘Kerbala in Context: A Study of Muharram in Lucknow, India’ (Ph.D. Dissertation, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 1977). 16 Sadiq Naqvi, Qutb Shahi Ashur Khanas of Hyderabad City (Hyderabad, 1982), 26–33. 17 Ibid., 17–59. 18 Shakeel Hossain, ‘Ta‘zia: Ephemeral Architecture in India,’ Mimar 35 ( June 1990), 10–17. 19 Diane D’Souza, ‘In the Presence of the Martyrs: The Alam in Popular Shi‘i Poetry,’ The Muslim World 88/1 ( January 1998), 67–80. 20 David Pinault, The Shiites: Ritual and Popular Piety in a Muslim Community (New York, NY, 1992), 99–108.


The Visual World of Muslim India 21 Experiences at dargāhs outside the Deccan are identical to those in Hyderabad, Bidar, Bijapur, Aurangabad and other cities. See: Inderjeet Badhwar, ‘In Search of Miracles [in a Badaun dargah],’ India Today (15 February 1986), 50–57; Beatrix Flederer, The Red Thread: Healing Possession at a Muslim Shrine in North India, tr. Malcolm R. Green (Delhi, 2006); Katherine P. Ewing, ‘The Sufi as Saint, Curer and Exorcist in Modern Pakistan,’ Contributions to Asian Studies 18 (1984), 106–14. 22 Muhammad Umar Memon, Ibn Taimiya’s Struggle against Popular Religion (The Hague, 1976). 23 J.M.S. Baljon, ‘Shah Waliullah and the Dargah,’ in Troll, Muslim Shrines in India, 189–97; Barbara D. Metcalf, ‘Islam and Custom in Nineteenth Century India: The Reformist Standard of Maulana Thanawi’s Bihishti Zewar,’ Contributions to Asian Studies 17 (1982), 62–78. 24 Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, Worship and Festivals in Islam, tr. M. Durrani (Delhi, 1999). 25 Marianne Warren, Unraveling the Enigma: Shirdi Sai Baba in the Light of Sufism (New Delhi, 1999), 385–86; Antonio Rigopoulos, The Life and Teachings of Sai Baba of Shirdi (Albany, NY, 1993). Both authors agree that the Hindu-majority villagers ‘voted’ to declare the Baba as Hindu by rituals of burial. 26 ‘Templasing a Dargah of Ahmadabad,’ Radiance Views Weekly (7–13 June 1998), pp. 13–14; Concerned Citizens’ Tribunal, Gujarat, 2002, posted on The latter reports that over 270 mosques and dargāhs were destroyed during the state-sponsored pogrom of 2002. The precise number of dargāhs from within that figure is unfortunately unspecified. 27 Asad Bin Saif, ‘Attack on Syncretic Culture: Case of Haji Malang,’ Economic and Political Weekly (10 August 1996). 28 Muzaffar Assadi, ‘Threats to Syncretic Culture,’ Economic and Political Weekly (27 March 1999); Yoginder Sikand, The Baba Budhan Giri Dargah Controversy (Bangalore, n.d.). 29 A List of Uruses, Jatras, Melas, etc. in H.E.H. the Nizam’s Dominions (Hyderabad, 1940).


Dynasties and Rulers of the Deccan in the Early Modern Era

Vi jayanagara Sangamas



Harihara Raya I


Saluva Narasimha Raya


Bukka Raya I


Thimma Bhupala


Harihara Raya II


Narasimha Raya II


Virupaksha Raya I


Bukka Raya II


Deva Raya I


Ramachandra Raya


Vira Vijaya Bukka Raya


Deva Raya II


Mallikarjuna Raya


Virupaksha Raya II


Praudha Raya


The Visual World of Muslim India




Tuluva Narasa Nayaka


Tirumala Raya


Viranarasimha Raya


Sriranga Raya I


Krishna Raya


Venkata Raya II


Achyuta Raya


Sriranga Raya II


Sadashiva Raya


Ramadeva Raya


Venkata Raya III


Sriranga Raya III

Bahmanis and Successor States Bahmanis of Gulbarga and Bidar

Barid Shahs of Bidar




Qasim I


Muhammad I


Amir I






Da’ud I




Muhammad II


Qasim II




Amir II




Mirza Ali


Tajuddin Firuz


Amir III


Ahmad I Wali


Ahmad II




Ahmad III


Muhammad III




Ahmad IV








dynasties and rulers of the deccan

Nizam Shahs of Ahmadnagar

Adil Shahs of Bijapur



1490–1510 Yusuf


Burhan I

1510–1534 Isma‘il


Husayn I

1534–1535 Mallu


Murtaza I

1535–1558 Ibrahim I


Husayn II

1558–1580 Ali I



1580–1627 Ibrahim II


Burhan II

1627–1656 Muhammad II



1656–1672 Ali II



1672–1686 Sikandar


Murtaza II


Burhan III


Husayn III


Murtaza III

Qutb Shahs of Golconda and Hyderabad

Mughal governors of the Deccan




Jan Sipar Khan




Rustam Dil Khan




Mubariz Khan










Abu’l Hasan



Abdul Ghani, Muhammad Ilyas. History of Madinah Munawwarah. Madina, 2003.

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Bibliography Wagoner, Phillip B. ‘The Charminar as Chaubara: Cosmological Symbolism in the Urban Architecture of the Deccan.’ Architecture of the Sultanates in South Asia, edited by Abha Narian Lambah and Alka Patel, 104–13. Mumbai, 2006. Wagoner, Phillip B. ‘Firearms, Fortifications, and a “Military Revolution” in the 16th Century Deccan.’ Paper presented at the seminar Islamic India in Transition: The Sixteenth Century, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 17 March 2007. Wagoner, Phillip B. ‘Retrieving the Chalukyan Past: The Politics of Architecture Reuse in the SixteenthCentury Deccan.’ South Asian Studies 23 (2007): 17–23. Wagoner, Phillip B., and Richard Eaton. ‘Architecture and contested terrain in the medieval Deccan: the Chalukyan revival in the sixteenth century.’ Paper presented at Columbia University, New York, April 2006. Wagoner, Phillip B., and John Henry Rice. ‘From Delhi to the Deccan: newly discovered monuments at Warangal-Sult̤ānpūr and the beginnings of Indo-Islamic architecture in southern India.’ Artibus Asiae 61/1 (2001): 79–88. Warren, Marianne. Unraveling the Enigma: Shirdi Sai Baba in the Light of Sufism. New Delhi, 1999. Welch, Anthony. Shah ‘Abbas & the Arts of Isfahan. New York, 1973. Welch, Anthony, and Howard Crane. ‘The Tughluqs: master builders of the Delhi sultanate.’ Muqarnas 1 (1983): 123–66. Welch, Stuart Cary, ed. India! Art and Culture, 1300–1900. New York, 1985. Welch, Stuart Cary, Richard Ettinghausen, and Jagdish Mittal. ‘Portfolio.’ Marg 16/2 (1963): 7–22. Welch, Stuart Cary, Annemarie Schimmel, Marie L. Swietochowski, and Wheeler M. Thackston. The Emperors’ album: images of Mughal India. New York, 1988. Wendell, Charles. ‘Baghdad: Imago Mundi, and other foundation-lore.’ International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 2 (1971): 99–128. Willigen, A. van der. Les Artistes de Haarlem. Haarlem, 1860. Winius, George. ‘The life of Jaques de Couttre: a prime source emerges from the shades.’ Itinerario 9/1 (1985): 137–44. Winius, George. ‘Jewel trading in Portuguese India in the XVI and XVII centuries.’ Indica 25/1 (1988): 15–34. Winius, George D., and Carrie C. Chorba. ‘Literary invasions in La Vida de Jaques de Coutre: do they prejudice its value as an historical source?’ A Carreira da Índia e as rotas dos estreitos: actas do VIII seminário internacional de história Indo-Portuguesa (Angra do Heroísmo, 7 a 11 de Junho de 1996), edited by A.T. de Matos and L.F.F.R. Thomaz, 7–19. Angra do Heroísmo, Portugal, 1998. Wink, André. Indo-Islamic society 14th-15th centuries, vol. 3 of Al-Hind: The making of the Indo-Islamic World. Leiden, 1990. Wonder-Tales of South Asia, tr. Simon Digby. Jersey, CI, 2000. Wright, Elaine. Muraqqa‘: Imperial Mughal Albums from the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin. Alexandria, VA, 2008. Yazdani, Ghulam. ‘Inscriptions in Golconda fort.’ Epigraphia Indo-Moslemica (1913–14): 48–9. Yazdani, Ghulam. ‘Inscriptions in the Golconda Tombs.’ Epigraphia Indo-Moslemica (Calcutta, 1914–15): 19–40.


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Index of Personal Names

Abdul Qadir Gilani: 322 Abdullah Qutb Shah: 25, 26, 31, 32, 37, 38, 40, 43, 46–48, 148, 168, 180, 231, 280 Abdurrazzaq: 94, 115 Abu’l Fazl: 21, 288, 291 Abu’l Hasan (Mughal painter): 149, 159, 248, 263 Abu’l Hasan Qutb Shah: 31, 43, 48, 151 Addani Gangadhara: 17 Afzal Khan: 109, 148, 162, 244 Ahmad ibn Abdullah Nadkar (calligrapher): 297 Ahmad Jalayir (sultan): 186 Ahmad Khan: 86–88 Ahmad Nizam Shah: 53 Ahmad Shah Bahmani I: 9, 147 Akbar (Mughal emperor): 28, 56, 204, 215, 230, 232, 236, 240, 241, 242, 258, 264, 276, 278 Akbar (Mughal prince, aka Sultan Muhammad Akbar, son of Alamgir I): 149 Alamgir I (Mughal emperor): xxviii, 31, 124, 128, 134, 149, 158, 282–84, 287, 292 Alauddin Bahman Shah: 268, 285 Albuquerque: 71 Alexander the Great: see Iskandar Ali ibn Abi Talib (caliph of Islam): 145, 146, 157, 170, 173, 181, 319, 320, 322, 326, 328, 329 Ali Adil Shah I: 6, 152, 172 Ali Adil Shah II: 222, 270, 280, 292, 296, 299 Ali Barid: 125, 130, 139 Ali Khan (Nizam of Hyderabad): 324 Ali al-Riza (imam): 319 Amir Khusraw: 24, 62 Aqil Khan Alamgiri: 296

Arifi: 187 Asad Beg Qazwini: 211–13, 230, 234, 240, 242, 246, 258, 260, 261, 276, 278, 291, 348 Aziz Koka, Mirza: 243, 261, 351 Baba Palangposh: 158 Bakhtar Khan Kalawant: 243–46, 262 Ballala II (Hoysala): 13 Barani, Ziauddin: see Ziauddin Barani Barbosa, Duarte: 53, 71, 72, 75 Bernier, François: 24 Bhimsen: 151, 166, 172 Bichitr (Mughal painter): 159–60 Bilqis, Queen of Sheba: 156, 189–91, 194, 202, 203 Boris Godunov: 209 Burhan Nizam Shah I: 55, 63, 73 Burhan Nizam Shah II: 56, 59, 63 Camello, Fernão: 55 Coutre, Jacques de: 211, 213, 230, 233–39, 241–42, 245, 256–59 Daniyal (Mughal prince): 242 Della Valle, Pietro: 57, 72, 75, 215 Deva Raya I: 82, 103, 111 Deva Raya II: 86 Ekamranatha: 22 Fakhruddin Bahram Shah: 250 Farrukh Husayn (aka Farrukh Beg, painter): 212, 214, 246–51, 257, 263


The Visual World of Muslim India

Mahmud Gawan: 57 Mahmud of Ghazna: 21 Malik Aiyaz: 56 Malik Ambar: 56, 135, 149, 243–44, 245–46 Malik Sandal: 134 al-Mansur (Abbasid caliph): 14 Mir Jamaluddin: 242 Mir Musa: 236 Mir Osman Ali Khan (Nizam of Hyderabad): 324 Mirza Muhammad Amin (Qutb Shah): 32, 40 Mulla Da’ud: 296 Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab: 333 Muhammad Adil Shah: 7, 134, 164, 221–22, 256, 270, 280 Muhammad Ali (painter): 249–50 Muhammad I Bahmani: 100, 117 Muhammad Firdawsi: 295 Muhammad Husayn Tabataba’i: 19, 21 Muhammad Nizami Ganjavi: 185, 188, 192–93, 202, 250–51, 295 Muhammad Qutb Shah: 3, 16, 20, 32, 36, 37, 246 Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah: xviii, xxvii, 31, 32, 36, 37, 40, 42–43, 46, 156–57, 179–81, 182–88, 190–92, 194–98, 199, 201, 203, 324 Muhammad Shah (Mughal emperor): 282, 286 Muhammad bin Tughluq: xxii, 10, 14, 115 Muhammad Zuhur bin Zuhuri: 212, 214, 230, 241 Muinuddin Chishti: 268, 285, 320 Mulla Muhammad Lari: 246 Mulla Nusrati: 295–96, 298, 300, 316 Murtaza Nizam Shah I: 56

Fath Khan (son of Ibrahim Adil Shah II): 234 Fatima (daughter of the Prophet of Islam): 328, 329 Fatima Khanum: 32 Fazlullah Inju: 115 Firdawsi: see Muhammad Firdawsi Firishta: 15, 19, 21, 26, 29, 111 Firuz Shah Bahmani: 9, 100, 102–3, 104, 105, 107, 108, 109, 111, 115, 116, 117–18, 122 Frederici, Cesar: 57, 72 Gesu Daraz: 103, 107, 118, 212, 299 Ghawwasi: 148 González de Clavijo, Ruy: 147 Hafiz: 186, 202 Hakim Khushhal: 245 Hashim (Mughal painter): 158, 246, 255–57, 262 Hayat Bakshi Begum: 32, 37 Heda, Cornelius Claesz.: xxviii, 205–18, 220, 222, 225–32, 234, 237 Husayn, son of Ali ibn Abi Talib: 319, 320, 328–29 Husayn Nizam Shah: 6, 56 Husayn Shah Wali: 45, 47, 48 Ibn Battuta: 115 Ibrahim Adil Shah II: xxvii–xxviii, 7, 18, 29, 134, 205–7, 210–12, 214–18, 221–27, 230, 231, 233–39, 241–52, 254–57, 258–63 Ibrahim Barid: 130 Ibrahim Qutb Shah: 3, 16, 17, 20, 29, 31–2, 36, 39–42, 44–45, 184 Iskandar (Alexander the Great): 154, 195 Jahangir (Mughal emperor): xxvii, 149–50, 158–59, 215, 231, 236, 239–48, 250–52, 254, 256–57, 262, 264, 278–79, 283, 285, 291–92 Jamshid (mythical king of Iran): 116, 153 Jamshid Qutb Shah: 17, 32, 37, 39, 40 Jujhar Singh Bundela: 159–60 Kalidasa: 145 Kettle, Tilly: 286 Khadija Sultana: 162 Khalifaturrahman: 105, 118 Khan Alam: 246, 278–80, 291 Khata’i (Shah Isma‘il Safavi): 186 Khawas Khan: 148 Khurram (Mughal prince): 244; see also Shahjahan Krishnappa (Nayak): 168 Kulthum Begum: 32

Nadir Shah: 286 Nikitin, Afanasy: 53, 57, 72, 75 Nizami Ganjavi: see Muhammad Nizami Ganjavi Nusrati, Mulla: see Mulla Nusrati Paramananda: 148, 151 Pashang: 125 Pemmati: 32 Philip II (King of Spain): 209 Prataparudra: 22–23 Ptolemy: 56 Qasim Ali (Qutb Shahi illuminator): 181 Rafi‘ of Qazvin: 100, 117 Rama Raya: 23, 28 Riza Abbasi: 248, 263, 278 Roe, Thomas: xxviii, 215, 227, 231, 292


index of personal names

Roger II, Norman king of Sicily: 143, 144, 152, 153 Rudolph II Habsburg: xxviii, 208–9, 227 Ruknuddawla Da’ud bin Sökmen: 154

Sultan-Quli Qutb Shah: 16, 25, 28, 31, 32, 37, 39–45, 183, 321 Suryaji Rao: 148

Sai Baba: 333 Sajida Mahtaram: 298 Salar Jung I: 33, 37 Sayyid Ahmad Barelawi: 333 Sayyid Kabir: 244, 245 Sayyid Manjhan Rajgiri: 296 Shah Alam (Mughal prince, son of Alamgir): 151 Shahjahan (Mughal emperor): 115, 158–60, 245, 270, 283, 285, 293 Shah Waliullah: 333 Shahrukh: 94, 115 Shaykh Qutban: 296 Shaykh Siraj al-Din Junaydi: 22, 23, 103 Shitab Khan: 15, 24 Shivaji Bhonsale: 54, 148, 151–52, 160–62, 164, 172, 174, 292, 296

Tabataba’i: see Muhammad Husayn Tabataba’i Tahmasp (Safavid Shah): 192, 195 Taramati: 32 Thévenot, Jean de: 44 Timur (Tamerlane): 95, 146–47 Tipu Sultan: 146, 161, 168, 297 Twist, Johan van: 155, 156, 229, 232

Soares de Albergaria, Lopo: 55 Solomon: 116, 121, 156, 187, 189–91, 194, 203 Subhan Qutb Shah: 32, 37, 39, 40

Ulugh Beg: 115 Ustad Muhammad bin Hasan Rumi: 128, 131, 140 Vallabharaya: 25 Varthema, Ludovico: 53, 57, 72 Vinayaditya (Hoysala): 13 Vishnuvardhana (Hoysala): 13 Zamorin of Calicut: 55 Zaynuddin Ali (Qutb Shahi calligrapher): 181 Ziauddin Barani: 25, 30 Zuhuri: see Muhammad Zuhur bin Zuhuri


Index of Places

Agra: 14, 234, 236, 241 Ahmadnagar: xxii, xxiii, 6, 15, 18–19, 21, 56, 60, 128–29, 131, 140, 149, 155, 242, 243, 244, 333 Ajanta: 145 Ajmer: 112, 243–44, 245, 268, 285, 288, 320 Andhra Pradesh: xxi, 31, 32, 35, 36, 269 Ani (Armenia): 155 Aurangabad: 158, 294, 336 Ausa: 127, 140 Baghdad: 14–15, 335 Qubbat al-Khadra’: 14, 120 Bhongir: 12, 45 Bidar: xxii, xxiii, xxviii, 9–10, 27, 35, 39, 44–45, 53, 80, 89, 93, 94, 116, 125–27, 130, 131–32, 136–40, 142, 147, 171, 182, 267, 268, 270, 276, 283–85, 288, 289, 293, 316, 317, 336 Fath Darwaza: 126, 142 Fath Lashkar, gun: 125, 130, 132, 136, 141 Fort: 9, 125, 127, 130, 131, 132, 136, 137, 138, 139, 270, 283, 284, 293 Kala Burj: 125, 130, 132 Lal Burj: 125–26, 130, 137 Mahmud Shahi, gun: 126, 130, 133, 141 Mandu Darwaza: 125, 130, 131, 132 Munda Burj: 125–26, 130 Purana Qila: 125, 130, 132 Rangin Mahal: 138–40 Takht Mahal: 136 Top-i Haidari, gun: 125–26, 132, 136–38

Top-i Ilahi, gun: 130, 131, 142 Top-i Mahmud Shahi, gun: 130, 132–33 Bijapur: xviii, xxii, xxiii, xxvii, xxix, 6–7, 8, 18–19, 55, 56, 104–5, 107, 109, 118, 124, 127–29, 133–34, 138, 140, 142, 143, 148, 151, 152, 155, 156, 162, 163, 168, 171, 173, 205–6, 210–27, 228, 229, 230, 231, 232, 233–36, 238–46, 247, 248, 251, 256–57, 258, 263, 268, 270, 276, 282, 283, 284, 285, 291, 296, 301, 311, 316, 335 Athar Mahal: 138, 221–22, 232, 301 Chini Mahal: 107 Citadel: 6–7 Gagan Mahal: 107 Haft Mahal: 107 Haidar Burj: 127 Jami Masjid: 8, 107, 182 Landa Qassab bastion: 133 Taj Baoli: 107 Bruges: 233 Bukhara: 196 Burhanpur: 244 Cairo: 15, 114 Mamluk palaces: 114 Calicut: 55 Chaul: xvii, xxv–xxvi, 53–72, 73, 74, 141 Rajkot: 58, 68, 69, 71 Sarai: 59 Cordoba: 100, 153 Ctesiphon: 14, 116, 122 Taq-i Kisra (Arch of Cosroes): 116, 122


index of places

Gujarat: xxxii, 53, 56, 72, 73, 320, 333 Gulbarga: xvii, xxii, xxvi, 22, 27, 39, 53, 80, 86, 87, 88, 96–117, 118, 127, 133, 182 Bala Hisar: 96, 100, 103, 106 dargāh of Gesu Daraz: 106–7 Fort: xvii, xxvi, 27, 96–104, 108, 110, 112–13, 127 Great Mosque ( Jami Masjid): xvii, xxvi, 96–117, 118 Hathi Gate: 96, 100 Ladies’ Mosque: 100 Langar-ki Masjid: 106 Shah Bazaar Jami: 100, 101, 106, 107, 112 tomb of Firuz Shah: 104

Dabhol: 53 Darabgird: 14 Daulatabad: xxii, 10, 53, 58, 64, 68, 112, 125, 126, 127, 168 Ambarkot: 64, 74 Delhi: xxi–xxii, 10, 14, 22–23, 82, 112, 115, 120, 158, 227, 286, 320 Begampuri Masjid: 112 Bijai Mandir: 115 Quwwatu’l-Islam: 112 Red Fort: 158 Tughluqabad: 10, 11, 113, 114, 120 Devarkonda: 25 Diu: 55–56 Diyarbakr: 155 Ulu Cami: 155 Elichpur: 113–14 ‘īdgāh: 113–14 Eligandal: 45 Euphrates: 14, 329 Fathpur Sikri: 14, 320 Firuzabad (Deccan): 9–10, 101, 102, 104, 105, 106, 107, 110 dargāh of Khalifaturrahman: 105 Jami Masjid: 9, 101, 105 Firuzabad (Gur): 14 Goa: xxi, 53, 71, 73, 94, 105–6, 156, 209–10, 211, 216, 226, 227, 229, 231, 233, 234, 236, 276 Basilica of Bom Jesus: 106 Church of Nossa Senhora do Amparo: 106 Golconda: xvii, xviii, xxiii, xxv, xxvii, 2, 3–4, 6, 12, 15, 17, 18–20, 26, 28, 29, 31–51, 123, 124, 126, 128, 133, 134, 143, 147, 148, 151, 156–57, 164–66, 168, 172, 179, 182–84, 189–90, 194, 195, 198, 199–200, 216, 280, 282, 300, 305, 324 Bagh-i Faiz Azar: 36, 37, 44 Bala Hisar: 3 Banjara Gate: 4, 34, 36, 37, 164, 166, 167 Fort: 3, 29, 31, 34, 35, 36, 37, 40, 43, 44, 46, 47, 49, 147, 157, 164, 166, 168, 324 Jamali Gate: 4, 164 Jami Masjid: 4, 44, 326 Katora Hauz: 44 Naw Burj: 147, 168 Naya Qila: 4, 36, 40, 134, 168 Patancheru Gate: 4, 36, 44, 157, 164, 165, 166, 168

Haarlem: 206, 208, 215, 228 Hadramawt: 320 Halebid: 13 Hamadan: 182–83 Hanumakonda: 12, 20 Herat: 10, 115 Hyderabad: xx, xxiv, xxv, 3, 6, 19–20, 29, 31–34, 35, 36, 40, 43, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 103, 109, 146, 179–80, 182, 187–88, 190, 192, 194, 196, 197, 216, 269–70, 286, 295, 300, 315, 321, 322, 323, 324, 326, 328–29, 331, 334, 335, 336 Azakhana-i Zahra: 324, 325, 326 Badshahi Ashurkhana: 182, 326, 327 Char Bazaar: 6 Char Kaman: 182 Char Minar: 6, 19–20, 29, 40, 42, 182, 329 Darulshifa: 182 Gulshan Colony: 36, 45, 46 Jami Masjid: 182, 326 Khudadad Mahal: 182 Koh-i Moula Ali (Moula Ali Hill): 45, 326 Maidan-i Darbar: 6 Mecca Masjid: 20, 326 Mulla Khiyali’s mosque: 40 Naya Qila: 4, 36, 40, 134, 168, 175 Shahpur Gate: 109 Sheikhpet serai: 36, 46, 47 Ibrahimpatan: 25 Isfahan: 209, 215, 227, 278 Janwada: 44 Junnar: 53, 58


The Visual World of Muslim India

Kaliyar: 320 Kalyana: 166, 167 Kandhar: 135 Kanheri: 71 Karbala: 319, 320, 327–29 Karnataka: xxi, xxviii, 13, 141, 168, 267, 333 Kaulas: 12, 45 Korlai: 56, 70 Koyilkonda: 12, 17 Kufa: 319, 320 Kumatgi: 105, 232 Kundalika River: 53, 69, 70 Kukatpalli: 45, 46 Lahore: 294 Lucknow: 270, 286, 324, 328 Maharashtra: xxi, 294 Mandu: 106, 114, 119, 244, 246 Hindola Mahal: 106, 119 Manzarsumbah: 60 Mashhad: 319 Masulipatnam: 182, 216 Mecca: 14, 105, 112, 113, 319–20, 331 Medak: 45, 46 Medina: 319, 320, 331 Mewar: 282, 283, 284, 292 Murshidabad: 270 Musi River: 5, 31, 329 Mysore: 161, 315 Nagaur: 320 Nalanda: 145 Nauraspur: 7, 211, 212–13, 222, 232, 234, 246, 257 Orissa: 146 Paithan: 58 Pandua (Bengal): 112 Adina Mosque: 112 Penukonda: 15 Persepolis: 115, 116, 121, 144 Apadana: 115 Prague: 206, 207, 208–9, 210, 215, 227, 228, 248 Puppalguda: 36, 44 Purnea: 270

Raichur: 235, 237–38 Raigarh: 143, 160, 161–62, 174 Revadanda: 54, 55–56, 57, 70 Samarkand: 115, 146, 147 Registan Square: 146 Sherdar Madrasa: 146 Samarra: 114 Shahjahanabad: 14, 294; see also Delhi Shahpur: 141, 211, 213 Shrirangam: 151 Ranganatha Temple: 151 Sultannagar: 3–4, 5, 6, 15, 18, 19, 26 Surat: 54, 56, 216 Takht-i Sulayman (Shiz): 14, 114 Talikota: 125, 131, 134 Telangana: 12, 15, 16, 18, 183 Tigris: 14, 153 Udgir: 128, 140, 271 Varanasi: 331 Vijayanagara (Hampi): xvii, xxii, xxiii, xxiv, xxvi, 3, 17, 22–23, 28, 29, 79–93, 94, 103, 107, 109–12, 115, 116, 121, 131, 140, 151, 165–66, 168, 182, 183, 237 Balakrishna Temple: 89 Elephant Stables: 88, 90, 109–12 Great Platform (Mahanavami Dibba): 80, 81, 82, 83–84, 93, 121, 165, 166 Lotus Mahal: 90, 91, 92 Malpannagudi: 89 Queens’ Bath: 91 Ramachandra Temple: 80, 82–83 Royal Centre: 79–80, 82, 86, 88–91, 92 Sacred Centre: 80, 89 Vitthala Temple: 80, 84, 85, 94 Warangal: 12–13, 14, 15, 17–18, 20, 22, 24–25, 27, 45, 106, 112, 113, 114 Fort: 25, 27 Khush Mahal: 106 Zawar: 268, 269, 276, 282, 283–84, 285, 287, 288, 289, 294

Qal‘a-i Dukhtar: 14


Index of Miscellaneous Words Adil Shahs: xviii, xxii, xxvii, xxviii, xxxii, 6, 7, 18, 20, 55, 103, 105, 106, 107, 118, 134, 140, 141, 152, 155, 164, 205–7, 210–12, 214, 216–18, 220, 221–23, 226–27, 233–34, 236, 238, 246–48, 251, 255–56, 258, 261, 270, 278, 280, 291, 292, 296, 299 Arabs: xxiii, xxvi, 56–57, 80, 82, 83, 153, 333 Aravidu kings: 15 Armughān-i Sulṭānī: 22 Artuqids: 154, 155 Asaf Jahs (Nizams of Hyderabad): 103, 324, 327 Bahmanis: xxii, xxvi, xxxii, 9–10, 15, 20, 21, 22, 27, 31, 39, 44, 53, 68, 79–80, 82, 86, 87–91, 93, 94, 97–117, 136, 147, 168, 182–83, 268, 285, 323 Barid Shahs: xxii, 27, 125, 130, 132, 133, 136, 138, 139, 140, 141, 284 Basant: 184 Burhān-i Ma’āthir: 21, 26, 60 Chalukya dynasty: 13, 20, 23 Chandāyan: 296, 297 Chola dynasty: 151 Dārābnāma: 188, 202 Durga: 145 Dutch East India Company (VOC): 149, 205, 206, 213, 216–18, 226, 227, 228 Gulshan-i ‘Ishq: 295–315, 316 Gūy u Chawgān: 187

Ḥadīqatu’s-Salāṭīn: 4, 6, 21, 25 Hindavi: 147 Hindustani: 147, 184 Hoysala dynasty: xx, 13, 18, 20, 23, 151 ‘Īd-i Nauras: 213 Indra: 17 Jambudvipa: 13 Kakatiya dynasty: xxii, 12, 13, 14, 15–18, 20, 21, 22–23, 24, 25 Karts: 10 Kayastha: 151 Khaljis: 24–25, 79, 82, 112 Khamsa: 188, 192, 193, 195, 202, 250, 295 Kitāb-i Nauras: 212, 248 Krīḍâbhirāmamu: 25 Kushans: 145, 152 Madhumālāti: 296 Mahābhārata: 17, 21 Mahanavami festival: 80, 83, 93 Mahisha: 145 Majālis al-‘Ushshāq: 187 Makhzan al-asrār: 250, 263–64 Manṭiq al-Ṭayr: 157 Marathas: 148, 162 Marathi: xxi, xxii, 18, 59 Mihr wa Māh: 296 Mithra: 144–45 Mṛgāvatī: 296


The Visual World of Muslim India

Mughals: xvii, xviii, xxi, xxii, xxiii–xxiv, xxvii–xxviii, xxxi–xxxii, 28, 31, 46, 56, 103, 113, 115, 118, 123, 124, 128, 134, 141, 149, 151, 155, 156, 157–58, 160, 164, 166, 169, 191, 195, 198, 202, 203–4, 211–12, 213, 214, 215, 216, 220, 221, 226, 227, 230–31, 232, 234, 236, 239–40, 242–46, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 258, 261, 263, 264, 268, 270, 276–87, 297, 301, 305, 324 Muharram: 146, 324, 327, 328–29 Musunuri (Nayaks): 15, 16 Nal-Daman: 296 Nawrūz: 184 Nizam Shahs: xxii, xxiii, xxv, xxxii, 6, 18, 20, 26, 53, 54, 55–72, 73, 74, 140, 236, 245 Pādshāhnāma: 174, 244, 246 Panta Reddi: 15, 16 Parthians: 13–14 Pem Nem: 258, 296 Portuguese: xxiii, 54–57, 62, 70, 71, 72, 73, 94, 105–6, 123, 125, 127, 129, 141, 156, 209–10, 216, 217, 219, 231, 232, 276 Pratāparudra Caritramu: 22 Qutb Shahs: xvii, xviii, xxiii, xxv, xxvii, xxxii, 3–4, 9, 12, 15–21, 24–25, 26, 31–33, 35, 37, 38, 43, 44–45, 128, 148, 155, 156, 157, 179–99, 201–2, 246, 264, 280, 321, 324, 326 Rajputs: 160, 276, 281, 282–84, 286, 304 Rāmāyana: 82 Rāyavācakamu: 22

Sakas: 145 Sarmatians: 152 Sasanians: 14, 15 Scythians: 152 Seljuqs: 154 Shab-i Barāt: 184 Shāhnāma: 15, 115, 116, 121, 150, 187, 195, 295 Shiva: 22, 151 Siyah Qalam: 168 Sūryavaṃsha Anupurāṇa: 148, 151, 161, 174 Tāj-i Ḥaydarī: 189, 192 Tārīkh-i Muḥāmmad Quṭb Shāh: 19, 21 Telugu: xxi, xxii, 16, 17, 23, 24, 25, 183–84 Timurids: xxii, 10, 94, 115, 186, 195, 199 Tughluqs: xxii, xxvi, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 19, 22, 24–25, 79–80, 82, 100, 106, 112, 113, 114, 115 Turkmens: xxii. xxiii, 155 Turks: xxii, xxiii, xxvi, 56, 80, 81, 82, 83, 154, 155, 156, 168, 187, 236 Ṭūṭīnāma: 148, 164 Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC): see Dutch East India Company Vishnu: 151 Wodeyar (Nayaks): 161 Yadavas: xxii, 18, 23 Yūsuf wa Zulaykhā: 187, 195 Zoroastrians, Zoroastrianism: 144