Deccan Chronicles

A recent visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art in New York gave us a great insight into the Deccan dynasty – its art, culture and royalty

6/2/2015 12:18:30 PM
written By : Basabi Banerjee Print

An unexpected trip to New York in May gave me the rare opportunity to see a special exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art, titled: Sultans of Deccan India- Opulence and Fantasy. The exhibition presents one of the most charismatic and dynamic societies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries through a remarkable array of paintings, textiles, jewellery and courtly art brought together from private and royal collections.
The artistic style of the era which blended Indian traditions with those of Iran, Turkey and Eastern Africa, produced a unique Indo-Islamic culture giving the lie to the notion that globalisation is a recent phenomenon.
The Bahmanid dynasty founded in the mid-fourteenth century, grew to control most of the Deccan plateau but was eventually divided into five independent Sultanates: Ahmadnagar, Golconda, Bijapur, Bidar and Berar. While the cosmopolitan courts of these Deccan kingdoms respected tradition, their enlightened rulers were receptive to outside influences. Droves of Persian immigrants, Sufi Mystics, Shi-ite Muslims and European traders made their way to the region during this period, paving the way for rich cultural and artistic exchanges with the Middle East, Africa and the West. The Hindu kingdom of Vijaynagar to the South and the Imperial Moghuls in the North, added to the diversity and enchantment of Deccan art. The Mughals finally conquered the Sultanates in the late 1680s, but not before they had established an era, which would arouse admiration and awe for centuries to come.

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