Bijapur and Ahmadnagar paintings : regal splendour

Bijapur and Ahmadnagar were two important sultanates of the Deccan in medieval India. Both were powerful and contributed to the regions they ruled; built monuments whose remains are still seen. They were patrons of a unique painting forms which give us not only a historical record of those times but also contribute to the genre of Indian miniature painting. Bijapur paintings have survived in bigger number than those from Ahmadnagar.

The Bijapuri school flourished under Ibrahim Adil Shah II and his successors to some extent. Sultan Adil Shah I too was a patron of the arts and Shirazi, a immigrant from Persia who composed Tazkira-al mulk, worked in his kingdom during his reign. He patronised calligraphers and had a well stocked library.

image001.jpg

Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II, Bijapur, late 16th century.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/Sultan-Ibrahim-Adil-Shah-II-of-Bijapur._Miniature._Deccan%2C_Bijapur%3B_c._1590._The_David_Collection..jpgBy Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Bijapuri school was influenced by the Mughal and European style to some extent. Males are seen wearing turbans and royal costumes. The women had South Indian features with elongated eyes,wearing gold jewellery and saris. The main works produced during Sultan Adil Shah I rule were on musical themes like the Javahir al Musiqat-i-Muhammadi.

Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II was a mystic,a calligrapher and a composer himself; he transformed Bijapuri painting. Highly sensitive, he was influenced by both Islam and Hinduism.The work produced during his reign is very strong on emotion; the word nauras meant everything to him which translates as ‘nine flavours of life’. His writings are collected in Kitab-i-nauras. Maulana Farookh Hussain was an important painter in his court who influenced all the artists of the time.  Bijapuri painting had paintings either with the garden of paradise  setting or a idealised form of a human figure. The clothes were reflective of the era. Muslin robes, Kashmiri shawls , golden slippers, conical headgear are all seen on royalty and noblemen.

The painting of Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah on his elephant, Atash Khan and his mate Chanchal are seen moving through  a meadow. Delicate flowers and trees abound; this painting has strong European influence.

image003.jpg

Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah on his elephant Atash Khan, Bijapur,1600-10.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/20/Sultan_Ibrahim_Adil_Shah_II_Riding_His_Prized_Elephant%2C_Atash_Khan.jpgBy Attributed to Farrukh Beg [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

image005.jpg

Aayat-ul-kursi, Bijapur,16th century.

By Playing Futures: Applied Nomadology [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The throne verse in the form of a calligraphic horse, Bijapur, 16th century.(Aayat-ul-kursi). The painting style of Bijapur changed when Ahmadnagar was divided between Bijapur and the Mughals. Many Rajputs were serving as Governors in the Mughal administration om Bundi, Kotah and Bikaner. These princes brought their families and probably painters as well. Portraiture became popular and the works began to be dated and signed. Mughal artists too had come to Bijapur and influences are seen in the paintings. Slowly lot of North Indian influence came into the later works. Mohammad Khan and Abdul Karim were important artists during Sultan Mohammad Adil Shah’s reign.

image007.jpg

Sultan Mohammad Adil Shah with Ikhlas Khan, his prime minister, Bijapur, 17th century.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/Muhammad_Adil_Shah_of_Bijapur_and_his_African_Prime_Minister_Ikhlas_Khan_LACMA_M.76.2.35_%281_of_3%29.jpgSee page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

image009.png

Sultan Mohammad Adil Shah selecting a jewel, Bijapur,1650.

By English: thesandiegomuseumofartcollection (Flickr) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

During Sultan Ali Adil Shah reign florals and abstracts too were produced in addition to portraiture.

image011

Sultan Ali Adil Shah of Bijapur, Bijapur,1800.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f8/Ali_Adil_Shah_of_Bijapur.jpg See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Chandbibi was daughter of Hussain Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar and was married to Sultan Ali Adil Shah of Bijapur. She was  regent of Bijapur ( 1580-90) and regent of Ahmadnagar (1596-99). She fought hard against the Mughal forces to save Ahmednagar from their hegemony.

image013.png

Chandbibi, regent of Bijapur and Ahmadnagar, painting,Bijapur,18th century.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/ChandBibiHawking.png

By India, 18th century Deccan School (Sotheby’s, London, 06 April 2011, lot 248) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Mughal and Deccani styles had amalgamated and continued during the reigns of Sultan Ali Adil Shah II and Sultan Sikandar Adil Shah; but the local styles re-emerged in the form of richer colours, prominent facial features and  graceful gestures.

During Sultan Ali Adil Shah’s reign florals and abstracts too were produced in addition to portraiture.

image015

Sultan Ali Adil Shah II, Bijapur painting, 1670.

By Unknown – http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/96048.html?mulR=5018, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9500020

image017.jpg

Chandbibi playing polo, Bijapur, 18th century.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/99/Chand_Bibi_playing_Polo_-_Google_Art_Project.jpgSee page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Painting in the Nizam Shahi court at Ahmadnagar(1490-1636) took place under the three Sultans; Hussain Nizam Shahi I, his sons Murtaza I and Burhan II. The art mainly lasted for a short time and only some specimens have survived for posterity. The Tarif-i-Hussain Shahi lauds Hussain and his queen Khanzada Humayun and the conquest of Vijayanagara kingdom. The illustrations include that of the court, the queen and a shalabhanjika/dohada theme of a tree bursting into flowers at the touch of a lovely maiden (most probably the queen herself)

image019

From the Tarif-i-Hussain Shahi, battle of Talikota, Ahmadnagar,1565.

By Aftabi – Template:Ta’rif-i Husain Shahi [1][2], CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41665109

Ragamala paintings were produced in Northern Deccan which are mostly assigned to Ahmadnagar. They  bear some  similarity to Tarif -i-hussain shahi vide its colour composition and and simple figures.

image021

Gauri ragini , Ragamala painting , probably Ahmadnagar,16th century.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ef/Gauri_Ragini%2C_First_Wife_of_Malkos_Raga%2C_Folio_from_a_Ragamala_%28Garland_of_Melodies%29_LACMA_M.90.141.2.jpg

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

image023.png

Sultan Hussain Nizam Shah I, from the Tarif-i-Hussain Shahi, Ahmadnagar, 1565.

By Indischer Maler um 1565 – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=153074

image025

Sultan Burhan Nizam Shah II, Ahmadnagar,1591-95.

By Unknown – PORTRAIT OF BURHAN NIZAM SHAH II. (1591-95) of Ahmadnagar. Biblioteque Nationale, Paris, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24571824

Malik Ambar(1548-1626) was an important figure in Deccan politics. He was an Ethiopian  and sold as a slave and came to India. He organised his own army and became a prime minister at the Ahmadnagar Sultanate. He had an important military role against the Mughals. His portrait captures his complexion, his strong stature showing him with his head-dress, long robe and his sword.

image027

Malik Amber, Ahmadnagar, 1624-5.

By Hashim (made) (bridgeman berlin) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

References :

  • George, Michell and Zebroswki, Mark/The art and architecture of the Deccan Sultanates, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  • wikipedia.org

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

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About historyreads

Book lover, art history buff !
This entry was posted in Adilshahi, Ahmadnagar, art history, Bijapur, Deccan history, Deccani painting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Bijapur and Ahmadnagar paintings : regal splendour

  1. Vinod says:

    Interesting depiction of a bygone era in paintings….good to revisit..Nice and brief coverage.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. historyreads says:

    Very important Deccani school of paintings !

    Like

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