Tag Archives: Golconda

Poetry in architecture: a walk through the Qutub Shahi necropolis at Hyderabad

 

           Tucked away in Ibrahimbagh in the historic city of Hyderabad in India, which was founded in 1591 by the fifth Sultan of the Qutub Shahi rulers of the Deccan Sultanate of Golconda; who ruled when Sultan Quli declared independence from the powerful Bahmani kingdom in early 16th century, is their necropolis in a beautiful garden setting. The Sultans ruled both from Golconda and Hyderabad at different points of time.The Qutub Shahis are remembered for bringing in new traditions along with immigrants from Persia, the founder Sultan Quli being from there who migrated to the Indian subcontinent. The Qutub Shahis  mingled their culture with local sensibilities to usher in a ‘composite’ culture which paved the way for new ways of dress and etiquette, language, intoduction of beautiful calligraphy, art and architecture. A new idiom thewhich, Golconda school of miniature painting evolved during their reign who were great patrons of music and literature. The Sultans themselves composed poetry which is still cherished. They patronised the languages Persian and Telugu along with Dakhni, proto-Urdu. Many works of literture were produced.  The dynasty ruled upto 1686 which ended with the siege by Aurangzeb in 1687. After an interim Mughal rule the Asaf Jahis ruled and developed the area which became part of the Indian Republic in 1956. The city of Hyderabad, now in Telangana State of India, has seen phases of growth  under various rulers to become a major metropolis in south of India with expansion of the newer city of Hyderabad, the Secunderabad Cantonment, the last addition being Cyberabad. This write-up focusses on the amazing tomb complex at Ibrahimbagh in Hyderabad which is some distance from the Golconda Fort. Qutub Shahi architectural splendour is very prominent here with most features of Islamic architecture with components like arches, domes and minarets. The local influence can be seen in the liberal use of lotus-petal bases around the domes and minarets.20180929_122813-1

View of Golconda Fort on the way to the tombs |D. Vinod

             The tombs of the Sultans along with other important people from the family and associates are at a royal necropolis or tomb complex at Ibrahimbagh near the Golconda Fort.  The place was also called Bagh Safa. The tombs were built over time by various kings. Surrounding the tombs are gardens; beautiful gardens with shrubs and trees, a bagh setting amidst fountains and the timeless interplay of light and shade. Nature seems to be at its best with flowers, birds, bees, butterlfies and squirrels, abundant foliage, under the bluest skies.

Skyview, image | Dinesh Singh

 Mentionable here are the eight sultans of  the Qutub Shahi dynasty; Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk (1512–1543), Jamsheed Quli Qutb Shah (1543–1550), Subhan Quli Qutb Shah (1550),Ibrahim Quli    Qutb Shah (1550–1580),Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah (1580–1612), Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah (1612–1626),Abdullah Qutb Shah (1626–1672) and Abul Hasan Qutb Shah (1672–1686). The last Sultan is not buried here as he was sent to Daulatabad after the Mughal siege by Aurangzeb and his forces in 1687.

Cistern at the bagh, image|Dinesh Singh

        The architecture seen here is a beautiful blend of Persian, Indian and Pashtun influences. The tombs are mostly on a raised platform having domes and surrounded by arches. The tombs were much venerated during the Qutub Shahi times. The tombs of the Sultans had golden spires over them. People would read from the Holy Quran which used to be kept on pedestals.  During the Qutub Shahi rule, there used to be Persian carpets on the floors inside the tombs with the perfume of incense wafting around.  After the reign changed, the tombs were not much in focus. In the beginning of 19th century, Sir Salar Jung ordered for their restoration. He was an important prime-minister of Hyderabad-Deccan during the Asaf Jahi rule (1724-1948). The Aga Khan Foundation is restoring the tombs at present in the 21st century. There are displays which show the course of work that is happening here at the bagh.

      One gets to see all the sturctures in the tomb complex along with the gardens and fountains, the well called Badi bowli, a neatly designed stepwell. The fine stucco on the structures leaves one amazed and the dainty designs on the minarets are very pleasing to the eye. The tomb of the founder of the dynasty Sultan Quli Qutub-ul-mulk is some distance away to the south west of the tomb of Sultan Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah. A fairly simple tomb structure built on a platform with an octagonal interior with a dome crowning the top. Sultan Quli’s tomb has the inscription Bade Malik or Big Master as he was addressed by that name. The tomb has two graves with another smaller one. Outside there are 21 graves on the plinth, maybe of people close to him. The tomb of Subhan Quli on the same plinth has a dome which being fluted looks very beautiful. Some distance away to the west of Sultan Quli’s tomb is his son Jamsheed Quli’s tomb, an octagonal structure which looks double storeyed with arches and projecting balconies. The balconies have rich ornamental balustrades.. The tomb of Mohammad Amin who died in 1596; who was the sixth son of Sultan Ibrahim Qutub Shah and father of Sultan Mohammad Qutub Shah at a young age of 25, is towards the west of the tomb complex. The tomb has two graves inside.

Tomb of Sultan Quli, founder of the dynasty|D.Vinod

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Fountain, tomb complex, Ibrahimbagh, Hyderabad|Dinesh Singh

     The tomb of Sultan Ibrahim Qutub Shah is some distance away to the south west of Sultan Quli’s mausoleum.The tomb has two graves in the main chamber and another sixteen on the terrace most probably of his children. Sultan Mohammad Qutub Shah’s mausoleum has a circular dome and the central chamber is surrrounded by an arcaded gallery with seven exits or openings. The upper storey has five recesses. 

The tomb of  Sultan Subhan Ali, fondly called Chhote Malik or Little Master lies near his father Jamsheed Quli’s tomb. The other tombs are of the physicians or hakims of the Sultan Abdullah Qutub Shah, Nizamuddin Ahmed Jeelani and Abdul Jabbar Jeelani, tomb of Neknaam Khan who served in Sultan Abdullah’s army, tomb of Fatima Sultan sister of Mohammad Qutub Shah and Kulsoom , his grand-daughter. Also the tombs of courtesans Taramati and Pemamati. The tomb complex was once called Lagar-e-faiz-athar  where songs, dances and drama were regularly staged.

There are also other tombs in the complex of members of the dynasty of the Qutub Shahis which have different architectural features from the main tombs but are very pleasing to the eye with ornate designs.

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Tomb of Hayat Bakshi Begum, tomb complex, Ibrahimbagh, Hyderabad|Dinesh Singh

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Tile decoration, Hayat Bakshi Begum masjid, tomb complex, Ibrahim bagh, Hyderabad|Dinesh Singh

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Tomb of Sultan Jamsheed Quli, tomb complex, Ibrahimbagh, Hyderabad|D. Vinod

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Tomb of Sultan Ibrahim Qutub Shah, Ibrahimbagh, Hyderabad|Soma Ghosh

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Blue tile work remains, Tomb of Sultan Ibrahim Qutub Shah, Ibrahimbagh, Hyderabad|Asif Ali Khan

        The tomb of Sultan Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah who died in 1612 is a striking structure with a double terrace. He was the fifth Sultan and is well rembered for constructing the Charminar at Hyderabad with the Char Kaman and founding the city of Hyderabad. The Sultan’s grave is in a crypt covered with black stone and is lower than the ground. The arcades around are unique and are very cool inside in contrast to the bright sunlight during daytime outside the tomb. The minarets at the corners have exquisite designs.

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Tomb of Sultan Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah, tomb complex, Ibrahimbagh, Hyderabad|D.Vinod

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          Archways, tomb of Sultan Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah, tomb complex,       Ibrahimbagh, Hyderabad|Soma Ghosh

The tomb of the seventh ruler, Sultan Abdullah Qutub Shah appears first to the vistor. The sacrophagus is in black basalt. There are still some traces of blue and green enamel on the minarets. The tomb overall is very impressive with its seven arches built in perfect alignment in its corridors giving a feel of infinity. After this on the left one gets to see the incomplete tomb but actually has the grave of Sultan Abdullah’s eldest son-in-law Mirza Nizamuddin Ahmed.

          Some way from the entrance to the north-west one can locate the impressive tomb of Hayat Bakshi Begum or Ma saheba, who is the daughter of the fifth ruler, Sultan Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah and wife of the 4th ruler, Sultan Mohammad Qutub Shah. Her son was Sultan Abdullah Qutub Shah. She played an important role and was a strong presence in Deccan history of the time. She was fondly called Ma-saheba. Her tomb has seven arches on each side with beautiful minarets at the corners, her sacrophagus in black basalt with verses. Her tomb is ornate and its parapet displays a frieze of flowers. 

     The tomb of Mohammad Qutub Shah is near the tomb of Hayat Baksh Begum to the south. He died in 1626. The graves of his other six children are also in this tomb. The complex has the tombs of Taramati and Pemamati who were sisters and royal dancers and concubines. The mortuary bath is also at the complex where the bodies of the royals would be given a bath before burial; there were cisterns for both hot and cold perfumed water.

Tomb of  Sultan Abdullah Qutub Shah, tomb complex, Ibrahimbagh, Hyderabad| Dinesh Singh

The Hayat Bakshi Begum’s mosque attached to her tomb at the north side of her tomb is an important structure of the complex. It has a prayer hall, a vaulted roof with sunken domes, a facade with five arches and finely designed minarets with pots at the ends on lotus petals. The dome at the centre has beautiful designs; the mihrab has an inscription containing Quranic verses in superb calligraphy around it on black stone. This masjid was built in 1667.

The tomb of the founder of the dynasty Sultan Quli Qutub-ul-mulk is some distance away to the south west of the tomb of Sultan Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah. A fairly simple tomb structure built on a platform with an octagonal interior with a dome crowning the top. The tomb has two graves with another smaller one. Outside there are 21 graves on the plinth, maybe of people close to him. The tomb of Subhan Quli on the same plinth has a dome which being fluted looks very beautiful. Some distance away to the west of Sultan Quli’s tomb is his son Jamsheed Quli’s tomb, an octagonal structure which looks double storeyed. The tomb of Mohammad Amin who died in 1596; who was the sixth son of Sultan Ibrahim Qutub Shah and father of Sultan Mohammad Qutub Shah at a young age of 25, is towards the west of the tomb complex. The tomb has two graves inside.

Lo ! some we loved..the loveliest and the Best

……………..one by one….crept silently to Rest.

                                   ……..from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

Archway at tomb of Sultan  Abdullah Qutub Shah, tomb complex, Ibrahimbagh, Hyderabad|Dinesh Singh

          An unfinished tomb started by Sultan Abul Hasan Tana Shah, houses the grave of Mirza Nizamuddin Ahmed, Sultan Abdullah’s eldest son-in-law. The royal tomb complex also has the mosque of Hayat Bakshi Begum and the dargah of Hazrat Hussain Shah Wali, Sufi saint and builder of the Hussain Sagar at Hyderabad. A mortuary bath in Turkish style exists opposite the tomb of Mohammad Quli.   The tombs of the earlier Sultans are at the back of the bagh. The tombs of the Sultans have Quranic verses especially the ‘throne verse’, the aayat-ul-kursi and the Shia durud  in calligraphy. The tombs look uniform in design but there are some differences especially in the size of the structures. The tombs are usually built on a raised plinth with an arcaded gallery around a square chamber. A ring of lotus petals are seen at the base of the bulbous dome over the structure which looks very ornate and decorative. Aurangzeb had mounted cannons on the tombs during his siege efforts in 1679 to destroy the fortifications of Golconda Fort.

Cannon balls, tomb complex, Ibrahimbagh, Hyderabad|Dinesh Singh

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           Mortuary bath, tomb complex, Ibrahimbagh, Hyderabad|Dinesh Singh

         Bagh Safa, Ibrahimbagh, Hyderabad|Dinesh Singh

When the  sun sets here the silhouette of the tombs are seen against the evening sky; the breeze blows and one feels the whispering of tales of the centuries gone by. India’s poetess Sarojini Naidu has said of the tombs:

The royal tombs of Golconda

I muse among these silent fanes

Whose spacious darkness guards your dust

around me sleep the hoary plains

That hold your ancient wars in trust

I pause,my dreaming spirit hears,

Across the wind’s unquiet tides,

The glimmering music of your spears

The laughter of your royal brides,

The royal tombs of Golconda

In vain o Kings,doth time aspire

to make your names oblivion’s sport

While yonder hill wears like a tier

The ruined grandeur of your fort

Though centuries falter and decline

Your proven strongholds will remain

Embodied memories of your line

Incarnate legends of your reign.

O Queens, in vain old Fate decreed

Your flower-like bodies to the tomb;

Death is in truth the vital seed

Of your imperishable bloom

Each new-born year the bulbuls sing

Their songs of your renascent loves;

Your beauty wakens with the spring

To kindle these pomegranate groves.

 

 

References and image attributions

       1.History of the Qutub Shahi dynasty/H.K Sherwani, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal,   1974.

       2.The art and architecture of the Deccan Sultanates/George Michell and Mark Zebrowski, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

       3. The heritage of the Qutub Shahis of Golconda and Hyderabad/M.A Nayeem, Hyderabad: Hyderabad Publishers, 2006.

       4. poetryarchive.com

       5. Images by are by Dinesh Singh, D. Vinod, Asif Ali Khan and the author.

 

Posted by :

 

Soma Ghosh

 

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Tree of life : images from Golconda textiles

           The art of Kalamkari  originated in Machilipatnam, Pallakolu and other places along the Coromandel coast during the 17th century.  It originated as a religious tapestry and later became a secular craft under Muslim rule. The kingdom of Golconda in the Deccan, India was a trading centre for diamonds, gems and textiles. The word Kalamkari or working with the pen evolved when the Golconda Sultans called the craftsmen as ‘kalamkars‘. ‘Kalamkari‘ thus literally means, art work done using a pen. The craft continues to this day with many families devoted to this art. Natural substances from plants, trees and seeds are used in the art and called painted using resist and mordant technique. Depicted are some images using this technique, of the tree of life, a unique and universal concept.
    The tree of life is a concept mainly from mythology, a sacred belief connecting all forms of creation. it is depicted in various cultures and traditions of the world. The tree of life is thought of as related to the eternal, a destroyer of sorrow, health, fertility, wisdom and calmness. In the Hindu faith it is the wish fulfilling Kalpavriksha which grants every wish. In Christianity the tree is the source of eternal life. The tree of life is the tree of immortality in Islamic faith. The concept spans across cultures. It is asymbol of connectivity, having roots with the soil; the leaves and branches reaching to the sky, receiving the sun and air. The tree of life represents continuity as it grows from a seed and creates a fruit with seeds, which again gives birth to the new. The tree of life is a symbol of rebirth, the leaves fall in autumn or hibernate in winter and in spring the new leaves appear like being born again.
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Tree of life,  Tent Hanging or Curtain, late 17th century, Golconda, LACMA, U. S. A.
      Charles Darwin proposed a tree of life which is symbolic of the source of all living things. In Chinese mythology,a dragon and phoenix are depicted in the tree of life. The dragon represents immortality. The Bodhi tree is the wisdom tree under which Siddharta Gautama attained enlightenment and became the Buddha. This tree is seen as one where once can seek refuge from worldly desires. the Celtic tree symbolises the forces of nature joining together to maintain balance in the universe. Many animals are are also seen in the tree of life depictions. Birds too are seen on the branches. sometimes the underworld is shown with a water-monster. All forms of life are connected and humans should live in harmony with the world. Everyone has a right to exist and grow as we are children of the Universe.

                The block-printed and dyed textile from the Coromandel coast depicted below consists of a tree of life within ovoid medallions, flanked by cobras and peacocks, the border is of a continuous floral garland. Originally this technique of painted resist and mordant happened under the rule of the Golconda kingdom (1512-1687). However the practice continued in the following centuries with ups and downs, but continues to this day though the designs have changed over the years. The technique was called Kalamkari which is still prevalent.

A PALAMPORE COROMANDEL COAST, SOUTH INDIA, SECOND QUARTER 19TH CENTURY The block-printed and dyed decoration consisting of a central tree within ovoid medallions, flanked by cobras and peacocks, the border a continuous floral garland, small inventory or shipping stamp to a corner 116 ½ x 91in. (296 x 231cm.

Palampore, painted resist and mordant, dyed textile, Coromandel coast, 19th century.

Image sourced from Christie’s.com

       Palampores were a regular feature of the 18th-century chintz trade to Europe, where they were used as wall hangings and bed-covers and table-cloths. The embroidered palampore below was chain stitched in silk on cotton to create a painted effect. The craftsmen have worked out white silk stitches within the flowers to simulate the tiny white  patterns that appear on painted textiles. Instead of shown as emerging from the usual hilly mound, this tree grows out of an interpretation of a Chinese scholar’s rock, highlighting the overlapping of Chinese, Indian, and European motifs in 18th-century exotic textiles from the East.

* Palampore Cotton embroidered with silk mid-18th century (Coromandel Coast), for the European market Embroidered Palampore was chain stitched in silk on cotton to imitate a painted palampore with remarkable precision. The embroiderers even used white silk stitches within the flowers to simulate the tiny white reserve patterns that appear on painted examples.

Palampore, embroidered textile, cotton with silk, Coromandel coast, mid-18th century, Met Museum, U S A

        Palmapores depicting the tree of life show a central flower-and-fruit-bearing serpentine tree emerging from a hillock with stylized peaks or rocks. In addition to those produced for the Dutch and English markets, a class of smaller palampores was made expressly for the intra-Asian trade. This painted version depicted below was originally sourced to Sri Lanka, maybe produced for the European communities in Batavia and Colombo.


Palampore, Cotton (painted resist and mordant, dyed), India (Coromandel Coast), for the Sri Lankan market

Palampore, painted resist and mordant, dyed textile, Coromandel coast, early 18th century, Met Museum, U S A.
The textile piece below is a tree of life depicting the mound, peacocks and flowering tree. The border is an ornate double floral scroll. Done using the Kalamkari technique it is an exquisite work.

Olive-Multicolor Cotton Hand Painted Kalamkari Wall Hanging 46in x 32.5in
Tree of life, Kalamkari hanging, 21st century.

Image : Jaypore.com



References :

  • wikipedia.org
  • wootandhammy.com
  • spiritualray.com
  • old-earth.com
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Soma Ghosh
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Golconda in art : images of royalty

          Golconda was one among the Sultanates of the Deccan during 16th -18th century India. Known all over the world for its fortifications, big arsenals, ruined palaces, gardens, fountains, pools, mosques and terraces and leader in diamond trade with expertise in cutting an polishing the stone; as it was available in the mines in the bed of the river Krishna. The hill fortress at a height of 400 feet above the ground, housed the king’s soldiers, harem, treasury, courtiers and followers. The area within the fort also housed a population which grew too large and a new capital for the kingdom was made at Hyderabad by Sultan Mohammad Quli in 1591. The kingdom extended over the Southern peninsula starting from the Godavari river upto the Cape Comorin and up to the Indian Ocean in the east.

   The art of the Golconda kingdom and some of it’s representations are elucidated for an idea of the art of the Golconda and Hyderabad school of Deccani painting. Deccani painting evolved when the Deccan Sultanates namely, Ahmadnagar, Bijapur and Golconda started producing paintings of great quality. There was a strong Persian influence on their art. However their art was distinct and has earned itself a unique place in the history of Indian painting. Deccani paintings were not dated or inscribed with the name of the painter as the Mughal ones.

  Coming to the subject at hand, namely Golconda, it can be said that the Persianate character of their painting can be attributed to the fact that the first king, Sultan Quli had migrated from Persia to Bidar in 1478. The Qutub Shahis maintained close ties; which included matrimony with the Safavids and patronised poets and painters from Persia.The typicality of Golconda paintings lies in its opulence and vitality which has an Indian flavour of richness.

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Portrait, Sultan Abdullah Qutub Shah of Golconda.

By Unknown – , CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24570593

      The Kulliyat-e- Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah , a collection of the Sultan’s poetry contains many illustrations which depict the Golconda school of painting. Iridiscent colours including bluish-purple, salmon-red,pricked gold surfaces are typically Golconda style.There are other astonishing and splendorous  examples too.

File:Illuminated Manuscript of the History of the Qutb Shahi Sultans of Golconda LACMA M.89.159.4 (2 of 5).jpg

lIluminated Manuscript of the History of the Qutb Shahi Sultans of Golconda LACMA , 17th century.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AIlluminated_Manuscript_of_the_History_of_the_Qutb_Shahi_Sultans_of_Golconda_LACMA_M.89.159.4_(2_of_5).jpg

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

File:Illuminated Manuscript of the History of the Qutb Shahi Sultans of Golconda LACMA M.89.159.4 (3 of 5).jpg

lIluminated Manuscript of the History of the Qutb Shahi Sultans of Golconda LACMA , 17th century.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AIlluminated_Manuscript_of_the_History_of_the_Qutb_Shahi_Sultans_of_Golconda_LACMA_M.89.159.4_(3_of_5).jpgSee page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Illuminated Manuscript of the History of the Qutb Shahi Sultans of Golconda LACMA M.89.159.4 (1 of 5).jpg

Illuminated Manuscript of the History of the Qutb Shahi Sultans of Golconda,LACMA , 17th century.

By Image: http:/collections.lacma.org/sites/default/files/remote_images/piction/ma-2794559-O3.jpgGallery: http://collections.lacma.org/node/177837, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27254257

 

After the death of Sultan Abdullah Qutub Shah. Abul Hasan ascended the throne. He was the son-in-law, ie. husband of the second daughter of Abdullah Qutub Shah. He was a follower of Shah Raju, and used to live in Gulbarga. Both of them came to Hyderabad. Shah Raju was a mystic and influenced the new court. Madanna, a Hindu became prime -minister and farmans (royal diktats) began to be issued in both Telugu and Persian. Urdu, Telugu and Arabic literature was patronised. There were influences in art too. Abul Hasan was nicknamed Tana Shah meaning king of taste. Many paintings of the Golconda school can be attributed to his time. The school was kept alive even after the defeat of Tana Shah in 1687 to Aurangzeb.The Mughal governors and local aristocracy engaged painters to work for them.

*Portrait of Navab General Firoz Khan, c.1670.jpg
Firuz Khan,nobleman, 17th century, Golconda.

By Unknown – http://www.artsmia.org/viewer/detail.php?v=12&id=2734, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19044933

Visit of Sufi singer Shir Muhammad to Abul Hasan Qutb Shah, later Golconda school,1720.

By Govardhan II – http://expositions.bnf.fr/inde/grand/exp_031.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19082077

Akbar Shah, son of the Deccani saint Shah Raju (6124544567).jpg

Akbar Shah, Son of saint Shah Raju,17th century.

By thesandiegomuseumofartcollection – Flickr, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38309515

Lady with the Myna Bird.jpg

Lady with a myna bird, early 17th century,Golconda.

By Deccan School – http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/features/12-11/features2319.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21077969

 

 

 

 

References :

  • Khan, Nazirul-Islam/Guide to Golconda, Bombay : Thacker & Company Limited,1941.
  • Zebrowski, Mark/Deccani painting, New Delhi : Roli Books,1983.

 

 

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Soma Ghosh

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