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Deccani Paintings - A Melting Pot

This style of painting was developed during the 16th century in the Deccan region,after the rise of the Bahmani successor states. It borrows influences from the neighbouring Vijayanagar empire and from the Persian style of painting. The Deccani artstyle had an effect on miniature paintings developing in the courts of Rajasthan and Central India. The epicentre of this art were Bijapur and Golconda, later Aurangabad and Hyderabad. The Deccani artworks in these planners depict the various levels of details that evolved across time and context.

1. Visit of sufi-singer Shir Muhammad to Sultan Abul Hasan Qutb Shah. The Deccan was the cradle for Sufism, with thousands of Sufis making it their home. This painting depicts Sultan Abul Hasan Qutb Shah, the last sultan of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, with his courtiers in an outdoor setting of what appears to be a palace. Musical instruments such as Sitars can be seen. Abul Hasan Qutb Shah built the Gosha Mahal palace for his harem in 1680s, which is the last remaining palace of the Qutb Shahi dynasty.


2. Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah was the fifth sultan of the Qutb Shahi dynasty and the founder of the city of Hyderabad. Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah was a patron of literature and arts of all forms - like dance, singing, paintings, and himself was a great poet. He is also credited to be the first Diwan (compiler of work) of Urdu. Here Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah is seen riding solo on a decorated elephant while a servant carries an umbrella for shade, from the illustrated manuscript compiled during the period of Sultan Abdullah Qutb Shah.


3. Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II of Bijapur Hunting with a Hawk is a oil on paper painting created by Farrukh Beg from 1590s. The painting depicts the flora and fauna of the Bijapur Sultanate. The Sultan was a poet, artist and Sunni Muslim who upheld values of religious tolerance, including Christians. His reign was cosmopolitan and prosperous.


4. After the first siege of Golconda by Aurangzeb Alamgir, who was still the Viceroy of the Deccan under his father Shah Jahan's reign, Abdullah Qutb Shah was forced to accept the Mughal suzerainty over the Kingdom of Golconda. One of the conditions for the peace treaty was that Abdullah Qutb Shah's daughter be wedded to the Mughal prince Muhammad Sultan and be the successor to his father-in-law upon the latter's demise. The temporary respite afforded by Aurangzeb's return to Hindustan did not deceive Abdullah Qutb Shah, who perceived that his dynasty was tottering to its fall and when Aurangzeb would ascend the throne of Delhi, he would come back to the Deccan Sultanates.

Abdullah had a new phrase inserted in his seal - "ختم بالخیر والسعادۃ"

which meant "it has come to a good and auspicious conclusion" referring to his empire, that he hoped would peacefully transition from him to his son-in-law the Mughal prince Muhammad Sultan. The motto is usually referred to his prescience of the fall of Golconda, but it appears probable that he was comforting himself with the idea that the kingdom would fall into the hands of the Mughals by peaceful succession, and not by conquest. This hope was not destined to be fulfilled, for Muhammad Sultan predeceased Abdullah.


5. The story of Prophet Yusuf and Zulekha This charming painting from Hyderabad shows Zulaykha in a palace garden attended by maids. Yusuf approaches in the background. The story of Yusuf and Zuleikha was a popular romance and was illustrated in many different parts of the Islamic world. This example is done in the distinctive style developed at the Hyderabad court in the 18th century. Zulaykha appears to be sitting in a palace garden attended by maids with Yusuf approaching.


6. Al Buraq - originating from the word ‘Barq’ in Arabic meaning lightning. Al Buraq is the creature that can travel across space and time with the speed of light. The creature was also the mount of the Prophet Mohammed SAWS on his journey to the abode of God, also known as the Ascension. The Buraq is depicted here as a composite of several other creatures like a dragon for its tail, face of a woman, fishes and lions as legs, elephants and fawns form its body.


These illustrations were featured in the Hashtag Outlines planners for the month of June. Curated by Ayeshah Mohammed.

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