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Qutb Shahi

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The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture What is This? Provides in-depth historical and cultural information on over a thousand years of Islamic art and architecture

Qutb Shahi

Dynasty that ruled portions of southern India from 1512 to 1687. It was founded by Quli Qutb Shah (r. 1512–43), a Qaraqoyunlu Turkmen prince who emigrated to Bidar, capital of the Bahmani rulers, in 1478 and became the governor of the Telanga or Telingana region of the eastern Deccan. After the murder of the minister Mahmud Gawan in 1481, Quli Qutb Shah made Golconda his main center and in 1512 declared his independence. Like the rulers of the other Bahmani successor states, he engaged in constant wars with his neighbors, chiefly Orissa and Vijayanagara. Such conflicts continued in the long reign of Ibrahim Qutb Shah (r. 1550–80), who joined the alliance that destroyed Vijayanagara in 1565. Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah (r. 1580–1612) was, like his contemporary the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556–1605), devoted to creative ventures. He founded the city of Hyderabad on the Musi River in 1590–91 and adorned it with gardens, palaces, mosques and other buildings, including the famous Char Minar (Four Minarets), a gateway at the crossing leading to the four quarters of the old city. He was also a notable patron of the book arts (see Illustration, §VI, E, 7). Decline set in as the Mughal rulers pursued their expansionist policy in the Deccan. ῾Abdullah Qutb Shah (r. 1626–72) signed a “Deed of Submission” to the Mughals but maintained considerable independence. ῾Abdullah's mausoleum is regarded as the most characteristic dynastic tomb at Golconda. Abu῾l Hasan Qutb Shah (r. 1672–87) struggled against the forces of the Mughals and the Marathas under Shivaji. The Mughal emperor Awrangzib (r. 1658–1707) finally besieged and captured Golconda in 1687.

Qutbshahi art and architecture are marked by a distinct Persianate style, due in part to the Iranian antecedents of the dynasty and to the close contacts they maintained with their contemporary Shi῾ite rulers in Iran, the Safavids. Like them, the Qutbshahis patronized poets and painters. Muhammad Quli was himself a poet, and his collection of Urdu poetry in the Salar Jung Museum is one of the most richly illustrated Indian books. Rather than the Mughal interest in realism, Qutbshahi painting is idealized, marked by fantastic color and distorted forms that produce an atmosphere of languor and lyricism. Their stronghold at Golconda, which was expanded under successive rulers, notably Ibrahim in the second half of the 16th century, and the new city of Hyderabad, are similarly indebted to Persianate models in the symmetrical layout of bazaar streets, arched portals, open squares, gardens and fountains. Their religious architecture shows a distinct sculptural aspect, with deeply modeled plasterwork, pierced plaster screens, fluted brackets and cornices, and petals surrounding the base of bulbous domes.

Bibliography

  • A. M. Siddiqui: History of Golconda (Hyderabad, 1956)
  • H. K. Sherwani: Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah (London, 1967)
  • H. K. Sherwani: History of the Qutb-Shahi Dynasty (New Delhi, 1974)
  • J. F. Richards: Mughal Administration at Golconda (Oxford, 1975)
  • H. K. Sherwani: “Town Planning and Architecture of Haidarabad under the Qutb Shahis,” Islam. Cult., l (1976), pp. 61–80
  • M. Zebrowski: Deccani Painting (London, 1983), pp. 153–207
  • D. N. Varma: “Qutbshahi Miniatures in the Salar Jung Museum,” Salar Jung Museum Bi-annual Research Journal, xix–xx (1984), pp. 55–68
  • G. Michell: “Golconda and Hyderabad,” Islamic Heritage of the Deccan, ed. G. Michell (Bombay, 1986), pp. 77–85
  • D. James: “The ‘Millennial’ Album of Muhammad-Quli Qutb Shah,” Islam. A., ii (1987), pp. 243–54
  • S. H. Safrani: Golconda and Hyderabad (Bombay, 1992)
  • A. A. Hussain: “Qutb Shahi Garden Sites in Golconda and Hyderabad,” The Mughal Garden: Interpretation, Conservation and Implications, ed. M. Hussain, A. Rehman and J. L. Wescoat (Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi, 1996), pp. 93–104
  • G. Michell and M. Zebrowski: Architecture and Art of the Deccan Sultanates, New Cambridge History of India, 1.7 (Cambridge, 1999), pp. 17–18, 47–53, 98–106, 191–226, 269–70
  • V. K. Bawa: The Politics of Architecture in Qutb Shahi Hyderabad: A Preliminary Analysis,” Studies in History of the Deccan: Medieval and Modern: Professor A. R. Kulkarni Felicitation Volume, ed. M. A. Nayeem, A. Ray and K. S. Mathew (Delhi, 2002), pp. 329–41
  • M. A. Nayeem: The Heritage of the Qutb Shahis of Golconda and Hyderabad (Hyderabad, 2006)
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