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A page from the TARIF-I-HUSAIN SHAHI. Ahmadnagar, 1565-9. Bharata Itihasa Samshodhaka Mandala, Poona
A page from the TARIF-I-HUSAIN SHAHI


The Tarif-i-Husain Shahi, a Persian poem in eleven cantos, celebrates the reign of Husain Nizam Shah I (1565-9) of Ahmadnagar. The poem is unfinished, though the last three pages of the book have been marginated. Fulsome praise of Husain's chief queen, Khanzada Humayun, whose beauty and character form canto V of the poem and who features conspicuously in cantos VI to VIII, and the cutting short of the last cantothe king's death is not narratedsuggest that the book was interrupted by the downfall of the queen, who having acted as regent for her son, Murtaza I, was imprisoned by him in the fort of Shivner in 1569. It is unlikely that her two sons, Murtaza I and Burhan II, neither remarkable for filial piety or indeed any conventional virtue, would have cared to continue the work. The date of the book and its paintings may therefore be accepted as A.D. 1565-9. There were, according to a note on the first page, originally fourteen paintings. There are now twelvebattle (of Talikota) and throne scenes, and the miniature illustrated here. The book also contains some fair illumination.
The miniature illustrates the Dohada theme, in which a tree is made to blossom by a woman's embrace or touch. Only a woman at once lovely and chaste could successfully make this sensuous approach. This charming conceit is as old in Indian art as the sculptures of Bharhut and Sanchi: it is used here as a delicate compliment to the queen. The main charm of the picture lies in the palette, here introduced for the first time, the blue ground and gold sky and gold edging to the leaves contrasting vividly with the orange, yellow and mauve-pink of the figures. The whites are cleverly handled to give movement to the composition and sparkle to the women. The striped scarf with which the attendant fans the queen - a ubiquitous feature in Deccan painting - appears in the Malwa Nimat Namah.