PAINTING OF THE DECCAN
In 1570 a second book was illustrated in the Deccan an encyclopaedia called the Nujum al-Ulum or 'Stars of the Sciences'. Though here again much is Persianthe lavish use of gold, white and purple, and the flowered and patterned groundsthe style of Vijayanagar has left its mark on the female figures. These heavily bejewelled women wear their sari drawn across the bosom in southern fashion, the fall of the long, spreading end giving a lift and amplitude to the figure. The miniatures, though uneven and containing nothing comparable with the Ahmadnagar page, have a scale which suggests the fresco - rather than the book painter. The three kingdoms of the southern Deccan had all associated on terms of friendship with Vijayanagar before Talikota. Literary tradition claims there were painters at the court of Ali Adil Shah I (1558-80) of Bijapur, and it may well have been for his library that the Nujum al-Ulum was prepared.
The promise of the Ahmadnagar page was realized in a small group of paintings illustrating the modes (ragas and raginis) of Indian music. The composition remains a simple tableau of a few figures, framed by a pavilion beneath a cluster of domes or set against a patterned ground above formal arcading. The conventional Persian landscape continues to be used, but more ambitiously. Splendid peacocks, heraldically placed, frequently form an important element in the design. The colour range becomes more sumptuous and arresting. The figures acquire a new expressiveness, due not so much to a timid modelling of the face as to the extravagant sweep of sash and sari, which often gives the women the appearance of brilliant tropical birds. We do not know for whom this lovely series was painted. The lion's share of Deccan painting is commonly attributed to the state of Bijapur, where both Ali I and his more famous nephew Ibrahim II (1580-1627) were cultivated and generous patrons of the arts. It was Ali, who after Talikota first converted his city into a great capital. The tastes and personality of Ibrahim are more familiar. He was himself, in current eulogy, an excellent artist and calligrapher, devoted to music and a sound performer on several instruments. He was also a poet, and it is of interest that in some of his songs the musical modes are visualized as gods, lovely women or seasons of the year - an idea which was gaining popularity in Islamic India at this period. Though both the early books contribute to our series, it has more the feel of the Nujum al-Ulum, which on account of its prosaic subject, may not fairly represent the standard of accomplishment in the southern Deccan. If we see our patron in Ibrahim, the raga paintings must be placed in the last decade of the century, for in 1590 the young king was only nineteen.

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