indo islamic

Glorious Gems of MP - Purana Mahal of Datia

It is a chilly November morning at 9 am, and we are on our way to Datia. The entire drive had very limited visibility and it felt like the fog had developed its own character overnight and started travelling with us like an old companion. Little did I know, this was probably the best preface for the place I was about to visit shortly. Around mid-day, the fog started clearing up to reveal some friendly jaggery hawkers.

I looked around, and find myself surrounded by sugarcane fields! That is when I learnt that the periphery of this district is famous for jaggery factories.

Biting on a few delicious pieces, I moved towards Tourist Motel in Datia where I got a glimpse of the main attraction - the marvellous Bir Singh Palace, also known as Datia Palace and locally referred to as the Purana Mahal. I sat on a bench, looking at the breathtaking view of this overwhelmingly stunning palace!

This palace is famous as a testimony to friendship. As I wondered the story behind the palace, my guide narrated one of the most unique stories I have heard in a long time. Centuries ago, when Bundela Raja Bir Singh and Akbar entered into an alliance at Orchha, it marked the beginning of a friendship with the Mughal ruler’s son Jahangir. Bir Singh built the Jahangir Mahal at Orchha to welcome him on his first visit to the city. But the Raja was not too impressed by the Orchha Mahal and so went on to build this majestic maze of a palace in Datia.

Up close, Bir Singh Palace was more than just a spectacle. So much so that I was awe struck by the entrance gate itself. Each of the tiles, carvings, colours, motifs had a tale about a great friendship. The figures in yellow represent Bir Singh and the one in green depict Jahangir placed in numerous frames made to look like almirahs. The main arch has carvings of them catching deers, a dragon like figure as well as motifs of the sun and the moon.

Sadly, a lot of the enamel work had withered away with time but it still does not need a lot of imagination to guess how breathtaking it must have been when it was built. I spent a good amount of time gazing at the gate and figuring out these stories that were the inspiration for this wall.

Built entirely of brick and stone with no cement or iron to hold it together, this palace is one of the finest examples of the blend of Indo-Islamic architecture. Designed in the form of a Swastik, it is a great balance of classical and symmetrical.  No wonder Sir Edward Lutyens, the renowned British architect was awestruck by this palace. He was so overwhelmed by Datia Mahal that he chose to visit other edifices in India before he embarked on designing New Delhi.

The palace stands on a square base with octagonal towers on each of its corners. Some of the ceilings have beautifully carved islamic patterns that looked like the night sky filled with stars. Some of them have naqqashi work. The chhatris are in the shape of a lotus petal, whereas arches and doorways are clearly inspired my islamic architecture. Every wall spoke to me about the beautiful aesthetics and whispered poems of friendship. Although the rooms with stucco work were shut, I managed to get a peek of a few figures - trees, birds, vases - simply stunning. This wonderful fusion of two worlds made it even more interesting to spend more time around this place.

In the 17th century, the cost of building this palace was about a whopping 35 lakhs but the heartbreaking part is that no one actually ended up living in it.

And the biggest irony - even Jahangir himself was never able to visit it.

About the artist 

Neethi Goldhawk is an independent illustrator and textile print designer who loves drawing all things dreamy, inspired by nature and life. She has illustrated for platforms like Redbull Amaphiko and Launchora. Her pen name (Goldhawk) was concocted in the crowded space of her mind full of absurd characters, who are but little children at heart. She is an avid Tumblr blogger and can be found here

By Neethi Goldhawk

sweets-books-and-anime  asked:

Hi, I love your blog so much, especially the posts you have on describing POC. I'm writing a fantasy story right now and the culture of the kingdom my mc is from is heavily based on Indian culture, with me being Indian myself. I'm wondering if this could be considered cultural appropriation or what would be considered as appropriation in this case.

A kingdom based on Indian culture

I’m always one to say that if you belong to a culture, you should get first crack at messing around with it, whether in fiction or reality.  It can’t be cultural appropriation if it’s your culture to begin with.  Thing is, you have no control over how other members of your culture are going to react.  There are a billion Indians out there and we all love to argue about everything under the sun. 

You’re gonna piss some people off.  If you’re comfortable with that, then go for it.

That being said, you don’t give any more information on what you plan to do beyond stating that it’s based on “Indian culture,” and I would argue that there really isn’t any one such thing.  The subcontinent is a big place, spanning many regions and environments, each with their own distinct customs and traditions.  Yes, there are certain commonalities that allow us to group them all as “Indian” or “South Asian,” but, say, Kashmiri culture and Gujarati culture and Bengali culture and Tamil culture are as different as they are similar.

In addition, “Indian culture” has changed greatly over time, so when you say “Indian culture,” are you referring to ancient Vedic culture, medieval Hindu-Buddhist culture, Indo-Islamic culture, or something else?

Furthermore, you can argue that different social classes have their own distinct cultures.  This is maybe less pronounced in the modern age than it was in, for example, the medieval period, but you find that artistic, spiritual, and material cultures in India could have very pronounced differences, from priestly orthodoxy to the state-level kingdoms, to the family groups of artisans and workers, to tribal peoples all over the region.  Do you intend to focus on one of these distinctions or to examine a broad cross-section, and all the social intricacies that come with and cause those cultural differences?  Here’s where you need to be careful because your own background may not be the same as the groups you’re drawing inspiration from, and you may verge onto cultural appropriation, especially if you come from a background that historically exerted power over those groups.

In short, I think that while it’s fine for you, as an Indian person, to write a fantasy kingdom based on “Indian culture,” I think you may need to put some more thought into what exactly you mean by that as I think it would be impossible to encompass the cultural and historical variety of the subcontinent in one single story without it melting into a mishmash of stereotypes.
Hope that helps!

~Mod Nikhil


Hosay or Tadjah is a West Indian commemoration, in which multi-colored model mausoleums are paraded, then ritually offered up to the sea, or any body of water. Some contemporary writers equate the multi-colored mausoleums with “mosques.” In British Guiana, now Guyana, and Suriname, the festival was called Taziya or creolized into Tadjah in reference to these floats, the most visible and decorative element of this festival.

The Hosay celebration is a Caribbean manifestation of the Shi'a Muslim Remembrance of Muharram. Though once celebrated by all Indo-Caribbean peoples, it observance is currently limited to parts of Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica. The name Hosay comes from the name of Imam Husayn (the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad) who was assassinated by Yazid in Karbala. Imam Husayn’s martyrdom is commemorated in the festival. In Trinidad and Tobago, it is primarily celebrated in Saint James, in northwestern Trinidad, and in Cedros, in southwestern Trinidad. Recently, it has been revived elsewhere on the island as well. In Jamaica, in the past, each parish celebrated Hosay, but today it is primarily observed in Clarendon, where it is celebrated each August.

The Remembrance of Muharram was brought to the Caribbean by Shi'a Muslims who emigrated from India in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. However, it has, from the beginning, been attended by both non-Shi'a Muslims and non-Muslims as well. This interfaith aspect of Hosay has its precedent in the Muharram celebrations of Lucknow and Awadh, from where many Indo-Caribbean families can trace their ancestry. Today, Hosay has largely lost its religious association with Shi'a Islam and become an expression of Indo-Caribbean culture in general. Afro-Caribbeans and other ethnic groups also have a long tradition of participating in Hosay.


koprophagoi  asked:

Can you talk about the inspirations for the art direction of Deadfire Archipelago material culture. E.g. for architecture, sculptures, weapons, nautical vessels etc. ? Certainly noticing quite a broad mix of real world correlates in elements from Indo-Islamic, Persian, South-East Asian, Polynesian, and even more.

I’ll be brief with this response as well because I’d hate to steal the limelight from our fantastic art team, headed by Kaz Aruga.  We’ve tried to spread out our influences in the Deadfire, so we’re relying less on European sources of inspiration, much more on SE Asian, Polynesian (e.g. Māori, Balinese), east African, Indian, and other cultures.