Strategy and Ambiguities in the Decorative Programme of the Aḥmad Šāh I Bahmanī Mausoleum
The essay reconsiders the decorative programme of the Aḥmad Šāh I Bahmanī (r. 1422-1436) mausoleum in Ashtur (Bidar, modern Karnataka) focusing, in particular, on the inscriptions adorning the dome. The reign of the ninth Bahmanī sovereign was marked by a growing complexity as far as the socio-political and religious context is concerned, and also, by a deepening divide between āfāqīs and dakhnīs, and the arrival of the first exponents of the Ni‘matullāhiyya Sufi order in the Deccan. The region witnessed a marked interplay between temporal and spiritual power, and the religious orientation of Aḥmad Šāh I remains debated. By making some specific remarks concerning the decorative scheme and the epigraphic programme of the mausoleum, we not only discuss the idea of the king’s adherence to Shi‘a Islam, but also provide valid support for historians wishing to reconsider the process of Shi‘ization of Deccan and of the Sufi order itself.