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Vague Traits

Strategy and Ambiguities in the Decorative Programme of the Aḥmad Šāh I Bahmanī Mausoleum

Sara Mondini    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia    



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.


Keywords: Ni’matullāhiyyaReligious identityShi’aBahmanīFunerary architectureDeccan

Copyright: © 2016 Sara Mondini. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.