Sultan 'Ali 'Adil Shah II
Artist/maker unknown, Indian
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During the reign of Sultan 'Ali 'Adil Shah II of Bijapur (reigned 1656-72), ruler of one of the five Islamic kingdoms of the Deccan, the threat of Mughal military domination increased. In painting, however, the Deccani preference for fanciful, decorative compositions reasserted itself over the Mughal naturalism that had filtered into Bijapuri painting during the previous three decades. The sultan stands in a strange landscape; a small hill gives way to a mysterious field of gray that ends abruptly at a group of pink and blue rocks where birds perform aerial tricks. 'Ali 'Adil Shah is oddly drawn, his fingers distorted to follow the shape of his shield, rather than the form of human anatomy.