The Courts of the Deccan Sultanates: Living Well in the Persian Cosmopolis

8 January 2021

In the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, courtliness was crucial to the political and cultural life of the Deccan. Divided between six states competing for territory, resources and skills, the medieval and early modern Deccan was a region of striking ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity. People used multifaceted trans-regional networks – mercantile, kinship, friendship and intellectual – to move across the Persian-speaking world and to find employment at the Deccan courts.

This movement, Emma J. Flatt argues, was facilitated by the existence of a shared courtly disposition. Engagement in courtly skills such as letter-writing, perfume-making, astrological divination, performing magic, sword-fighting and wrestling thus became a route to both worldly success and ethical refinement. Using a diverse range of treatises, chronicles, poetry and letters, Flatt unpicks the ways this challenged networks of acceptable behaviour and knowledge in the Indo-Islamicate courtly world – and challenges the idea of perpetual hostility between Islam and Hinduism in Indian history.

Watch the video below.



Emma Flatt

Emma Flatt is an Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a Visiting Associate Professor at NUS with a joint appointment in the South Asia Studies Programme and the History Department. She has a PhD in History from the School of Oriental and African Studies (2009). Her work focuses on the social and cultural history of early modern India.

Evrim Binbaş

Evrim Binbaş received his PhD degree from the University of Chicago. After seven years at Royal Holloway, University of London, he moved to the Institute of Oriental and Asian Studies at the University of Bonn, Germany. He studies early modern Islamic history with a particular focus on the Timurid and Turkmen dynasties in the fifteenth century.

Subah Dayal

Subah Dayal is an Assistant Professor at Gallatin, New York University. She is a historian of the Indian Ocean, with a focus on early modern South Asia and the Persianate world. Her research interests are in connected histories, household studies, comparative early modernities, global history, and pre-modern documentary and manuscript cultures.