Baz Bahadur and Rani Rupmati

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Baz Bahadur and Rani Rupmati
Mid 18th Century

Place of Origin: Hyderabad, Deccan
Materials: Paper
Dimensions: L: 24.7 W: 20 cm
Acc. No. 49.19/285

A brilliant masterpiece in characteristic Deccani style the painting represents Baz Bahadur, the mid-16th century Sultan of Mandu, the capital of Malwa now in Madhya Pradesh, a great musician and lyricist and one of the most handsome persons of his time, and his Queen Roopmati, a great singer, who passed into an icon of love and beauty in which on national/international forums the state of Madhya Pradesh seeks its identity. For their love that soared beyond compulsions of polity the legendary couple had passed into folklore, songs and tales, in their very lifetime.

Baz Bahadur and Roopmati are yet the living legends in Malwi folk and the walls of Baz Bahadur's palace and Roopmati's pavilions at Mandu are believed to still vibrate with their music and songs. Baz Bahadur had discovered Roopmati in music and hence it was dearer to him than even his kingdom. One day, when on a hunting expedition a melody piercing the column of trees reached him. He moved along the melody and reached Roopmati, an exceptional beauty. He instantly fell in love and when her father Thakur Than Singh did not agree to their marriage, he obtained her in a fierce battle. Their love lasted till 1661 when Akbar's military general Adam Khan defeated him and captured Mandu, Roopmati preferring death to being a Mughal captive.

The royal couple has been represented as enjoying a horse-ride along a lake on one side, and a column of deep green trees, on the other. Baz Bahadur is riding a bluish horse, and Roopmati, orangish, both beautifully caparisoned and exceptionally stylized. For giving a more natural touch the artist has painted also a few aquatic birds: ducks and cranes. The royal lovers are richly clad, Baz Bahadur in long white gown, and Roopmati, in blouse, sash and lower wear. Both are wearing elaborate turbans. Baz Bahadur is carrying a spear in one of his hands, and holding the reins, with the other. Roopmati's face turned towards Baz Bahadur and its gesture indicate that the Queen has made some suggestion that engages the mind of Baz Bahadur who is in a pensive mood.

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