Cookbooks in 16th century India
The British Library's Niʿmatnāmah brings to life the gastronomic delights, aromas and indulgences of the 16th century Malwa court. Dedicated to the Malwa Sultans, Ghyias-al-Din Shah and Nasir-al-Din Shah, its many illustrations and accompanying text provide a rare vista into the decadence of this Sultanate court and its obliging female retinue. Besides being one of only four illustrated royal manuscripts known to have survived from the Sultanate period, its rediscovery in the 1950s provided compelling evidence for the patronage of painting at a Sultanate court. Following the fall of the Malwa Sultanate, the Niʿmatnāmah was thought to have entered a Mughal royal library and subsequently the collection of Tipu Sultan, the Deccani ruler. Evidently an illustrated manuscript that was esteemed over the centuries, this talk takes another look at the celebrated Niʿmatnāmah more than half a century after it came to light.
The speaker is Preeti Khosla, an independent researcher and lecturer. A participant of the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinkers scheme, her work on both Sultanate and Rajasthani painting has been published. Preeti’s doctoral research (SOAS, University of London) focused upon the artistic, literary, religious and cultural exchanges that took place between the Jain, Hindu and Muslim communities of the Sultanate period.