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

  • Publication planned for: September 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108481939

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  • 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.

    • Draws attention to the history of courts, rather than kings, in Indian history
    • Allows a more complex understanding of ethical life in pre-colonial Indo-Persian societies
    • Utilises understudied sources, such as those on magic and astrology
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The Courts of the Deccan Sultanates shifts the spotlight from South Asian kingship and rulers to the courtly environments they inhabited. Challenging Orientalist stereotypes of Indo-Muslim courts as mired in luxury and decadence, the book examines the courts of the early modern Deccan on their own terms, showing how the syncretic sensibilities and skills they cultivated accommodated the wide range of peoples who served in them. A marvellous achievement and a convincing exploration in historical anthropology.' Richard Eaton, University of Arizona

    'In this magisterial work, Emma J. Flatt skillfully opens up for us the 'black box' of Persianate court culture. Always recognized as important but never before theorized or understood in any detail, the social networks and bodily practices of Persianate courtly culture now stand illuminated in all their fascinating complexity.' Phillip B. Wagoner, Wesleyan University, Connecticut

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    Product details

    • Publication planned for: September 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108481939
    • length: 336 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.69kg
    • contains: 16 b/w illus. 4 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: cosmopolitanism, courtliness and ethics in the Deccani Sultanates
    Part I. Courtly Society:
    1. Courtly disposition
    2. Networks, patrons and friends
    3. Courts, merchants and commodities
    Part II. Courtly Skills:
    4. Scribal skills
    5. Esoteric skills
    6. Martial skills
    Concluding remarks.

  • Author

    Emma J. Flatt, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    Emma J. Flatt is Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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