Local idioms and global designs: Architecture of the Nizam Shahs

Pushkar Sohoni, University of Pennsylvania


The Nizam Shahs of Ahmadnagar are relatively unstudied, particularly with respect to their material remains. While providing convenient comparanda for other regional kingdoms in the Deccan, their material record has been largely overlooked as possessing its own merit and place. This research does not attempt a chauvinistic appraisal of their architecture, suggesting that it necessarily has aesthetic merit or provides an Ur moment in architectural history. Rather, the attempt is to systematize the extant architecture as a key piece in uncovering its development in this region. Archaeological and art historical methods have been used in this endeavor, and allow a better appreciation not only of the stylistic attributes of the buildings, but also of the social systems of which the materials are a product. ^ The study of architecture in the twenty-first century cannot be a précis of appreciation for aesthetic merit, but the buildings and sites are important documents of social and economic history. The built material is prime, not copiously supported by texts as in the case of the Mughal dynasty. The methodology applied is that of material culture, taken as a record not only of the physicality, but also of the local know-how and social systems. Extensive fieldwork and post-structural observations have been used in arriving at the conclusions. An argument can be made for the presence of a 'sub-altern' history of the architecture, even if it has been largely patronized by the royal court and its nobility. It is possible that similar exercises on other smaller regional kingdoms in this period will reshape our knowledge of the sixteenth century in the Deccan, along with its architectural and planning aspirations. ^

Subject Area

Art History|South Asian Studies|Architecture

Recommended Citation

Sohoni, Pushkar, "Local idioms and global designs: Architecture of the Nizam Shahs" (2010). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3429156.