Sovereignty

Sovereignty

Lucknow was the capital of Awadh, a province of the Mughal empire. In 1722 the reigning Mughal emperor designated an Iranian nobleman, Saadat Khan, as the governor of the province (r. 1722–39). Due to the weakening of imperial power, Saadat Khan was able to gradually assert his independence. He appointed his nephew Safdar Jang as his successor (r. 1739–54), and thereby established a hereditary dynasty in Awadh. The rulers of Awadh came to be known by their title of nawab, literally "deputy" or "vice-regent."

The early nawabs shifted their seats of rule between Lucknow and Faizabad. Both cities flourished as vibrant artistic centers under Nawab Shuja al-Daula (r. 1754–75) and Nawab Asaf al-Daula (r. 1775–97) who, in 1775, fixed the capital permanently at Lucknow. Lucknow's rulers were depicted in various portraits by Indian and European artists who were employed by the court.

One of the Europeans who worked for the Lucknow court was the British artist Robert Home. In 1819 he designed the regalia for the coronation of Ghazi al-Din Haidar (r. 1814-27) as the King of Awadh. Home's creations included a gem-studded golden throne based on Mughal precedents. He also designed crowns, robes, commemorative medals, and a coat-of-arms that were European in inspiration. Similar coronation garb was worn by the King Nasir al-Din Haidar (r. 1827-37), seen above. The visual emblems of the coronation were liberally employed by later rulers until the last king of Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah (r. 1847-56) was deposed by the British. 

 


Image 1: Muhammad Azam, Nasir al-Din Haidar, India, Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, c. 1830, Oil on canvas, Collection of Drs. Aziz and Deanna Khan. 

Image 2: Saadat Khan Burhan al-Mulk and Safdar Jang, India, Uttar Pradesh, Faizabad, c. 1750–60, Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, Page 18 5/8 x 133 3/4 in. Image 13 x 10 in. Mohammed Rezai Collection. 

Image 3: Tilly Kettle (England, 1735–1786),Nawab Shuja al-Daula with the Heir Apparent, Mirza Amani, Later Asaf al-Daula, India, Uttar Pradesh, Faizabad, 1772, Oil on canvas, 92 x 64 3/8 in. Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon, MV 3888, INV 10053, LP 6412. 

Image 4: The Audience Chamber of the Kings of Awadh, India, Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, c. 1850, Watercolor on paper, Page 14 13/16 x 27 19/32 in., image 12 13/32 x 26 7/32 in., Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, MSS 941.2. 

Image 5: Commemoration Medal of Ghazi al-Din Haidar, India, Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, 1819, Silver, Diam. 2 1/2 in. (6.6 cm), Kenneth and Joyce Robbins. 

Image 6: Presentation Cup with Coat-of-Arms of Wajid Ali Shah, India, Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, 1847–56, Repoussé silver, Overall 16 5/16 x 14 3/4 in., Elizabeth and John Sequeira.