Life & Style

Style of the Sultans

Jamshid Qutb Shah  

There is a Zen-like calm around Fatima Bilgrami when she recalls her dream. “I saw the seven Qutb Shahi rulers in my dream. They were in a big palace with beautiful arches and were wearing the same clothes but slightly faded; They wore huge turbans and also jamas (robe, gown or coat). I also saw a table with many books,” she recalls. The associate professor of department of fashion design of NIFT, Hyderabad, recently presented a research paper titled ‘Royal Costumes of Qutb Shahi rulers of Golconda’ at the international seminar on ‘Telangana Through Ages: Perspectives from Early and Medieval Periods.’

Dream come true

For someone who is passionate about costumes worn by the royalty, it was a dream come true when she met historian M A Naeem. “He had published the book The Heritage of the Qutub Shahis of Golconda and Hyderabad and asked us — Prof. R Lakshmi Reddy and me — to write an article which highlights the royal past.” While Lakshmi presented a paper on the ritual art of Tantra (yantra, chakra, and mandala), Fatima researched on costumes.

Sultan Abul Hasan Tana Shah

Sultan Abul Hasan Tana Shah  


The research turned her into a zombie, jokes Fatima. “The time frame was from 1518 to 1687, a total of 169 years; It was a delight to see how their attire transformed over these years; what began as a plain garment eventually became exotic and rich,” she shares. She turned to miniature paintings — some from the Salar Jung museum — and books including Naeem’s book to get insights.

A farji (the sleeveless jacket or garment worn over a jama) was the the most accepted attire for the Qutb Shahis. “When one looks at the miniature paintings of the Moghals, one could identify the Qutb Shahis because of their farji; it became their style mark.”

The first king Sultan Quli’s dressing style was simple. “He wore a coat like a long gown, which had long-sleeved with cuff and buttoned up collar; he matched it with tailored pants. One could see the detailed cuff which was different,” she explains. The second Qutb Shah, Jamshid Quli wore a jama, which had gathered sleeves and a collar which was advanced.

With Ibrahim Quli, there was a steady change in fashion. “He was from the younger generation and started using prints and fur. One could see his printed pyjamas.” The exotic dressing began from Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah. “His dressing was exotic and it was fascinating to see the couture garment. The garment must have been starched and a certain technique used to get the flow,” she points out. “The narrow pyjamas became comfortable; the belt too was interesting and ornate.”

Ibrahim Qutb Shah

Ibrahim Qutb Shah  


A common feature among the kings was their patka or belt made of fabric. A single layer of patka became double-layered and finally an exotic patka made of four meters of cloth! “The dressing of Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah was rich. He wore an intricately woven patka, printed jama and one could see block prints on his fabrics.” The best, seemed to have been saved for the last king Abul Hasan Tana Shah. “His dressing was exotic and the ornate headgear had matching bands. The aesthetics were amazingly put together.” She notes the kings were particular about their style. “It is also mentioned in one of the books that a place called Jama Khana in Golconda was near the king’s house which was used to keep the stitched garments.”

Enriching experience

She shares that researching into the royal past was tough but a real pleasure. “It was an enriching experience. While the fashion students work on concepts, history and costumes, we as a faculty also need to be informed about different things.” She hopes to recreate the costumes and spread it internationally. “It has a lot of scope in terms of research to make it more practical and wearable.” Before signing off, she adds, “The most acknowledgeable apparel, the farji, of Persian origin, influenced by ethnic and cultural ties became their identification. It was such a ubiquitous style the Qutb Shahi rulers adapted and it represented their distinctive look. As time passed by, from one sultan to another, observations bear witness through paintings as to how the farji became the most graced garment, to depict and testify in expressing their ethnocentric dressing style of the sultans.”

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 1:13:27 AM |

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