A work of art, a piece of history

Crests and insignias collected by Mir Ali Sultan showcase Hyderabad’s story

His hobby is now a piece of history. When Mir Ali Sultan began cutting out crests/insignias/seals from letterheads as a child, he was pursuing a strange hobby.

Of royalty and nobility

Now, sitting in the silken yellow sofa of his second-floor apartment in Banjara Hills, the 81-year-old man flips through scrap books and pages of history. The insignias and crests belong to royalty, nobility and Samsthanams that thrived during the reign of Nizams Mir Mahbub Ali Pasha and Mir Osman Ali Khan.

Invested with elaborate designs and florid craftsmanship, the insignias are a work of art and at the same time reflect the era of gracious communication.

One of them is an invitation by Asman Jah Nawab Bashir Ud Dowlah to Captain Fateh Sultan requesting his company for a fancy dress and dancing ball at the Bashirbagh Palace.

Another is a letter by the Prime Minister Vicar ul Umra to Mir Futteh Sultan Sahib for lunch on a Saturday to witness the langar procession at his city palace.

The Bashirbagh Palace doesn’t exist any more and only the area name survives as a memory.

Parts of the city palace of Vicar ul Umra have been torn down and replaced with tenements and shanties.

The insignias also show the spread of nobility. There is crest with the name Rajia Rajman Rajah Sheoraj Dhanwant Bahadur Assuf Jahi, there is one belonging to Shapoorji Edulji Chenai and one belonging to ‘Thaig Jung Shams-ul-Oomrao, Amir-i-Kubir Khoorsheed Jah’.

Leaping lions, sparkling sun, clashing swords, angels with star and crescent, are all packed in the small embossed ensign of Khoorsheed Jah where a trace of the ensign survives at the Baradari in Shah Gunj area.

Period of 40 years

“I started collecting these when I was a small child and I collected them over a period of 40 years. By 1970, most of these crests and emblems disappeared as the other modes of communication replaced them,” says Mr. Sultan. Hailing from a Jagirdar’s family, he informs that the Sultan Bazaar is named after his grandfather Captain Mir Futteh Sultan. The Sultan Bazaar area has undergone multiple name changes beginning with Residency Bazaar, and later Hasmath Gunj (after the title given to British Resident James Achilles Kirkpatrick).

Some of these insignias still survive in the city at the Paigah Tombs Complex, Falaknuma Palace, Chowmahalla Palace and a few other locations. But in the scrapbook of Mir Ali Sultan, the colourful artistic crests/insignias/seals remain fresh as the day they were printed on paper.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 9:43:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/a-work-of-art-a-piece-of-history/article30814057.ece

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