Delhi Sultanate: Art, Education and Trade

In 1258 AD, Delhi became the most important cultural centre, when the Mongols destroyed the cultural centres of Central and Western Asia.
Created On: Nov 21, 2014 10:22 IST

The Sultanate of Delhi showed a blend of Hindu and Islamic style in art and trade.

Art during Delhi Sultanate

In 1258 AD, Delhi became the most important cultural centre, when the Mongols destroyed the cultural centers of Central and Western Asia. During 1296-1316 AD, the poetry of Khusrau, the historical works of Barani, and the table talk of Hazrat Nizam-ud-din Auliya are witnessing the cultural vitality. This period cannot be marked by the scholarship and study of sciences which demarcated Baghdad and Cordova. The reason is that the learned and talented men had come to India, but without their libraries. As a result, only those cultural activities achieved eminence like poetry, music, and others, which were not dependent on the collection of knowledge. Due to the lack of libraries, large educational institutions did not develop in India.

During Muslim rule in India, the official in-charge of religious grants, the sadr-i-jahan, organised for the grant of tax-free lands to the various religious groups who provided education in Islamic subjects. Two big colleges or madrasas, called Muizziya and Nasiriya, were built for advanced studies. Three main subjects were taught: tafsir (interpretation of the Quran), hadith (tradition), and figh (constitution).

In the Deccan, science subjects were in focus. Firuz, a Bahmani king, encouraged subjects such as Botany, Geometry, and Astronomy. Medical science also received attention. In 1329 AD, Zia Muhammad, has written a manuscript on medicine, Majmua-i-ziai, gives information for Arabian as well as Hindu medicines. Another book on medical knowledge, Tibb-i-Sikandari, authored by MianBhuwa in 1512 AD, was a standard textbook for followers of the internal medical systems.

Reza (also referred as Sangreza), the secretary of Iltutmish, was the first eminent Persian poet who was born in India. Amir Khusrau was the best writer of the early sultanate. Khusrau wrote poems relating to the ongoing events, like Qiran-us-Saadain, Miftah-ul-Futuh, Ashiqa, Khazain-ul-Futuh, and others.

Indian music had made an impact on the Arab systems, which resulted in the emergence in North India of a new kind of music. Sultan Husain is the original founder of the romantic school of music.

Trade during Delhi Sultanate

Hindus placed themselves in a prime position in foreign as well as domestic trade, even though foreign Muslim merchants also had taken a big share of it. Usually the imported goods consisted of certain luxury items for the elite classes, and horses and mules, which were scarce in India. Looking at the success of the Muslim horsemen, Hindus also started substituting horses for elephants.

The exported goods included food grains and textile. The agricultural products included wheat, rice, pulses, oilseeds, scents, sugars, etc. Cotton and other textiles were important items of export to Southeast Asia, East Africa, and Europe. The Arabs carried those textiles to Damascus and Alexandria via Red Sea, from where they were dispensed to the Mediterranean countries.

Some other industries emerged during this period, such as textile, metal work, indigo and paper. Muslims introduced some fine varieties of textiles, for which Bengal was the main centre. Numerous industries connected with metal work included manufacture of swords, guns, and other household items. Sugar manufacturing was done in Bengal on a large scale and was exported. Delhi was the centre for paper manufacturing, but on a small scale.

All these industries were privately owned, but still the government supported some large-scale factories. In the royal factories at Delhi, more than four thousand weavers for silk alone were employed.


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