Portraits of African elites in India 500 years ago

Ikhlas Khan, Chief Minister of Bijapur, c1580s

Ikhlas Khan, Chief Minister of Bijapur, c1580s

I’ll be honest, this exhibit of portraits of African elites in India in the 15th and 16th centuries falls into the ‘who knew?’ category for me.  But it shouldn’t have: the Africans mostly came via the Arabian peninsula, with which India has long had extensive trade connections, and more generally the mixing of peoples we now call globalization goes back much, much further almost everywhere than most people imagine.

Organized by Dr. Sylviane Diouf of New York’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and Ken Robbins, co-editor of a book about African elites in India, and opening tomorrow (through 4 November 2014) at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts in Delhi, the exhibit is full of surprises.  Chief among them is that Africans ruled over significant parts of India, including Bengal, centuries ago.  You can see more portraits on Scroll.In or learn more of the historical context by watching the video below with Ken Robbins.



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