A Portrait of the Nobleman Himmat Yar Khan

By National Museum - New Delhi

Portrait of Amir Himmat Yar Khan (1775/1825) by unknownNational Museum - New Delhi

Himmat Yar Khan was an amir (a nobleman) in the service of Nizam Ali Khan (1761-1803) of the Asaf Jahi Dynasty. He was an avid connoisseur of paintings and manuscripts, through an album of drawings and specimens of calligraphy compiled for him in 1790 A.D, known as the Himmat Yar Album.

Himmat Yar Khan is seen here seated on a carpet, leaning against a bolster and smoking a bidriware huqqa. 

An attendant standing by with a flywhisk, and the sheathed sword by his side, are indications of Himmat Yar being from high-ranking nobility.

Within this picture of impersonal and dignified protocol, the presence of a little child playing with a rattle on the carpet is a charming diversion, and one that lends softness to the personality of Himmat Yar Khan.

In India, tobacco was first introduced in the Deccan by the Portuguese. There were many stories associated with the smoking of the huqqa; one of them speaks of the hakim, Abdul Fatah, who invented the huqqa, believing that the health hazards of tobacco smoke would be reduced by passing it through water before inhalation. 

Quickly adopted, the smoking of a huqqa became the hallmark of leisurely activity amongst the elite and those who could afford it.

For painters, depicting nobility smoking while seated on beautiful floorspreads became a means of portraying not just the subjects, but also a range of beautifully crafted objects used by this class.

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