Portrait of Malik Ambar (1605/1610) by unknownNational Museum - New Delhi
Malik Ambar, who went on to become the Prime Minister of Ahmadnagar, was born in 1549 at Harar in Ethiopia, and was sold as a slave in the market of Baghdad to Qaziu’l Quzat of Mecca and then to Changiz Khan, a nobleman who was the Prime Minister of Ahmadnagar.
Here Malik learned about governance. After Changiz’s death, Malik was released from slavery and joined the service of Abhang Khan, an Abyssinian noble. He raised an army of mercenaries and became recognized for his military acumen and was sought out by the ruler of Ahmadnagar.
Malik Ambar rose to such a position that when the Sultan of Ahmadnagar died, he was able to place his candidate Murtaza Nizam Shah on the throne in 1595 and then became the Prime Minister and Regent of the kingdom. He also married his daughter to Murtaza Shah.
Malik Ambar organized the Sultanate’s military system, recruited new soldiers, and trained them in guerilla tactics of fighting. He introduced the revenue reforms known as Malik Ambar Dhara, which became the basis of all future revenue system in Deccan.
He was known for his tact, farsightedness, administrative capacity, judgment, liberality, diplomatic skill and superb generalship. His death on 14th May, 1626, at ripe age of 80, ended an adventurous career.
In this rare portrait, Malik Ambar stands against a violet background.
He is wearing a striped turban and..
..white shawl, and a white straight-edged jama.
The white jama is paired with red flowered trousers, and saffron slippers.
His golden kamarband or patka has geometrical patterns edged with floral meander on the borders.
He is holding a sword, a dagger and a knife.
The green writing case, attached to the red belt, is also visible in this powerful portrait of Malik Ambar.
The painting is inscribed with the name of Malik Ambar in Persian and Devanagari characters.