This unusual huqqa base is inlaid with narrative scenes from the Padmavat, a Sufi epic written in Hindi by the poet Malik Mohammad Jayasi in the 16th Century.
The Padmavat fictionalizes the historic siege of Chittor, turning it into a mystical tale about spiritual love and physical lust. In it, Padmavati, the daughter of Raja Gandharvasen of Sinhal island (Ceylon), is married to Ratan Sen, the king of Chittor (Rajasthan). Hearing of Padmavati’s beauty, Alauddin Khilji is seized with lust and attacks Chittor. The characters in the epic become metaphors for spiritual development and worldly desires.
The Padmavat was a popular text and there are illustrated manuscripts of this epic. However, this huqqa base is a unique instance of the Padmavat depicted in bidri work, using the taihnishan technique of ornamentation. Figurative bases such as this one are extremely rare. Eleven episodes from the Padmavat have been depicted here through narrative scenes showing figures of human, birds, beasts and fishes in various moods and poses within conventional landscapes and stylized structures.
The shoulder band of this huqqa base is also artistically decked with charming figures of animals such as elephants, jackals, stags, lions, and of birds such as parrot, goose, cuckoo as well as reptiles such as snake and fish. Its neck has one moulding projection.
The figures on this huqqa base are dressed in costumes similar to the ones depicted in the miniature paintings of the late 17th and/or early 18th century, and can thus be ascribed to a similar date.