This historical manuscript, which recounts the life and times of Asaf Jah II of the Nizam Shahi dynasty of Hyderabad, is a unique Deccani manuscript of great historical importance. It is authored by Tajalli Ali Shah, a great polymath who was a scholar of Arabic and Persian, historian, calligrapher, poet and excellent artist of Hyderabad.
Through its 78 paintings, the manuscript presents a pictorial biography of Asaf Jah II of Nizam Shahi dynasty of the Deccan. It throws light on the socio- economic, cultural and political aspects of his reign. The eye-catching manuscript gives an insightful account of the Nizam’s relations with the Marathas, the French, the British besides Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan of Mysore.
It is an important and authentic source for the history of the Nizam by an eyewitness who participated in several campaigns against the Marathas, the French, the British, and Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan, who were at
loggerheads with the Nizams.
The life and times of the Deccan in the 18th c. may be gleaned from paintings which depict the Nizam’s darbars, costumes, ornaments, jewellery, wedding processions, the armies and arms and armour of the Nizams, and their battles with the Marathas, the French, the British, Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan.
Another noteworthy feature of this manuscript is its unique depiction on p. 163 of the walled city of Hyderabad as it was in c. 1768. One can see the darbar of Nizam Ali Khan in the Char Mahal Palace in the central panel in which the Nizam is giving audience to the French envoy M. Bussy. Around the palace is shown the entire walled city of Hyderabad with palaces, houses, mosques, Char Minar, Mecca Masjid, gates roads etc. Beyond the city walls one can see the bridge across the river Musli leading to the Golconda Fort.
The National Museum’s manuscript is the only illustrated copy of Tuzuk-i-Asafiya that is known. While its text is incomplete it seems to have been the master copy presented to the Nizam, with calligraphy and painting by Tajalli Ali Shah. Although the manuscript does not have any colophon, it bears three seals, one unfortunately undecipherable, and the other two belonging to the same person, “Muazzam Jung Bahadur” but bearing two different dates.