The Early Modern Era in South Asia
By the end of the medieval era, Muslims had established numerous principalities across the Indian subcontinent—notably in the Punjab, Bengal, and the Indo-Gangetic plain, and in the southern plateau region known as the Deccan. Art of the Deccani Sultanates (1347–1686) is renowned for robust forms and designs, as seen here in the dish and incense burner. The rise of the Mughal dynasty (1526–1857) eventually brought most of India under the control of a single Muslim polity with a highly sophisticated court culture. During the seventeenth century, Mughal art developed a refined aesthetic, blending Persian, Indian, and European elements and techniques. It also sparked an artistic renaissance at Hindu courts in Rajasthan and the Punjab Hills.
In many ways, South Asia proved a remarkable arena for the growing internationalism of the early modern era. India had long been a focal point in overland and sea trade, and its strategic value increased significantly with the rise of the European trading companies in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.