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RANI RUPMATI (?-1570)


Rani Rupmati was queen of Mandavgarh or Mandu, and she was also a famed musician. She came to Mandu from Nimad, whose chief river, the Narmada, she worshipped as her tutelary deity. At Mandu she met Baz Bahadur of Malwa, also an accomplished musician, and their shared love of the arts drew them together. Between them they made Mandu into a centre of culture and music. Rupmati was as beautiful as she was intelligent, but she had little inclination to involve herself in the workings of the kingdom, preferring to give her time to poetry, music and dance.

She invented many new forms, of which the most famous is the khayal. Though she was well known for the Bhupkalyan Khayal, her favourite was the Baz Khan Khayal. Rupmati’s performances were totally her own creations; she would write the songs, set them to music and interpret them herself through dance. She was well versed in Hindi and Rajasthani as well as the local dialects of Malwa and Nimad; she wrote in all these languages. Though her songs were not collected in her lifetime, many are preserved in Ahmad-ul-Lemari’s collections. Mandu’s reputation as a centre of musical excellence did not survive its sacking by the armies of Akbar under Adam Khan in 1570; Rupmati committed suicide to avoid falling into the hands of the army.
 
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