Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Raziya Sultan

Known as the first woman to rule India, Raziya was appointed by Muslim sultan Altamesh as his official successor instead of of his many sons who were all known to behave badly. However, after his death the nobility refused to honor his request and placed his eldest son on the throne in Delhi, who ruled for a disastrous six months before being removed from power and executed. Raziya was then given the throne that she had previously been denied.

Raziya proved to be a very capable leader both in political and military matters and winning the support of both the people and the army. Her downfall began when she begun an ill-received affair with an Assyrian slave, whom the nobles severely disapproved of. Raziya was soon overthrown and imprisoned by Altunia, the governor of Bhatinda who promptly had her lover put to death. So save her own life, Raziya agreed to marry Altunia.

In 1240 Raziya marched with her husband to reclaim power in Delhi, where Raziya's brother had been named Sultan. They were defeated on the battlefield and Raziya was put to death along with her husband*. It is widely speculated that the couple would have succeeded in their campaign had Altunia allowed Raziya to plot out the war strategy.

*Please note that information we found on Raziya Sultan's death was very sketchy in the details. Going off of execution methods that were popular in India at the time she died, it is likely that she was bludgeoned to death with clubs.


Raziya is a reworked vinyl doll that stands approx. 14" tall and is dressed in a suit of bright red dupioni silk with golden metal beads for buttons. Around her neck is a large beaded necklace with a floral cloisonné ball ornament, as although she was said to prefer to appear in men's clothing she still fancied jewels and wore them beneath her attire. Her long black hair has been left unbound and uncovered to suggest her further defiance against the traditional roles of a female.

The details of Raziya's execution are sketchy in history books, but it has been suggested that both she and her husband were bludgeoned to death. This doll has deep, bloodied gashes across the cheek and forehead to simulate such mortal blows. Her brown eyes are clouded over in a death stare, and her nose and lips have also been bloodied as a result of her ordeal.

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