Malaqabai Chanda's face is unmistakable - we easily recognize her from portraits like the Twentieth Century example in the Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad. She was a poetess who composed verse in Persian and Urdu and was the first female sahib-i-diwan - a collected poet. She is being revered in our painting - metaphorically as a goddess - for her intellect, talent and accomplishments.
Rai Venkatchellam, the most acclaimed painting master from the court of Nizam Ali Khan (1734-1803) of Hyderabad, had also painted Chandabibi (in human form) riding a palanquin, in a depiction of a hunting expedition of Nizam II. Other paintings by Rai Venkatchellam are in the San Diego Museum of Art (accession nos. 1990.560 and 1990.559 "Mahlaqa Bhai with a Lover"), the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the David Collection (inv. no. 14/2015) which depicts an arched domed and columned structure very much like the magnificent overarching canopy in our present painting.
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