Posted on: 14 February 2013

A howdah decorated with the fish of Oudh, lion and antelope - ca.1840
Lucknow, India

This furniture, like much of the furniture designed for the nawabs and kings of Oudh, was strongly influenced by the designs of Robert Home (1752-1834), who worked as a retained court-artist to Ghazi ud-Din Haidar (nawab 1814-1819; King 1819-1827) and Nasir ud-Din Haidar (1827-1837).

Copyright: © V&A Images

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The Fish was commonly used as a Emblem by most Shia Nawabs because Fish signified Good Luck as it had survived the Genesis flood

Speaking of fishes, the Mahi-Muratib was an insignia, denoted by the figure of a fish, that was awarded by the Mughals to their nobles for bravery or to acknowledge those with high military rank. They were also awarded to the most loyal of their vassals, the Kings of Rajputana, for example.

Not for vassal states but the standard was awarded for them to become independent. Independent like the fish.

Hi Kapil. Thanks for your comment. The Mahi-Muratib, for example, was awarded to the Maharaja of Jodhpur when the kingdom was subordinated to the Mughals. It was thus independent so long as it was loyal to Delhi. Do correct me if I'm wrong.

Thanks Kapil for letting me (us) know about the symbolism!!