Satavahana empire[200 B.C. - A.D. 250]

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Satavahana Empire Map smlThe Satavahana or Andhra empire was the next great empire after the Mauryan, and was established in the Deccan just as the Mauryan empire was coming to an end. It endured for 460 years in unbroken continuity and ran parallel, for a while to the Kushan Empire with which it struggled for almost a century. On the whole, it was a peaceful and economically prosperous period and trade and industry increased tremendously, especially with Rome. The Romans brought in a continuous flow of Roman gold, which helped to raise the level of economic life and changed the pattern of urban life a great deal.

Racially, the early people of the Deccan were hybrid race, a mixture of aboriginal Dravidians (or pre-Dravidians) and Scythians (Sakas), Parthians (pahlavas), and Greeks (Yavanas). Buddhism and Mauryan culture had built up a civilized structure even before the Satavahanas established their empire. In the third century AD the Satavahanas were ousted by the Ikshvakus, who were themselves from the Deccan.

The Royal Way of LifeFrom as early as the Mauryan-Sunga period there was six emblems to denote a royal personage. These were the ushnisa or turban, a pair of flywhisks, umbrella, sword, sandals, and the royal standard. Of these, the two most important and almost always used on all formal occasions were the umbrella and the flywhisks. The umbrella was white and gold for kings and nobles, and was carried by the chattradhara or umbrella carrier. The flywhsiks or Chauri were made of yak tails with gold handles, usually two, which were waved alternately by the chauri bearers. In addition to this a fan of palm leaves gaily chequered and made of bark, usira grass, or peacock feathers was waved by another attendant.

The sword or khadga, a symbol of power, was carried by a female attendant, the khadgavahini, on her shoulder. She normally stood close behind the king or prince. Thonged sandals originally of boarskin were the king’s prerogative. Both sword and sandals were said to rule the kingdom in the absence of the king.

Early Satavahana [200-100 B.C.]CostumeThe people of the Deccan were a hybrid race, a mixture of the aboriginal Dravidians and foreign invaders. In the first century BC their costumes too were an interesting mixture of foreign and indigenous garments. All these clothes are represented in Caves IX and X in Ajanta.

In the first Century BC we find tunics, Kancuka in the stripes or beehive design worn by attendants or hunters. The kancuka are of mid-thigh length with short or long sleeves; in some the opening is on the left side, and in others it is at the front. The tunic worn by a king in hunting dress has no discernible opening at the neck, so it is probably at the back. Necklines too differed in that some were V-shaped and others were round in shape. With the tunic a thick Kayabandh was wound once or twice around the waist. An elaborate turban ushnisa, intertwined with the long black hair of the aborigine wearers was also worn. In addition to these, hunters wore two-bar type sandals with a strap for buckling, which is still seen in the Deccan. As influences from the north and from foreign invaders percolated, the Dravidians aboriginal village women too changed their costume using short antariyas, large uttariyas with elaborate board borders covering the head and back, tikkas on the forehead and a series of conch or ivory bangles on the arms. Except for the skirt, they looked very much like the Lambadis who are a gypsy tribe of Deccan today.

In the royal court dress of the Mauryan-Sunga people the female attendant wore transparent long antariyas with loose kayabandhs tied in a knot at the centre having beautiful ornamental tips. Their many –stringed girdles or mekhala were made of beads. Shoulder-length hair held by fillets or top knots tied at the centre of the head seems to denote that these attendants were foreigners, although nothing in the garments worn seems foreign. The king and most of his courtiers wore indigenous antariya, short and informal at home, with the longer style worn in a variety of ways on ceremonial occasions. With this the decorative kayabandh was tied in different styles and knots. The kayabandh could be tied like a thick cord or be worn looped in a semi-circle at the front with conspicuous side tassels, or be made of thick twisted silk. The ushnisa was always worn and a crown or tiara was used when necessary.

Headgear and HairstylesThe aboriginal jungle women wore rolls and headbands with peacock feathers attached. Village women and commoners wore their hair in a simple knot at the nape covered by a large uttariya, which, at times, had elaborate broad borders. Court attendants and women of the richer classes wore their hair more fashionably, either in a topknot on the right side with a loop of flowers suspended or in a plait. A fillet, simple or gold embroidered could be worn to hold it in place.

Most often, the long hair of men was worn intertwined with lengths of cloth to form an ushnisa in a variety of ways. Frequently it had a knot - the original top knot of the aboriginal-covered with the cloth of the turban. This knot could be at centre front or protrude over the forehead in a conch-shell shape, or the tuft of hair could be visible on top of the turban.

Jewellery in this period had a massive primitive character in strong contrast to that worn in the later Satavahana period. When indigenous garments are shown on men, whether at court or in villages, all wear some form of jewellery. But when the foreign dress, the kancuka or tunic, is worn by hunters, attendants and soldiers, very little or no jewellery is seen. Most often it consists of just earrings of the wheel pattern type.

Indigenous jewellery however, consisted of Lambanam, earrings, and a pair of kangan and bajuband for the males. Women did not wear the baju band but wore a large number of bangles made of conch or ivory, disc-type earrings, the lambanam, and tikka on the forehead. Women attendants at court wore, in addition, the mekhala.

Military CostumeSoldiers wore short-sleeved tunics or jackets, with elaborate headgear consisting of either a turban with a topknot, chin band and earflaps or two topknots with a turban. They were equipped with axes, and bows and arrows, or carried sickles. Palace guards however wore the antariya with a heavy cloak draped over the left shoulder.

Late Satavahana [100 B.C - A.D. 250]CostumeClothing was generally spares and made of thin cotton. The three articles of clothing, the antariya, uttariya and kayabandh were widely used, but interesting mixtures of foreign and indigenous garments were fairly prevalent.

The uttariya for both men and women was usually white and of cotton or silk. It was however, at times, of beautiful colors and embroidered. Men could wear it across the back and over both shoulders are merely thrown over the chest, and they seldom wore it as a head covering. The antariya was still worn by both sexes in the kachcha fashion, which meant that one end was passed between the legs and tucked in behind, but this way of draping had its own fanciful fashions. For men it was normally to the knees or even shorter. Generally, the antariya appeared to have been made of almost transparent cloth and was worn very tight and clinging in the case of women. It is almost invisible in the early Andhra sculptures with only double incised lines to show the drape. The nivi bandha or preliminary knot to tie the antariya at the waist is often alluded to in the literature of ancient India.

The kayabandh tied in a bow-shaped knot was worn by both sexes to give further support to the uttariya at the waist. This item was worn in a variety of ways. The kayabandh in the form of a simple sash was called the vethaka. The women also wore the pattika, which was made of flat ribbon-shaped pieces of cloth, usually silk. A heavy-looking thick jewelled roll with hanging tassels-kakshyabandha-was worn by men. The kalabuka was a girdle made of many strips plaited together, and the muraja had drum-headed knots at the ends instead of tassels.

It is in the distinctive ways of wearing these three simple garments the antariya, uttariya and kayabandh and in the headgear and jewellery, that we can trace the evaluation of costumes and the fashion of the times in areas of India where they were in use. The true yajnopavita or sacred thread is found on the sculptures of this period. Before this, it existed more in the form of the uttariya worn draped over the left shoulder and under the right arm in the upavita fashion from which the term yajnopavita consisted of three cotton threads each of nine twisted strands, but of hemp for the kshatriya and of wool for the vaisya. At a later stage this sacred thread continued to be used in a limited way by other castes but was retained most strongly by the Brahmins.

A stitched skirt-like foreign garment called the kancuka was frequently used by attendants, grooms, guards and so on in the king’s court, and an indigenous long tunic was worn by eunuchs and other attendants in the women’s apartments in the palace. Women too wore the short kancuka with an indigenous antariya, or when calf-length it was worn with a kayabandh and uttariya, and in many other ways.

Headgear and HairstylesThe ushnisa of the men was generally wrapped around three or four times after covering the topknot of hair with one end. It was normally white but could also be of dyed cloth, and simple turbans were held in position by ornamental gold strips or pattabandha. Gold turbans were worn on special occasions. Kirta or crowns were also in use, of which one type was a short cylindrical cap studded with gems and ornamented with designs. The maulibandha was an elaborated turban wound with the hair which itself was decorated with strings of pearls or flowers wreaths. The turban normally covered the hair, which was arranged in a large topknot at centre front, and could have jewelled clasp or maulimani at the centre to hold in place the folds of the turban. This topknot could also be pear-shaped or elliptical to give it variety. Without the turban, the hair could be worn in one or two topknots, or one loop and one topknot. Short hair parted in the middle and reaching the neck was fairly prevalent, especially among the common people.

Women wore their hair in several ways. One was in the form of a plait, praveni, at the back, decorated with jewelled strips and tassels, as Bharat Natyam dancers do today. Another common style was the coil with five delicate plaits dangling from it, a favourite with all classes of women. In the kesapasa style the hair was looped close to the head in an elongated knot at the back of the head or lower downs at the nape. This could have veni, a small fillet of flowers, around it or a short garland of flowers dangling from it. If the hair was made in a simple knot it was known as kabaribandha. The dhammilia was elaborate dressing of the hair with flowers, pearls, and jewels that often completely covered the hair like a close cap or turban. This style was greatly admired in the Satavahana kingdom.

Women no longer wore the turban of earlier periods. Special ornaments were designed to be worn in the hair. The chudamani was lotus-shaped, its petals composed of pearls and precious stones. It was worn normally in the centre of the knotted hair. The makarika was shaped like fish-crocodile and worn at the front parting of the hair, very like gold ornament worn by the uriya women in the northern circars. There were also small crown like fillets through which the hair was drawn and then plaited or hung loose.

JewelleryStrands of pearls were the main motif in all forms of jewellery particularly in the late period of the Satavahana empire. Both men and women wore earring, bracelets, armlets and necklaces as in previous periods, particularly the indigenous people. The more common design in earring was the kundala shaped like a coil, which could be simple or decorative. The talapatra originated from a small strip of palm leaf rolled and inserted into the lobe. This shape was later made from ivory or gold and could be gem-studded. A full-blown lotus design the kanaka- kamala set in rubies is still popular in South India, and a couple of generations ago the karnika or jimiki continued to be in use. This was in the shape of lotus seed-pod fixed upside down like a tassel. Necklaces or hara were mainly strung with pearls, sometimes consisting of only a single string called ekavali. A necklace of gems and gold beads was called yashti, the central bead being often larger than the others. Several of these necklaces could be worn together. Sometimes three or five slab-like gems, phalaka, were inserted at regular intervals. These held together the several strings of which a necklace was composed, and whole was called a phalakahara.

A simple perfumed cotton-thread necklace was known to have been in use, and tiger claws were strung around the necks of children probably to ward off the evil eye. The yajnopavita, or a sacred thread made of pearls called the muktayajnopavita, were prevalent. Kantha, the shorter form of necklace, continued to be in use and was often of gold set with rubies and emeralds. Also, the gold - coins necklace nishka strung on silk thread or plaited gold cord was worn in almost the same design as the modern putalya of Maharashtra and the malai of Tamil Nadu. These gold coins were sometimes replaced by mango-shaped pieces of gold or gold set with gems, like the contemporary mangamalai of South India. Men and women wore bracelets valaya of solid gold set with precious stones. The more delicate ones were made of filigree, and elegant rope-shaped ones of fine gold wire were worn generally by women. They also used bangles of ivory and rhinoceros horn. Slab-like gems when set into bracelets, like the phalakahara necklace, were called phalakavalaya.

Armlets or keyura for both sexes were close-fitting and could be engraved or set with jewels, or be in the shape of a snake; also they could be straight-edged or have an angular top edge. Jewelled girdles of one or many strings, mekhala, were worn only by women. These were made in several varieties from the tinkling kanci with bells to the rasana style made of a linked chain or strung with pearls, beads or precious stones. These girdles, besides being very attractive, held up the lower garment or antariya. In addition, cloth girdles or kayabandh like those of the men described earlier in this chapter, were also used for the same purpose.

Anklets, worn again only by women, had an astonishing variety. The manjira was hollow and light, coiling several times around the ankles loosely, and tinkling when in motion as it had gems inserted in the hollow. This type is still worn in Manwar. The nupura was plain while the kinkini had small bells suspended. A heavier looking one was the tulakotiI whose two ends were enlarged at their meeting point. This form is still worn in Andhra. Tinkling anklets of any kind were not worn by the wife in the absence of her husband. The finger ring or anguliyaka is visible on some of the Satavahana sculptures but only after A.D.150

The hemavaikasha was an ornament worn by women, seen more frequently in the Kushan period. It consisted of two long wreaths of flowers of pearls crossed at the breasts.

Military CostumeAndhra soldiers wore an antariya which was shortened by lifting it at the hemline and tucking it into the waist to facilitate marching, and the style is still used in Tamil Nadu. A cloth sash or kayabandh was wound tightly many times around the waist for support and was sometimes crossed at the chest for protection. This developed in later times into the Channavira, which was similar in function to the early Babylonian and Assyrian sword belts crossed at the chest with a metal buckle in the centre. In addition, the military personnel of this period occasionally wore earring and simple jewellery.

Saka foreign soldiers were employed by some of the Andhra kings in the royal bodyguard. They wore a heavy tunic with ruched sleeves which reached to the knees or mid-thigh. With it was worn a form of churidar or ruched trousers, and their helmet or sirastra had earflaps. A wide sash was worn at the waist. Sometimes a short quilted tunic was worn with a heavy drape over the left shoulder along with a turban-a mixture of the foreign and indigenous garment. Footwear was not incumbent for soldiers and was probably worn by foreign rather than indigenous troops.

The equipment of a trained fighter was mainly his sword, shield, bow, axe and spear; sometimes the mace, club, and javelin were used. Swords were either curved or straight and could have sharp edge on one or both sides. There were 30 inches long and beautiful crafted. Handles of Ivory or horn and hilts of precious metals encrusted with jewels were carried by those in command, and simpler ones of bamboo or wood were used by the common soldier. These swords in their sheaths, kosha, of fine-tooled leather were normally fastened on the left side of the waist. Smaller and more ornamental swords and draggers were fastened by gold chains.

Shields, mainly rectangular in shape, were purely functional and large enough to protect the body. The club or gada could be short or long but was immensely heavy and was used for striking the enemy forcefully. The bow or dhanush made of wood or horn was painted red and gaily decorated, but the bamboo bow was more common. The bowstring was made of sinew or hemp. The heads of arrows were of iron, bone, and wood and were carved into animal and other shapes, and had shafts of feathers affixed with sinews. Sometimes the arrow tips were dipped in poison.

Religious PersonsThe Buddhist monks were now in a very powerful position and had more or less abjured their vow of poverty. Their clothes now retained a semblance of patchwork but were composed of rich pieces of cloth of same color, symmetrically arranged together in checks, and most probably presented to the Buddhist order by rich donors, as referred to in the jatakas.

Hindu ascetics continued to wear their bark strip garments valkala with a deerskin over the left shoulder in the style know as ajinayajnopavita. Their hair was tied in a heavy bundled topknot of matted locks called jata-bhara and sometimes the hair was worn in small plaits. The priests were Brahmins who wore white garments but added a red turban when officiating at ceremonial functions.

Jain monks and nuns have retained their white robes to this day and all their beliefs and customs have remained unchanged because of their strong conservatism.

Textiles and DyesFrom Mauryan times and even earlier, the manufacture of textile in India had flourished and there are constant references to its variety in Brahmanical, Buddhist and Jain works. Coarse and fine varieties of cotton were in great demand. Silk formed an important part of rich person’s wardrobe. A very cheap material made of hemp was worn by the weavers and by labourers of all kinds. Wool was not need much in the part of India ruled by Satavahanas, which had a warm climate, but it was used in the form of chaddars or blankets in winter.

There was a variety of Dyes available from Vedic times, indigo, yellow, crimson, magenta, black and turmeric. Since washermen were also dyers, these colors were known to them and the knowledge of the dyeing processes was probably handed down to each successive generation. Varieties and mixtures of colors known to those countries with which the Satavahanas did a great deal of trade, like China, Persia and Rome, must also have been incorporated to extend their range of colored textiles.

Printed and woven designs on textile were plentiful and embroidery in gold was also common among the richer classes. The uttariya, in particular, was very often of silk and embroidered with flowers all over, or had a pattern of birds along with flowers. Precious stones were often used in the borders of these uttariyas or they were dyed blue or red, but a spotless white remained the favourite with men.

StyleThe late Satavahanas style expressed more directly the full impact of the Dravidians-Andhra ethos. With the crowded compositions of lean and strong bodies and the ferocious figures looming over terrified crowds, we feel a sense of frenzied activity and turbulence. The kayabandhs make complex arabesques, but there is less differentiation between the court and the people as they throng together.
List of kings in Satavahana empire
  • Simuka or Sisuka (r. 230-207 BCE). Also (271-248 BCE), ruled 23 years kotilingala,karim nagar district,A.P
  • Krishna (r. 207-189 BCE), ruled 18 years.
  • Sri Mallakarni (or Sri Satakarni), ruled 10 years.
  • Purnotsanga, ruled 18 years
  • Skandhastambhi, ruled 18 years
  • Sātakarnī I (195 BCE), ruled 56 years
  • Lambodara, ruled 18 years.(r. 87-67 BCE)
Probably as vassals of Kanva dynasty (75-35 BCE):

Vijayanagara Empire (1336-1646)

As a kid I heard so many stories about Sri Krishna Devaraya, I always like two kings in Indian History one Great Ashoka from Maurya empire and Krishna Devaraya. I like to gather some information about Sri Krishna Devaraya on the occasion of 500th coronation anniversary. I respect Sri Krishna Devaraya allot because my mother tongue Telugu literature was developed allot because of his interest towards literature and culture. He appointed telugu poets in his court called Astadiggajalu, they converted Mahabharatam in to telugu and wrote lot of stories in telugu, they still considered one of the great writers of telugu literature.
The Government of Andhra Pradesh is celebrating the 500th coronation anniversary (Pattabhisheka Varshikotsavam) of Sri Krishna Devaraya, the famous King of Vijayanagara empire. His reign (July 26, 1509-1529) was known as Golden Era in the first Hindu Kingdom of South India. Sri Krishna Devaraya, was born in Hampi (now in Karnataka), belonged to Tuluva dynasty.[1]
The Vijayanagara Empire ( referred as the Kingdom of Bisnaga by the Portuguese, was a South Indian empire based in the Deccan Plateau. Established in 1336 by Harihara I his brother Bukka Raya I, it lasted until 1646 although its power declined after a major military defeat in 1565 by the Deccan Sultanates.

Origin of Vijayanagar and its Foundation

Vijayanagar was a South Indian Hindu empire, founded in 1336 by Harihara I. Harihara was Bhavana Sangama’s eldest son, they are  from  Mysore (now Karnataka), and was founder of the Sangama dynasty, the first of four Dynasties to rule the empire. The original Capital was in the principality of Anegondi on the northern banks of the Tungabhadra River. It was later moved to nearby Vijayanagara on the river's southern banks during the reign of Bukka Raya I, after which the empire was named. Harihara's first exploit was to take control of the northern part of the Kingdom of Hoysala, securing its entire range after the death of their king, Veera Ballala III, in 1343. By 1346, and inscription indicates Harihara I as "Purvapaschima Samudradhishavara": "The ruler of the Eastern and Western seas" showing the true establishment of the city as an empire.

The Rise of the Empire

Hoysala was on a frontier, a border between the old Hindu India and the invading Muslims from the north. By 1336 most of the small Hindu Kingdoms in the South had been defeated by Delhi Sultans. After the death of Hoysala Veera Ballala III the Hoysala empire merged with the growing Vijayanagar empire, which formed a solid wall against the Northern warlike Sultanates.
The reign of Bukka Raya
By 1374 Bukka Raya I, successor to Harihara I, had defeated the Chiefdom of Arcot, the Sultan of Madurai and gained control over Goa in the west and the Tungabhadra-Krishna River doab in the north.
The reign of Harihara II
Harihara II, the second son of Bukka Raya I, expanded the empire beyond the Krishna River and brought the whole of South India under the control of Vijayanagara. Gajabetekara (or Deva Raya II) succeeded to the throne in 1424. He quelled rebelling feudal lords as well as the Zamorin of Calicut and Quilon in the south. He invaded the island of Lanka and defeated the leaders of Pegu and Tanesserim in Myanmar, bringing the empire nearly to its fullest extent.

The Tuluva Dynasty

In the late 15th century, after nearly two decades of conflict with rebellious chieftains, the empire had declined slightly. Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya in 1485 and general Tuluva Narasa Nayaka in 1491 managed to reconsolidate it somewhat, and started the second rise to power of the empire. The coming to power of Tuluva Narasa Nayaka in 1491 marked the start of the Tuluva Dynasty. In the following decades the Vijayanagar empire dominated all of Southern India and fought off invasions from the five Deccan Sultanates in the north. The empire reached its peak during the rule of Krishna Deva Raya when the armies of the empire were nigh unstoppable. Krishna Deva Raya annexed areas formerly under the control of the Sultanates in the northern Deccan and the territories in the eastern Deccan. He also built and commisioned many of the architecture that Vijayanagara is remembered for, and was one of the empire's greatest leaders, governing his subjects well, albeit harshly if they broke his laws. He was followed by Achyuta Raya in 1530 and then the final Tuluva, Sadasiva Raya, in 1541. Both of these were considered fairly weak rulers, and their reigns were the start of the final period of decline that eventually led to the downfall of the empire.

The Destruction of the Empire

The Battle of Talikota was the major factor in the destruction of Vijayanagara. A very rare alliance of the usually sqabbling Deccan sultanates led to a crushing defeat, in which Vijayanagar was completely routed. The Sultanates' army later plundered Vijayanagara and reduced it to the ruinous state in which it remains to this day (as shown in the picture below). Tirumala Raya, the sole surviving commander, left Vijayanagara for Penukonda with vast amounts of treasure on the back of 550 elephants.

The empire went into a slow decline after this, although trade with the Portuguese and British continued. In 1617 Ramadeva took power and ruled till 1632, after whose death Venkata III became king and ruled for about ten years, making the city of Vellore what would be the final capital. The empire was finally conquered by the Sultanates of Bijapur and Golkonda.

The Aftermath

The successors of Vijayanagar were the Mysore Kingdom, Keladi Nayaka, the Nayaks of Madurai, the Nayaks of Tanjore, the Nayakas of Chitradurga and the Nayak Kingdom of Gingee all of whom declared independence and went on to have a significant impact on the history of South India. The Nayaka kingdoms lasted into the 18th century before succumbing to the British, while the Mysore Kingdom remained a princely state until Indian Independence in 1947.

Vijayanagar Rulers

Sangama Dynasty Harihara Raya I 1336-1356
Bukka Raya I 1356-1377
Harihara Raya II 1377-1404
Virupaksha Raya 1404-1405
Bukka Raya II 1405-1406
Deva Raya I 1406-1422
Ramachandra Raya 1422
Vira Vijaya Bukka Raya 1422-1424
Deva Raya II 1424-1446
Mallikarjuna Raya 1446-1465
Virupaksha Raya II 1465-1485
Praudha Raya 1485
Saluva Dynasty
Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya 1485-1491
Thimma Bhupala 1491
Narasimha Raya II 1491-1505
Tuluva DynastyTuluva Narasa Nayaka 1491-1503
Viranarasimha Raya 1503-1509
Krishna Deva Raya 1509-1529
Achyuta Deva Raya 1529-1542
Sadashiva Raya 1542-1570
Aravidu Dynasty
Aliya Rama Raya 1542-1565
Tirumala Deva Raya 1565-1572
Sriranga I 1572-1586
Venkata II 1586-1614
Sriranga II 1614-1614
Ramadeva 1617-1632
Venkata III 1632-1642
Sriranga III 1642-1646
2. By Copperknickers, June 2008; Revised