cultural activists who enabled sultans to overshadow others. Chisti
        influence was more than spiritual, because Chisti followers had
        serious clout. For example, in 1400, Chisti leaders (sheikhs) in Bengal
        objected to the local sultan’s patronising of brahmins and his allowing
        non-Muslims to hold high office. Their strategy seems to have
        worked, because the Bengal sultan increased patronage for the local
        Chistis, though he did not change his pattern of multi-cultural
   • The sultan’s body, speech, piety, personal habits, hobbies, family,
        household, ancestors, wives, sons and in-laws formed the inner core
        of his public identity; they appeared in public gossip, art, lore, song
        and chronicle.
   • A daily dramatisation of the sultan’s public self occurred in his court,
        at his public darbar, where he received guests, ambassadors,
        supplicants, allies and payers of taxes and tribute.
Development of the Darbar The institution of the darbar evolved over
time. Its early central Asian home was a regal tent on the battlefield; in later
centuries, it acquired architectural grandeur, as at the Tughluqabad fort-
complex and later, the Mughal fort-cities in Fatehpur Sikri, Agra and Delhi,
whose darbar halls are massive stages for the emperor’s performance of
power. Many darbars incorporated Hindu and Muslim traditions of display
and drama.
   • The darbar became a place for dramatising in public, all the personal
        identities that were being defined in relation to sultans. To dramatise
        all the various personalities of power that comprised his domain, a
        sultan took his darbar wherever he went. A darbar spent considerable
        time on the move, especially in battle. The ruler’s travelling court
        became an enduring cultural phenomenon.
   • A sultan’s retinue, regalia, and family symbolised his greatness.
        Sultans were sticklers for public etiquette and sumptuary protocol,
        lest subordinates exceed their station. The sultan had to have the
        biggest, richest, most elaborate, extravagant, valuable things visible
        on his person, to dramatise his ascendancy constantly.
   • Vijayanagar Rayas styled themselves “Lords of the Eastern and
        Western Oceans” by adorning       their bodies with precious commodities