Diwan Jhala Zalim Singh of Kotah

Diwan Jhala Zalim Singh (1730-1823) of Kotah

by Kotah court artist
circa 1790 CE

Gouache on paper
7.9 x 5.3 in. (20.1 x 14 cm.)

Back: “Sabih Raje Zalim Singhji ri”

He was the chief minister (musahib-e-ala, or the diwan) during the reign of Maharao Guman Singh and his successor Maharao Umed Singh of Kotah. Owing to his unparalleled bravery and diplomatic qualities, he almost ruled over the area and was considered as the most powerful man in Rajputana. He lost and regained the position of chief minister of Kotah after a brief stint in Mewar (during the reign of Maharana Ari Singh). He constructed his residence within the Kotah palace complex called Jhala ki Haveli.

He allied with British army and formed a treaty in 1817 which made Kotah the first kingdom to do so in Rajputana.

Along with his intrusion in politics and other aspects, he also made his appearance felt in artistic arenas and was portrayed in a number of paintings alongside the rulers. This particular portrait of his later life is remarkable for the fine line work, elaborate hookah and embroidered shawl which are also symbolic of his lavish lifestyle.