The most extraordinary thing about the exhibition, “Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy”, that opens next month [April 20] at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (popularly known as “the Met”) is that it’s happening at all. As historians know well, the output of the five sultanates of the Deccan that flourished between the late 15th and the late 17th century, well before the princely state of Hyderabad came into being, was dazzling. The world’s earliest diamonds were mined in this region, of which the finest came to adorn European, Ottoman and Mughal royalty. Its prized painted and dyed textiles went westwards to Europe and eastwards to Southeast Asia. The Deccan courts attracted Persian painters, European traders, Portuguese doctors, Maratha warriors and military slaves from Ethiopia, who, unusually, came to enter the nobility.