In 1799, the East India Company’s army killed Tipu Sultan. To ensure the end of his dynasty, the women of his court were exiled from his Mysore Kingdom to a fort at Vellore, in the Madras presidency. Roshani Begum, a dancer in Tipu’s court, was one of the hundreds of women that the Company placed under house arrest.

Originally named Pum Kusur, she was a dancer from present-day Andhra Pradesh’s Adoni, who, along with her sister, joined Tipu’s entourage when he was still a prince. Roshani Begum was the mother of Tipu’s eldest son, Fateh Haidar, making her a high-status woman at court. Her son’s portrait, painted in 1801, shows a young man in his 20s, suggesting that Roshani Begum joined Tipu’s entourage in the 1770s.

In 1802, along with about 550 other women, Roshani Begum was transported from the Mysore Kingdom to Vellore Fort and remained under the East India Company’s custody for the rest of her life. In spite of suddenly becoming the charge of a foreign trading company, she continued in her vocation.

In 1804 she adopted a girl named Goozeib, whom she trained in her dance traditions. There were other newcomers inside Vellore Fort, with the population of Tipu’s…

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