Malik Ambar

Malik Ambar(1546-1626) was an Ethiopian slave taken from Ethiopia and transfered via the Middle East to India'ś Deccan region to assume the highest level of power. Utilizing guerrilla warfare he was able to thwart Moghul advance into the Deccan and solidify his power.


Malik Ambar was born in the Ethiopian province of Harar with the given name of Chapu or Shambu in the following years 1546 , 1548, or 1550. He was taken across the Red Sea to the port of Mocha in present day Yemen. He ended up in Baghdad where he received an education.

Ambar was later sold to Chengiz Khan in India. Chengiz Khan was an Ethiopian like Ambar, who occuppied the post of Regent Minister of the Sultan of Nizam Shahi in Ahmadnagar. Ambar slowly began taking on more responsibility. In 1594, he was freed, after which he commanded a cavalry of 154 men. He steadily built an army to combat Moghul expansion. By 1600, he became the supreme figure against Moghul expansion into the Deccan and southern India.

When he died in 1626 at about 80, he had an army of 50,000 (40,000 marathas--Hindus, 10,000 habshis--Ethiopians).


Ambar accomplished many things in his lifetime. One being the founder of the city of Aurangabad. He built many palaces, developed an irrigation system, was a big patron of Hindu and Muslim artist and craftsman. He was a patron of the great Indian portrait painter Hashim.  He also developed the guerilla warfare the Marathas(Hindu) warriors came to be known for. Ambar also made contacts with other kingdoms in the Indian sub-continent ruled by Africans like Janjira. He married his daughters and sons into elite Indian societies, integrating africans into south Indian power structure.

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tags:  afro indian , india , dougla , afro asian