Rinchana (r. 1320–1323) was the first Muslim king in the Kashmir Valley. He was a Ladakhi Buddhist prince but then converted to Islam after meeting with the Suhrawardiya Order of Sufis, a sect of Islamic mysticism. After the rule of Rinchana and his widow, there were three Sultanate dynasties in the Valley until the Mughals gained power and ruled from the sixteenth until the nineteenth century.

The dominance of Islam in Kashmir created a new artistic and architectural ferment. In addition to secular structures, mosques and tombs were built using brick and wood—materials that were, until this time, more common in West and Central Asia than in Kashmir. The artistic tastes of the courts inclined towards Persian traditions. Manuscript painters and textile artists accordingly adapted the foreign forms to fit local needs. Persian music, poetry, and calligraphy were also valued skills of the elite.

By the Mughal period (1526–1858), all signs of Buddhism had vanished and only small groups of Hindu priests maintained their faith and customs. Today, a large part of the population remains Muslim.


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