This article situates the court of the Tungkhungia kings of Brahmaputra Valley (1680–1830), in present day Assam, in the space of courtly convergence and response in eighteenth-century South Asia. It studies a particular moment in the Tungkhungia royal court (1714–44) when a unique political arrangement (“two kings”) was expressed by courtiers, chroniclers, and poets in the language of a stylized fiction of love. The article tries to make meaning of the “two kings” problem by looking at a set of textual and visual materials and situates them within a context of “multilayered cultural semiotics” at work in borderland courts in eighteenth-century South Asia, loosely held within the crumbling edifice of Mughal Hindustan. Toward this end, the article uses its research findings to add fresh insights on the ongoing discussion on courtly culture in early eighteenth-century South Asia and highlights the importance of studying emotions towards understanding political practice.

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