An in-depth study of south Indian palaces, their contents and their surroundings requires consideration of indigenous, pre-colonial perceptions of courtly material culture. Simply describing the surroundings of south Indian kings does not help to elucidate how these surroundings functioned. The unique tool of an art historian when looking at any group of buildings or objects is stylistic analysis. However, a straightforward comparative description of objects can lose sight of the broader context they existed within; when looking at objects in the world, one must ask how the world was perceived by the people who created, used and gazed upon the material culture of south Indian kingship.