Mughal Art (1526-1857)

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Arghan Div
The Khamsa
Jahangir in Durbar

Shah Jahan and son
Jade wine cup
Krishna playing flute

Mughal painting is a particular style of South Asian, particularly North Indian (more specifically, modern day India and Pakistan).

This was painting mostly of miniatures either as book illustrations or as single works to be kept in albums (muraqqa). It derived from Persian miniature painting (itself partly of Chinese origin) and developed in the court of the Mughal Empire of the 16th to 18th centuries.

The Mughal emperors were Muslims and they are credited with consolidating Islam in South Asia, and spreading Muslim (and particularly Persian) arts and culture as well as the faith.

[Source: Wikimedia commons]


The Mughal emperor Akbar ordered his artists to prepare an illustrated copy of the Hamzanama on a scale never seen before: 1,400 paintings on sheets of paper backed with cloth. It took fifteen years to complete. Four of the folios are held by the Brooklyn Museum.

This painting depicts the demon Arghan bringing a casket of arms to Hamza. Emerging from the water to find on the shore is Hamza, seated on a throne beneath a bright canopy held up by two poles and ropes.

Image source:

Image source: Wikimedia commons

The illuminated manuscript Khamsa of Nizami is a lavishly illustrated manuscript of the Khamsa or “five poems” of Nizami Ganjavi, a 12th-century Persian poet. It was created for the Mughal Emperor Akbar in the early 1590s by a number of artists and a single scribe working probably in Akbar’s new capital of Lahore (in today’s Pakistan).
The Hamzanama narrates the legendary exploits of Amir Hamza, or Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib, an uncle of Muhammad. Most of the stories are extremely fanciful,
Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: Wikimedia commons

Abul Hasan and Manohar, with Jahangir in Darbar, from the Tuzk-e-Jahangiri, also known as Jahangirnama, c.1620. It is gouache on paper.
The Emperor Shah Jahan with his Son Dara Shikoh: This c1620 superbly painted image framed by a splendid border shows the future emperor Shah Jahan admiring jewels with his favorite son. Holding a tray of emeralds and rubies, the father contemplates a ruby in his right hand, while the child grasps a peacock fan and a turban ornament. The sumptuousness of court life is conveyed in the detailed depiction of the jewels, the gilded furniture, the textiles, and, most spectacularly, the large bolster with its designs of figures and plants.
(Source: metmuseum.org)

Image source: metmuseum.org

Image source: collections.vam.ac.uk

White nephrite jade wine cup, made in Shah Jahan’s court workshops at Agra or Delhi, dated 1067, regnal year 31, ie 1657. It is on show at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London UK/
Krishna playing flute with gopis, c1790—1800, Guler/Kangra region. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper. It is on show at the Smithsonian Institute

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