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  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    1598 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with Art Fund support

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This page is from a manuscript of the Razmnama, or Book of War, copied in the late 16th century at the Mughal court. It was the Persian translation commissioned by the emperor Akbar of the Sanskrit epic text, the Mahabharata. Here, the sage Vyasa accompanied by three disciples in his hermitage, observes his son, Shuka, approaching them through the air like a ball of fire.The painting was purchased for the museum from the executors of the late J. C. French with the assistance of the National Art Collections Fund in 1955.

Physical description

Razm-nama manuscript page, paper, with painting on one side and inscription on the other.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)


1598 (made)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

'Banwari Khurd'
'Banwari the Younger'
This is an ascription, not a signature, but is probably contemporary with the assembly of the manuscript from which this page has been detached.


Height: 19.7 cm picture only, Width: 10.5 cm picture only, Width: 11.07 cm picture only, Height: 31.6 cm folio, Width: 17.4 cm folio

Object history note

This page numbered 591 is from the manuscript of the Razmnama sold at Sotheby's, London, on 25 October 1921 (lot 251). According to the catalogue of The Art of India and Pakistan (ed. Sir Leigh Ashton), London 1950, p. 147, '125 miniatures were sold separately and 24 with the rest of the manuscript.' The section dated 1007/1598 is now in the British Museum (see G. Meredith-Owens and R. Pinder-Wilson, "A Persian Translation of the Mahabharata", British Museum Quarterly, vol. 20, no. 3, London 1956, pp. 62-65, pl. 19, 20.
Other pages in the V&A are IS.457-1950, IS.459-1950, Circ. 242-1922, Circ.244-1922.

Descriptive line

Painting with inscription on verso, on paper, Mughal, 1598

Labels and date

Illustration to the Razmnama
Opaque watercolour and gold on paper
Mughal, by Banwari
the Younger

Purchased with the assistance of
the Art Fund
The Razmnama, or ‘Book of War’, is the Persian version of the Mahabharata. Akbar commissioned the translation so that everyone at court could read this major text of Hinduism. In this way, he hoped to promote understanding between the followers of different religions within the empire. The translation was finished by 1587. This page comes from a slightly later, dated manuscript which had at least 200 paintings before it was broken up and sold on the London art market in 1921. [27/9/2013]





Subjects depicted

Hermitage; Disciples


Paintings; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project


South & South East Asia Collection

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