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  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in watercolour on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This illustration had been removed from a manuscript of the Baburnama ('Book of Babur') before the museum acquired it in on the London art market in 1913. The manuscript was a copy of the Persian translation of the memoirs of Babur (r. 1526-1530), the founder of the Mughal empire. He wrote in his primary language, eastern Turkish, and the translation was commissioned by his grandson, the Mughal emperor Akbar, so that the contents could be widely read in the empire. The translator, Mirza Abdu'r Rahim, was the Khan-i khanan or Prime Minister, and completed his work in AH 998/AD1589. He presented it to Akbar on the emperor's return to Agra from Kabul on 24 November 1589. Multiple copies of his text were made. The illustrated volume to which this painting originally belonged is regarded as having been done in Akbar's painting atelier, the Ketab khana or 'House of Books'. At least seven illustrated copies of the Baburnama have survived, datable to between 1589 and the end of Akbar's life in 1605. This page depicts the reunion of Babar with his sister, Khanzada Begum, at Kunduz in 1511 after her release from captivity by their Iranian enemies. The painting was probably done in about 1590.

Physical description

A begum attended by ladies receives a prince in her encampment outside a citadel. The red canopy above them has a border of lozenges in white, orange, green and black; the encircling screen is washed with red and its entrance is guarded by a man with a white turban. Various figures gesture in front of the gate to the citadel, while others gather in a line in the foreground, with two horses. Two lines of text are in a panel above the begum, and two more lines are in a panel floating against the screen below.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)


ca. 1590 (painted)



Materials and Techniques

Painted in watercolour on paper


Height: 25.4 cm Painting only, Width: 14 cm Painting only, Height: 26.5 cm Page, Width: 15.8 cm Page (approx.)

Object history note

The page has been removed from a volume of the Baburnama, the memoirs of Babur which were translated from Turki into Persian for Akbar by Mirza Abdu'r Rahim Khan-i khanan. The Prime Minister completed his work in AH 998/AD1589 and presented it to Akbar on the emperor's return to Agra from Kabul on 24 November 1589. The illustrated volume to which this painting originally belonged is regarded as having been done in Akbar's painting atelier, the Ketab khana or 'House of Books'.
S.A.A Rizvi, in Religious and Intellectual History of the Muslims in Akbar's Reign (Delhi, 1975, 220-221), notes:
The Babur Nama, in Chaghta'i Turkish, a mine of information relating to Central Asia, Kabul and India, was of an absorbing interest for the Indian Timurids. The portions relating to the Indian period of Babur's autobiography had already been translated by his sadr, Zainu'd Din Khwafi, into Persian. In 994/1584 Mirza Payandah Hasan Ghaznavi commenced its translation at the insistence of Bihruz Khan (who was afterwards given the title of Naurang Khan by Akbar and died as a governor of Junahgarh in 1002/1593-94), but he could not translate the account beyond the first sixth and a part of the seventh year. Subsequently one Muhammad Quli Mughal HIsari continued the work and brought it down to 935/1528-29. Akbar ordered Mirza 'Abdu'r Rahim Khan-i Khanan to translate it again and he completed the work in 998/1589. He presented his translation to the Emperor as he was returning from Kabul on 24 November 1589. The Khan-i Khanan excelled all the previous translators.

Descriptive line

Painting from the Baburnama, ladies of the court in an encampment outside a citadel, watercolour on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590

Labels and date

Opaque watercolour and gold on paper
Illustration to the Baburnama, or ‘Book of Babur’
c. 1590

Babur founded the Mughal dynasty in 1526. He wrote his memoirs, the ‘Book of Babur’, in his primary language, Eastern Turkish. By the late 16th century few people at the Mughal court knew Turkish, so Babur’s grandson Akbar commissioned a translation into Persian which was finished in 1589. This painting probably comes from a presentation volume for Akbar. It shows Babur meeting Khanzada Begum after her release from captivity by Iranian enemies. [27/9/2013]


Paper; Water colour



Subjects depicted

Women; Men; Tent; Equestrians; Horses


Illustration; Manuscripts; Paintings; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project


South & South East Asia Collection

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