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Khwaja Sahib

Painting
ca. 1650 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This painting of a gathering of mystics was painted during the reign of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, probably between about 1650 and 1655. It depicts Sufi saints and courtiers in the shrine of Muin ad-Din Chishti , the supposed founder of the order of Chishti sufis in Hindustan in the 11th century. They are in the presence of dervishes who attempt to attain mystical states by ecstatic dancing, music, and chanting. Three Muslim saints are among them: Qutb ad-Din Bakhtiyar Kaki, who died in 1235, Muin ad-Din Chishti himself (he died in 1236) and Mullah Shah Badakhshi who was still alive at the time the painting was done. In the forground, a group of Hindu figures, members of various eclectic groups, are identified by minuscule inscriptions.
The painting was once in the collection of Warren Hastings, Governor-General of India from 1774-1785.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper
Brief Description
Painting, Khwaja Sahib and a gathering of mystics and musicians, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1650-1655
Physical Description
Panting, in opaque watercolour and gold on paper, allegorical outdoor scene of a gathering of holy men, probably near the shrine of Mu'in al-Din Chishti in Ajmer. An assembly of dervishes watch the celebration of the Zikr, or whirling dance, on the plinth of a building. In the foreground sit twelve Hindu religious reformers and teachers of the 15th to 17th centuries, and in the distance on a plain receding to a group of hills are various sideshows and refreshment booths such as are found during the celebration of the Urs of a saint. Of the two principal figures standing before the building (towards whom those on each side are facing), the white robed figure with a staff and rosary is identified by an inscription as 'Khwaja Qutb al-din' the friend and pupil of Muin al-din Chishti. The figure facing him can be identified on the basis of inscribed imaginary portraits as Muin al-din himself. The Hills in the distance are recognisably those of Ajmer. The saints in the foreground are identified by inscriptions from left to right, which show them to be seated in approximately chronological order as follows: Rai Das (fl. 1470), Pipa (born 1425), Namdev (probably), Sain, Kamal, Aughur, Kabir, Pir Muchhandar, Gorakh, Jadrup, Lal Swami, ...Swami.
Dimensions
  • Height: 41.5cm
  • Width: 28.4cm
  • With border height: 43.9cm
  • With border width: 30.5cm
Content description
An assemply of dervishes watch the celebration of the Zikr, or whirling dance, on the plinth of a building.
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
(Khwaja Qutb al-Din is the only inscribed figure in the row at the back; he is presumably Khwaja Qutb al-Din Ushi Kaki, friend and pupil of Mu'in al-Din Chishti)
Object history
Formerly in the collections of Warren Hastings (Govenor-General of India 1774-1785) and Captain E. G. Spencer-Churchill. Sold to the museum (with other paintings in the Spencer-Churchill collection) in 1965.
Subjects depicted
Place Depicted
Summary
This painting of a gathering of mystics was painted during the reign of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, probably between about 1650 and 1655. It depicts Sufi saints and courtiers in the shrine of Muin ad-Din Chishti , the supposed founder of the order of Chishti sufis in Hindustan in the 11th century. They are in the presence of dervishes who attempt to attain mystical states by ecstatic dancing, music, and chanting. Three Muslim saints are among them: Qutb ad-Din Bakhtiyar Kaki, who died in 1235, Muin ad-Din Chishti himself (he died in 1236) and Mullah Shah Badakhshi who was still alive at the time the painting was done. In the forground, a group of Hindu figures, members of various eclectic groups, are identified by minuscule inscriptions.

The painting was once in the collection of Warren Hastings, Governor-General of India from 1774-1785.
Bibliographic References
  • Elinor W. Gadon, "Dara Shikuh's mystical vision of Hindu-Muslim synthesis", in Robert Skelton, Andrew Topsfield, Susan Stronge and Rosemary Crill, eds., Facets of Indian Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1986, pp. 153-157 Pratapaditya Pal, Janice Leoshko, Joseph M. Dye, III, Stephen Markel. Romance of the Taj Mahal, Time Books International, New Delhi, 1989, fig. 97, p. 101 James Mallinson, "Yoga & Yogis", in namarupa. Categories of Indian Thought, Issue 15 Volume 03 March 2012, p. 23 Swallow, Deborah and John Guy eds. Arts of India: 1550-1900. text by Rosemary Crill, John Guy, Veronica Murphy, Susan Stronge and Deborah Swallow. London : V&A Publications, 1990. 240 p., ill. ISBN 1851770224, p.93, no.71.
  • L Binyon and T W Arnold, Court Painters of the Grand Moguls, Oxford 1921, pls XVIII and XIX, and pp. 61, 72 and 73.
Collection
Accession Number
IS.94-1965

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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