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Khwaja Sahib

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1650 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)


ca. 1650 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Khwaja Qutb al-Din'
[subject's name]
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


Height: 41.5 cm, Width: 28.4 cm, Height: 43.9 cm with border, Width: 30.5 cm with border

Object history note

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.

Descriptive line

Painting, Khwaja Sahib and a gathering of mystics and musicians, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1650-1655

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

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
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.


Opaque watercolour; Paper; Gold



Subjects depicted

Religion; Musicians; Mystics; Dervishes; Dancing; Dance; Figures; Musical instruments


Images Online; Paintings; Religion; Islam; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project


South & South East Asia Collection

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