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Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    1621 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Mansur (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IM.23-1925

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The zebra in this painting was presented to the Mughal emperor Jahangir (r. 1605-1627) by Mir Ja'far who had acquired it from some Turks who had travelled to India from Africa. Jahangir wrote on the painting (in Persian, the court language) that it was: 'A mule which the Turks in the company of Mir Ja'far had brought from Abyssinia in the year 1030 [1620-21], completed by Nader al-Asri [Wonder of the Age], Ustad Mansur"'.

When Jahangir had carefully examined it, and ensured that it was not, as some thought, a horse on which someone had painted stripes, he decided to send it to Shah Abbas of Iran, with whom he often exchanged rare or exotic presents.

The painting is part of a group known as the Minto Album, now divided between the V&A and the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, all of which were done for Jahangir or his son, Shah Jahan (r. 1628-1658).

Physical description

This depiction of a zebra bears an inscription 'a zebra which the Turks in the company of Mir Ja'far had brought from Abyssinia in the year 1030 [1620-21] and the Wonder of the Age, Ustad Mansur, has drawn it'. A floral border frames the image.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

1621 (made)

Artist/maker

Mansur (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'A zebra [or possibly 'mule'] which the Turks in the company of Mir Ja'far had brought from Abyssinia in the year 1030 [1620-21] and the Wonder of the Age, Ustad Mansur, has drawn it'.
The Persian inscription was written by Jahangir and runs along the right side of the painting.

Dimensions

Height: 18.3 cm unmounted, Width: 24 cm page H: .26.9 W: 38.7cm

Object history note

The folio is from a group of paintings acquired at auction in 1925 where they were sold as "The Minto Album" and subsequently divided between the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin and the V&A.

Descriptive line

Painting, a zebra, by Mansur, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, 1621

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

Susan Stronge, Painting for the Mughal Emperor: The Art of the Book 1560-1650, V&A Publications, 2002, pl. 100, p. 135.
Skelton, R. in The Indian Heritage; Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule: V&A publication, 1982, ISBN 0906969263, p.39, pl..46.

Barnard, Nick: Arts of Asia, vol. 45, no. 5, September - October 2015, "The Parasol Foundation Trust Programme: digitising and cataloguing the V&A's South Asian collection.", p.104, pl. 16.
T.Koezuka,ed; RC,TK,SS, catalogue; intro DS&TK; The Arts of the Indian Courts. Osaka.1993. No.12
Susan Stronge in Jay A. Levenson, ed., Encompassing the Globe. Portugal and the World in the 16th & 17th Centuries, Reference Catalogue, cat. 1.9, p. 111.
p. 134, pl. 98
Stronge, S. Made for Mughal Emperors. Royal Treasures from Hindustan. London and New York, 2010

Production Note

The borders date from the reign of Shah Jahan (1628-1658)

Materials

Opaque watercolour; Gold; Paper

Techniques

Painted

Subjects depicted

Zebra

Categories

Paintings; Animals and Wildlife; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project

Production Type

Unique

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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