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Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bishndas (maker)
    Nanha (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour on paper

  • Museum number:

    IM.276-1913

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This painting from the Baburnama, or history of Babur, is the right half of a double-page composition (the left-hand page is Museum no. IM.276A-1913). It depictsthe Mughal emperor Babur (1483–1530) superintending the laying-out of the Garden of Fidelity at Kabul in the northern reaches of the Mughal empire, now in Afghanistan. Originally a Timurid prince in central Asia, Babur seized Kabul in 1504 and used it as a base for campaigns into Hindustan, where he founded the Mughal dynasty. The Garden of Fidelity (Bagh-e Vafa) was the first of many gardens he created. Situated to the south of Kabul, it was divided into quarters, fringed with orange and pomegranate trees and surrounded by a wall. The image shows the red sandstone wall and gateway of the garden, outside which the emperor’s horse and retinue are waiting. Akbar (r. 1556-1605) ordered his grandfather's memoirs to be translated from their original Turki into Persian, the pre-eminent language of the court and the administration of the empire, so that they could be widely read. The definitive copy was completed by 1589, and at least five illustrated copies were produced in the royal House of Books. This page comes from a dispersed copy that dates to about 1590.

Physical description

Painting, in opaque watercolour on paper, Baburnama illustration, Babur supervising laying out of a Kabul garden, by Bishndas. Babur is depicted on the right, facing left, in a yellow short-sleeved coat over a red jama and wearing white turban gesturing towards the gardeners. A servant holds a white sash, an emblem of royalty, above the emperor's shoulder. A man with a squared red board stands between the emperor and a square enclosure for the water course that divides the garden in four. Gardeners stand poised for action; a man holds a string along the watercourse that is held at the other end in the other side of the composition (IM.276A-1913). The garden is enclosed by a red brick wall and filled with pomegranate and other trees, and flowering plants.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590 (painted)

Artist/maker

Bishndas (maker)
Nanha (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour on paper

Marks and inscriptions

amal-e Bishndas chehreh mami nanha
work [=painting] [by] Bishndas; portraits [by] Nanha.
The artists are mentioned in the inscription beneath the painting in the lower margin. There is a faint "50" in red ink to the right. The painting illustrates a section of Persian text running across both pages of the composition towards the top and bottom.

Dimensions

Height: 21.7 cm painting only, Width: 14.3 cm painting only, Height: 26.5 cm page, Width: 16.8 cm page

Object history note

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, Baburnama illustration, Babur supervising the laying out of a Kabul garden, by Bishndas, opaque watercolour on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590

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

Shaha Parpia, “Mughal Hunting Grounds: Landscape Manipulation and ‘Garden’ Association”, in Garden History, Journal of The Gardens Trust, vol. 44:2(2016), 171-190. Illustrated (double page) Fig. 1.
pp.60-61, no.41
Guy, John and Swallow, Deborah (eds.) Arts of India: 1550-1900. Text by Rosemary Crill, John Guy, Veronica Murphy, Susan Stronge and Deborah Swallow. London : Victoria and Albert Museum, 1990, reprinted 1999. 240 p. : ill. ISBN: 1851770224.
Topsfield, Andrew, pp.32-33, cat.24
Skelton, Robert, et al, The Indian Heritage. Court life and Arts under Mughal Rule London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982
Susan Stronge, Painting for the Mughal emperor. The Art of the Book in India 1560-1650, V&A Publications, 2002, pl. 59 p. 91

Materials

Paint; Opaque watercolour; Paper

Techniques

Painted

Subjects depicted

Birds; Gardening; Gardens; Pomegranates

Categories

Paintings; Gardens & Gardening; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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