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  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    La'l (made)
    Durga (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque 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', and to date to about 1590. At least seven illustrated copies of the Baburnama have survived, datable to between 1589 and the end of Akbar's life in 1605. This painting depicts the bloody conquest of the fortified citadel of Chanderi by Babur's army in 1528. A contemporary annotation at the bottom of the page notes that the tarh (composition) is by La'l and the amal (work, ie the painting) is by Durga. La'l was one of the most famous artists in the imperial Mughal workshop in the 1590s.

Physical description

Painting, opaque watercolour on paper, Baburnama illustration, depicting the defenders of Chanderi putting their women to death as Babur's troops storm the fort in January 1528.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)


ca. 1590 (painted)


La'l (made)
Durga (made)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour on paper

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, defenders of Chanderi in 1528, opaque watercolour on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590. Composition by La'l, painting (amal) by Durga.

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

The translation of Babur's description of the conquest of Chanderi is in The Baburnama. Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor. Translated, edited and annotated by Wheeler M. Thackson. Freer Gallery of Art/Arthur M. Sackler Gallery/Oxford University Press, 1996, pp. 396-398.


Opaque watercolour; Paper; Paint



Subjects depicted

Army; Fort


Paintings; Military; War; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project


South & South East Asia Collection

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