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Painting - Hamza's scout Kawsadi searches for his lost steed, but finds it being devoured by a lion.
  • Hamza's scout Kawsadi searches for his lost steed, but finds it being devoured by a lion.
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Hamza's scout Kawsadi searches for his lost steed, but finds it being devoured by a lion.

  • Object:


  • Date:

    ca.1562-1577 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    gouache on prepared cotton backed with paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The Hamzanama, or 'Book of Hamza' was commissioned by the great Mughal emperor Akbar in the mid-16th century. The epic story of a character based very loosely on the life of the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad chronicles the fantastic adventures of Hamza as he and his band of heroes fight against the enemies of Islam. The stories, from a long-established oral tradition, were written down in Persian, the language of the court, in multiple volumes. These originally had 1400 illustrations, of which fewer than 200 survive today. No contemporary version of the text is known, and it is now difficult to follow the complicated stories of the original. Work on the volumes probably began in about 1562 and took 15 years to complete.
In this painting, Hamza's scout Kawsadi has been searching for his lost horse, and discovers it being devoured by a lion near the sleeping giant Zumrud Shah.

Physical description

The giant Zumrud Shah occupies the centre of the composition painted in gouache on cotton, reclining asleep with one hand behind his head and the other resting on his calf. In the foreground, a lion devours a horse; in the background, women draw water from a well. The surface is very damaged, especially over the lion's head. Text on the back is written on paper backed with cotton; the painted cotton on the other side of the folio is backed with paper and the four layers are glued together.


ca.1562-1577 (made)

Materials and Techniques

gouache on prepared cotton backed with paper

Marks and inscriptions

Text number 15 on the back


Height: 68 cm, Width: 52.3 cm

Object history note

Folio from volumes commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Akbar.bought for the museum by Caspar Purdon Clarke in Srinagar in 1881.

Historical context note

The 'Hamzanama' was the first major project undertaken by the new painting studio of the Mughal court. Directed by two Iranian masters brought to India by Humayun, work began under Akbar and was said to have taken fifteen years to complete, drawing from artists from all over northern Hindustan.

Descriptive line

Hamza's scout Kawsadi searches for his lost steed, but finds it being devoured by a lion, while Zumurrud Shah sleeps nearby. Hamzanama. 1562-77

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

Seyller, John. The Adventures of Hamza. Smithsonian Institution. 2002, cat. R144, illustrated p. 274, caption p. 275.
pl. 11
C. Stanley Clarke; Twelve Mogul Paintings of the School of Humaym (16th century) illustrating the Romance of Amir Hamzah, H.M.S.O. 1921
Irwin, John C., Indian Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1968


Gouache; Paper; Cotton

Subjects depicted

Horse; Lion; Giant


Manuscripts; Paintings


South & South East Asia Collection

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