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Painting - Umar is received by the giant Zumrud Shah

Umar is received by the giant Zumrud Shah

  • Object:

    Painting

  • Date:

    ca.1562-1577 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    gouache on cotton backed with paper; the text written on paper backed with cotton, the folio therefore being made of four layers glued together.

  • Museum number:

    IS.2513-1883

  • 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. Work probably began in about 1562 and took 15 years to complete.
The very damaged painting depicts the giant Zumrud Shah at right on top of a hexagonal building occupied by figures who express amazement by placing their finger on their lips. He wears a helmet resembling a crown, with a plume. Figures in the foreground prostrate themselves before him; those in the background raise their hands in gestures of respect. Some underdrawing is visible at top left. The scene has been identified as Zumrud Shah receiving Umar who is given a beautiful maiden.

Physical description

The very damaged painting depicts the giant at right on top of a hexagonal building occupied by figures who express amazement by placing their finger on their lips. He wears a helmet resembling a crown, with a plume. Figures in the foreground prostrate themselves before him; those in the background raise their hands in gestures of respect. Some underdrawing is visible at top left.

Date

ca.1562-1577 (made)

Materials and Techniques

gouache on cotton backed with paper; the text written on paper backed with cotton, the folio therefore being made of four layers glued together.

Marks and inscriptions

Painting number 26, text number 27

Dimensions

Height: 67.9 cm, Width: 50.3 cm

Object history note

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

Umar is received by Zumrud Shah and obtains a beautiful maiden. He also spies upon the enemy Army. Hamzanama. 1562-77.

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

C. Stanley Clarke. Indian Drawings. Twelve Mogul Paintings of the School of Humayun (16th century) illustrating the Romance of Amir Hamzah. Victoria and Albert Museum Portfolios, London, 1921.
Seyller, John. The Adventures of Hamza. Smithsonian Institution. 2002, cat. R 157 pp. 276-277.
Gluck, 1925, fig. 25

Materials

Gouache; Paper; Cotton

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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