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Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590-95 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Miskina (artist)
    Paras (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:72-1896

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This page of the Akbarnama depicts a battle scene in which bullocks are dragging cannons uphill during the siege of Ranthambhor Fort, Rajasthan. Akbar set out from Agra in December, 1568, pausing on the way to visit sacred places in Delhi and the tomb of his father, Humayun. The campaign began in February 1569 and was won by the end of March when the ruler, Surjan Hara, submitted. See IS.2:74 and IS.2:76 for other paintings of this battle.

The Akbarnama was commissioned by the emperor Akbar as the official chronicle of his reign. It was written by his court historian and biographer Abu'l Fazl between 1590 and 1596 and is thought to have been illustrated between about 1592 and 1594 by at least 49 different artists from Akbar's studio. After Akbar's death in 1605, the manuscript remained in the library of his son, Jahangir (r. 1605-1627) and later Shah Jahan (r.1628-1658). The Victoria and Albert Museum purchased it in 1896 from Mrs Frances Clarke, the widow of Major-General John Clarke, who bought it in India while serving as Commissioner of Oudh between 1858 and 1862.

Physical description

Painting, in opaque watercolour and gold on paper, depicts bullocks dragging cannons uphill during the siege of Ranthambhor. The bullocks are being driven up a steep incline running diagonally from bottom left to the middle of the page at right. Cannons are firing from the cliff at top left, directed by the Mughal general at top right.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590-95 (made)

Artist/maker

Miskina (artist)
Paras (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'tarh Miskina/amal Paras'
'Composition by Miskina/Painted by Paras'
The contemporary attribution in Persian at the bottom of the page, beneath the picture, is written in red ink

Dimensions

Height: 37.5 cm page, Width: 25 cm page

Object history note

The Akbarnama was commissioned by the emperor Akbar as the official chronicle of his reign. It was written by his court historian and biographer Abu'l Fazl between 1590 and 1596 and is thought to have been illustrated between c. 1590 and 1594 by at least forty-nine different artists from Akbar's studio. After Akbar's death in 1605, the manuscript remained in the library of his son, Jahangir (r. 1605-1627) and later Shah Jahan (r. 1628-1658). The Victoria and Albert Museum purchased it in 1896 from Mrs Frances Clarke, the widow of Major-General John Clarke, who bought it in India while serving as Commissioner of Oudh between 1858 and 1862.

Historical significance: It is thought to be the first illustrated copy of the Akbarnama. It drew upon the expertise of some of the best royal painters of the time, many of whom receive special mention by Abu'l Fazl in the A'in-i-Akbari, the third book of the Akbarnama. The inscriptions in red ink on the bottom of the paintings refer to the artists and indicate that this was a royal copy.

Descriptive line

Painting, Akbarnama, bullocks dragging siege-guns up hill, outline by Miskina, painting by Paras, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95

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

Geeti Sen, Paintings from the Akbar Nama, 1984, p. 120, pl. 52, detail pl. 53, p. 122.
The Indian Heritage; Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule: V&A publication, 1982, ISBN 0906969263, p.33, no.27. (Andrew Topsfield)
p. 151, cat. no. 670a
The art of India and Pakistan, a commemorative catalogue of the exhibition held at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1947-8. Edited by Sir Leigh Ashton. London: Faber and Faber, [1950]

Labels and date

BULLOCKS DRAGGING SIEGE GUNS UP A HILL
Illustration to the Akbarnama
Opaque watercolour and gold on paper
Mughal, composition by Miskina, painted by Paras
c. 1590-95
IS.2:72-1896

After hunting at Palam, Akbar set out to capture the Rajput stronghold of Ranthambore. It was seen as impregnable, but was of immense strategic importance to the expanding Mughal empire. The emperor himself led the army to besiege the fortress in February 1569. When the heavy Mughal cannon breached the walls at the end of March, Rai Surjan Hara, the ruler, surrendered.
RAI SURJAN [27/9/2013]

Production Note

Composition by Miskina, colours and details painted by Paras.
Attribution place is likely to be Lahore.

Materials

Paper; Opaque watercolour; Paint

Techniques

Painted; Drawing

Subjects depicted

Hills; Cannons; Bullocks

Categories

Paintings; Images Online; Animals and Wildlife; Illustration; Military; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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