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Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590-95 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:69-1896

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This page of the Akbarnama depicts the 'jauhar', or burning, of the Rajput women following the fall of the fortress of Chitor in 1568. The women perished rather than be captured by the enemy, and it is thought that as many as 300 women died.Akbar ordered thousands of Rajput men to be killed after the Mughal victory in retaliation for their fierce resistance.

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, the Jauhar, or the burning of the Rajput women during the siege of the fortress of Chitor in 1568. The royal Mughal tents, identifiable by their red colour, are at lower left of the composition, behind the firing lines of the Mughal cannon. Above a blank text panel, at top right, the women of the fort are about to be consumed by flames which spurt out into the margin of the page.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590-95 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Dimensions

Height: 32 cm painting, Width: 19.2 cm painting

Object history note

The "jauhar" or burning of the Rajput women following the fall of the fortress of Chitor to the Mughal army in 1568. The women were burned to death rather than being captured by the enemy. It is thought that as many as three hundred women died during this event, and Akbar ordered thousands of Rajput men to be killed as a punishment for their resistance.

Historical significance: The pages in the V&A are thought to be from 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, burning of the Rajput women, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95

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

Susan Stronge, Painting for the Mughal Emperor. The Art of the Book 1560-1650, V&a Publications, 2002, pl. 55, p. 85.

Production Note

The artists are unidentified.
The attribution place is likely to be Lahore.

Materials

Paper; Opaque watercolour; Paint

Techniques

Painted; Drawing

Subjects depicted

Women; Battle; Cannon; Tents; Fire; Battle

Categories

Paintings; Manuscripts; Illustration; Images Online; Military; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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