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Akbar and Hamid Bakari

  • Object:

    Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590-95 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Miskina (maker)
    Sarwan (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:55-1896

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This illustration to the Akbarnama (Book of Akbar) is the right side of a double-page composition (see Museum no. IS.2:56-1896 for the left side). The entire composition depicts a ceremonial hunt that took place near Lahore, in present-day north-east Pakistan, in 1567. The Mughal emperor Akbar (r.1556–1605) is shown in the centre of the painting mounted on horseback with his sword raised. At top right Hamid Bakkari is shown being punished for firing an arrow at one of the servants of the court by having his head shaved and being forced to ride backwards on an ass. The composition was designed by the Mughal court artist Miskina, who also painted the face of the emperor, and the rest was painted by Sarwan.

The Akbarnama was commissioned by Akbar as the official chronicle of his reign. It was written in Persian by his court historian and biographer, Abu’l Fazl, between 1590 and 1596, and the V&A’s partial copy of the manuscript is thought to have been illustrated between about 1592 and 1595. This is thought to be the earliest illustrated version of the text, and drew upon the expertise of some of the best royal artists of the time. Many of these are listed by Abu’l Fazl in the third volume of the text, the A’in-i Akbari, and some of these names appear in the V&A illustrations, written in red ink beneath the pictures, showing that this was a royal copy made for Akbar himself. After his death, the manuscript remained in the library of his son Jahangir, from whom it was inherited by Shah Jahan.

The V&A purchased the manuscript in 1896 from 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, right side of double picture, the left side being IS.2:56-1896. The Mughal emperor Akbar (r.1556–1605) is shown in the centre of the painting mounted on horseback with his sword raised. At top right Hamid Bakkari is shown being punished for firing an arrow at one of the servants of the court by having his head shaved and being forced to ride backwards on an ass.

Place of Origin

Mughal empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590-95 (made)

Artist/maker

Miskina (maker)
Sarwan (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Tarh va nami chehra Miskina/Amal Sarwan'
'Composition and portraits by Miskina/work [=painting] by Sarwan'
Contemporary attribution in Persian in red ink

Dimensions

Height: 32.1 cm, Width: 18.6 cm

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. 1592 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 Museum purchased it in 1896 from the widow of Major General Clarke, an official who had been the Commissioner in Oudh province 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 name the artists.

Descriptive line

Painting, Akbarnama, Akbar punishes Hamid Bakari, outline and portraits by Miskina, painting by Sarwan, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95

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

Swallow, Deborah and John Guy eds. Arts of India: 1550-1900. text by Rosemary Crill, John Guy, Veronica Murphy, Susan Stronge and Deborah Swallow. London : V&A Publications, 1990. 240 p., ill. ISBN 1851770224, p.72, no.50.
Divyabhanusinh, 'Hunting in Mughal Painting', in Som Prakash Verma, ed., Flora and Fauna in Mughal ARt, Marg Publications, Mumbai 1999, 94-108.
Susan Stronge, Painting for the Mughal Emperor. The Art of the Book 1560-1650, V&A Publications, 2002, pl. 42, p. 63.
p. 63, pl. 42 (right).
STRONGE, Susan. Painting for the Mughal Emperor: The Art of the Book 1560 – 1660 London : V&A Publications, 2002. 192p, ill. ISBN 1 85177 358 4.
p. 75, pl. 51
Stronge, S. Made for Mughal Emperors. Royal Treasures from Hindustan. London and New York, 2010
p.69, pl. 68, cat no. 26, p. 212
Stronge, S. "The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms", V&A, 1999
Crill, Rosemary, Arts of Asia, vol. 45, no. 5, September - October 2015, "The Fabric of India" Exhibition, p.73. pl. 15.
p. 151, cat. no. 670 d
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]
p. 18, cat. no. 2
Swallow, D., Stronge, S., Crill, R., Koezuka, T., editor and translator, "The Art of the Indian Courts. Miniature Painting and Decorative Arts", Victoria & Albert Museum and NHK Kinki Media Plan, 1993.

Production Note

Composition by Miskina, colours and details painted by Sarwan.

Materials

Paper; Opaque watercolour; Paint

Techniques

Painted; Drawing

Subjects depicted

Servants; Ruler; Arrow; Ass

Categories

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

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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