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Mu'nim Khan and Khwaja Jahan

  • Object:

    Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590-95 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Basawan (maker)
    Mah Muhammad (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:50-1896

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This illustration to the Akbarnama (Book of Akbar) depicts Mu’nim Khan, chief minister (‘khan-i khanan’) to the Mughal emperor Akbar (r.1556–1605), pleading with the emperor on behalf of rebels in 1565. Its composition was designed by Basawan, one of the greatest artists at the Mughal court, and then painted by Mah Muhammad.

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, Mu'nim Khan and Khwaja Khan interceding with Akbar in 1565.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590-95 (made)

Artist/maker

Basawan (maker)
Mah Muhammad (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Tarh Basawan/amal Mah Muhammad'
'composition by Basawan/work [= painting] by Mah Muhammad'
Contemporary librarian's attribution in Persian written beneath the image at the bottom of the page in red ink.

Dimensions

Height: 31.8 cm, Width: 19.9 cm average

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,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 inscriptions in red ink on the bottom of the paintings name the artists.

Descriptive line

Painting, Akbarnama, Mu'nim Khan and Khwaja Jahan interceding with Akbar, outline by Basawan, painting by Mah Muhammad, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95

Materials

Paper; Opaque watercolour; Paint

Techniques

Painted; Drawing

Subjects depicted

Ruler

Categories

ELISE; Paintings; Images Online; Illustration; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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