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Sultan Adam

  • Object:

    Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590-95 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Tulsi (maker)
    Bhawani (maker)
    Sanwala (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:31-1896

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This illustration to the Akbarnama (Book of Akbar) depicts the victory of the imperial Mughal army, led by Qutb ud-Din and Sharif Khan, over Sultan Adam of Ghakkar (now in north-east Pakistan), in the Panjab in 1563. Three court artists – Tulsi, Bhawani and Sanwala – worked on the painting.

The Akbarnama was commissioned by the Mughal emperor Akbar (r.1556–1605) 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, this painting depicts the massed forces of the Mughal army in the victory of Qutb ud-Din and Sharif Khan over Sultan Adam of Ghakkar, in the Punjab, in 1563.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590-95 (made)

Artist/maker

Tulsi (maker)
Bhawani (maker)
Sanwala (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Tarh Tulsi/Amal Bhawani/Chehreh nami Sanwala'
'composition by Tulsi/work [=painted] by Bhawani/faces by Sanwala'
Contemporary librarian's attribution in Persian are written beneath the image at the bottom of the page in red ink

Dimensions

Height: 32 cm, Width: 18.9 cm

Object history note

The Akbarnama was commissioned by the emperor Akbar as the official chronicle of his reign. It was written by 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 that of Shah Jahan (r. 1628-1658). The Museum purchased it in 1896 from the widow of Major General John 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 inscriptions in red ink on the bottom of the paintings name the artists.

Descriptive line

Painting, Akbarnama, victory of the Imperial Mughal Army over Sultan Adam, outline by Tulsi, portraits by Sanwala, painting by Bhawani, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95

Production Note

Composition by Tulsi; painted by Bhawani, portraits by Sanwala.

Materials

Paper; Opaque watercolour; Paint

Techniques

Painted; Drawing

Subjects depicted

Army; Battle

Categories

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

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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