Not currently on display at the V&A

Zain Khan Koka

Painting
late 16th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This portrait was probably painted for the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556-1605) and depicts Zain Khan, who name was always followed by "Koka", meaning "foster brother" in recognition of his relationship with the ruler: his mother had been Akbar's wet nurse. Zain Khan's daughter married Akbar's son, Salim (later the emperor Jahangir, who ruled from 1605-1627). He had a distinguished career, leading the Mughal armies in campaigns against the Afghans, and becoming governor of Kabul in AH 1005 (1596-97) before dying in battle in AH 1010 (1601-02). He was an accomplished musician, and according to a contemporary chronicler was without equal in his talent for "playing Hindu music". He was also a calligrapher and poet. This portrait is one of many commissioned by Akbar of his immediate circle at court. The portrait was inherited by Jahangir on his accession, and the black inscription identifying the subject of the portrait is in his hand. The painting was bought by the museum in 1965 from the Trustees of the estate of Captain E. G. Spencer-Churchill. Before that it had been in the collection of Warren Hastings, who was Governor-General of India from 1774 to 1785.
read The arts of the Mughal Empire The great age of Mughal art lasted from about 1580 to 1650 and spanned the reigns of three emperors: Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Hindu and Muslim artists and craftsmen from the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent worked with Iranian masters in the masculine environment of the r...
object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper
Brief Description
Painting, portrait of Zain Khan Koka, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, late 16th century
Physical Description
Painting, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, a portrait of the Emperor Akbar's foster brother, Zain Khan Kuka (d. 1600) against a green background.
Dimensions
  • Image within innermost painted borders height: 100mm
  • Image within innermost painted borders width: 66mm
  • Height: 320mm
  • Width: 220mm
07/08/2013 dimensions measured as part of Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project 2013
Content description
The 3mperor Akbar's foster brother, Zain Khan Kuka (d. 1600) against a green background.
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
(Written in Persian in black ink in Jahangir's hand, on the left side of the portrait.)
Object history
Formerly in the collections of Warren Hastings (Governor-General of India 1774-1785) and Captain E. G. Spencer-Churchill. Sold to the museum (with other paintings in the Spencer-Churchill collection) in 1965.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This portrait was probably painted for the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556-1605) and depicts Zain Khan, who name was always followed by "Koka", meaning "foster brother" in recognition of his relationship with the ruler: his mother had been Akbar's wet nurse. Zain Khan's daughter married Akbar's son, Salim (later the emperor Jahangir, who ruled from 1605-1627). He had a distinguished career, leading the Mughal armies in campaigns against the Afghans, and becoming governor of Kabul in AH 1005 (1596-97) before dying in battle in AH 1010 (1601-02). He was an accomplished musician, and according to a contemporary chronicler was without equal in his talent for "playing Hindu music". He was also a calligrapher and poet. This portrait is one of many commissioned by Akbar of his immediate circle at court. The portrait was inherited by Jahangir on his accession, and the black inscription identifying the subject of the portrait is in his hand. The painting was bought by the museum in 1965 from the Trustees of the estate of Captain E. G. Spencer-Churchill. Before that it had been in the collection of Warren Hastings, who was Governor-General of India from 1774 to 1785.
Bibliographic References
  • Susan Stronge, Painting for the Mughal emperor. The art of the book in India 1560-1650, V&A Publications, 2002, pl. 68, p. 102.
  • The Indian Portrait: 1560-1860 London: National Portrait Gallery, 2010 Number: 978 1 85514 409 5p. 27, fig. 3.
Collection
Accession Number
IS.91-1965

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record createdOctober 4, 2006
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