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  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1612 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Mansur (painter)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Lady Wantage

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The painting of a North American turkey cock done for the Mughal emperor Jahangir (r. 1605-1627) records its arrival at the court in 1612. Jahangir had asked his friend Muqarrab Khan to procure rarities of any kind at the port of Cambay, on the western coast, and in 1612 a consignment of exotic birds and animals caused a sensation. Jahangir recorded this in his memoirs, written in Persian. The English translation is by Alexander Rogers and Henry Beveridge: "as these animals appeared to me to be very strange, I both described them and ordered that painters should draw them in the Jahangir-nama ["Book of Jahangir", his memoirs], so that the amazement that arose from hearing of them might be increased. One of these animals in body is larger than a peahen and smaller than a peacock. When it is in heat and displays itself, it spreads out its feathers like the peacock and dances about. Its beak and legs are like those of a cock. Its head and neck and the part under the throat are every minute of a different colour. When it is in heat it is quite red - one might say it had adorned itself with red coral - and after a while it becomes white in the same places and looks like cotton. It sometimes looks of a turquoise colour. Like a chameleon it constantly changes colour." The painting, signed by the leading artist of the court Mansur, was preserved in an album, probably during the reign of Jahangir when the floral borders were added to it. At an unknown date the album was dismembered, and this page was part of a group of folios bequeathed to the museum in 1921 by Lady Wantage.

Physical description

Painting, in opaque watercolour and gold on paper, a turkey cock facing left, painted on a ground undecorated except for a line of flowers beneath its feet and streaks of clouds above. The artist's signature is beneath its wattle on the undecorated ground above the flowers. The painting is framed by bands of calligraphy above and beneath, and the page has borders of gold-painted flowering plants on undyed paper.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)


ca. 1612 (painted)


Mansur (painter)

Materials and Techniques

Opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'amal-e bande-ye dargah mansur nader al-'asr jahangir shahi'
'work of the slave of the court, Mansur, Wonder of the Jahangirian Age'
This is the signature of the artist, not an attribution.


Height: 12.8 cm, Width: 12.2 cm, Height: 39 cm page, Width: 26.4 cm page

Object history note

A copy of this painting is in the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum, Jaipur: A.G. 839. Another turkey cock painted in Mughal India is in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Descriptive line

Painting, turkey cock, by Mansur, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1612

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.79, no.54
No. 23, pl. 15
Clarke, C. Stanley; Indian Drawings: Thirty Mogul Paintings of the School of Jehangir and Four Panels of Calligraphy ini the Wantage Bequest. London 1922
Susan Stronge, Painting for the Mughal Emperor. The art of the book 1560-1660, plate 99 and pp. 134-135.
p. 19, cat. no. 9.
Topsfield, Andrew, An introduction to Indian Court Painting, H.M.S.O., London, 1984, 0112903835


Opaque watercolour; Paper; Gold



Subjects depicted

Bird; Cock; Clouds; Turkey; Flowers


Illustration; Paintings; Animals and Wildlife; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project


South & South East Asia Collection

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