The women of Muhammad Shah's harem setting up an encampment in the countryside thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

The women of Muhammad Shah's harem setting up an encampment in the countryside

Album Page
ca. 1730-1740 (made)
Place Of Origin

This painting is included in an album of drawings compiled for Colonel Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Gentil in Faizabad in 1774, but is an earlier work done in the reign of the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah (r.1719-1748). It depicts an encampment of the women of his court immediately outside the palace. A key supplied by Gentil identifies some of the leading figures: in the foreground, the emperor's mother rides a white bullock. Behind her, the emperor's wife Badshah Begam reclines on cushions smoking a huqqa accompanied by dancers and musicians. She was given the title Malek az-Zamani (Queen of the Age) by her husband on their marriage in 1721. Some of the women of the harem are engaged in erecting scarlet screens (qanats) to conceal them from public view, others play with children, ride on boats on the river, prepare food or dance.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Opaque watercolour
Brief Description
Gentil; Manuscripts, Col J B J Gentil, Faizabad, ca. 1774. Page number 6. The zenana of Muhammad Shah on a visit to the country
Physical Description
The zenana of Muhammad Shah on a visit to the country. The emperor's mother is riding on a white bullock, the ladies are indulging in various forms of recreation. River and imperial boat in the foreground. Executed in opaque water colour.
Dimensions
  • Length: 37cm
  • Width: 53.5cm
Marks and Inscriptions
(The album throughout is inscribed with notes relating to each of the illustrations. A list of contents gives Gentil's title and a brief description for each folio. Inscribed inside front cover.)
Subjects depicted
Summary
This painting is included in an album of drawings compiled for Colonel Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Gentil in Faizabad in 1774, but is an earlier work done in the reign of the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah (r.1719-1748). It depicts an encampment of the women of his court immediately outside the palace. A key supplied by Gentil identifies some of the leading figures: in the foreground, the emperor's mother rides a white bullock. Behind her, the emperor's wife Badshah Begam reclines on cushions smoking a huqqa accompanied by dancers and musicians. She was given the title Malek az-Zamani (Queen of the Age) by her husband on their marriage in 1721. Some of the women of the harem are engaged in erecting scarlet screens (qanats) to conceal them from public view, others play with children, ride on boats on the river, prepare food or dance.
Bibliographic Reference
Archer, Mildred. Company Paintings Indian Paintings of the British period Victoria and Albert Museum Indian Series London: Victoria and Albert Museum, Mapin Publishing, 1992 119 p. ISBN 0944142303 Chanchal Dadlani, ‘Transporting India. The Gentil Album and Mughal Manuscript Culture’, Art History. 2025, pp. 748-761
Collection
Accession Number
IS.25:6-1980

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdJune 25, 2009
Record URL