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Malik Ambar

Painting
ca. 1620 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Malik Ambar was born in Ethopia in 1548 with the name Chapu and was sold into slavery. He was eventually bought by a leading member of the Nizam Shahi court of Ahmadnagar, one of the fragile sultanates of the Deccan. The slave became a soldier, and eventually a commander of the Nizam Shahi army, leading it against the Mughal army of the emperor Akbar. By 1600 he had become Regent of the Kingdom, effectively ruling Ahmadnagar until his death in 1626. His army scored significant victories against the Mughals during the reign of Jahangir. The Mughal army was led by Jahangir's son, Shah Jahan, who rebelled against his father in 1624 and sought support from his former enemy. It is likely that Hashim was sent with Shah Jahan's envoy and painted this naturalistic portrait after seeing the subject at first hand.
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 Malik Ambar, by Hashim, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal empire, reign of Jahangir, ca. 1620
Physical Description
Painting, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Malik Ambar stands facing right, depicted against a plain light green ground. He is dressed in layers of fine white muslin, and holds a sword of Deccani form with a red scabbard. He has mauve trousers and red shoes. His red belt has gold pendant ornaments over which his multi-coloured sash is looped. The artist's signature is to the right of his sword. The later borders painted in the reign of Shah Jahan are filled with blossoming plants.
Dimensions
  • Page height: 38.6cm
  • Page width: 26.5cm
  • To edges of green ground height: 19.5cm
  • To edges of green ground width: 11.7cm
Content description
Portrait of Malik Ambar.
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
Object history
The folio is from a group of paintings acquired at auction in 1925 where they were sold as "The Minto Album" and subsequently divided between the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin and the V&A.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Malik Ambar was born in Ethopia in 1548 with the name Chapu and was sold into slavery. He was eventually bought by a leading member of the Nizam Shahi court of Ahmadnagar, one of the fragile sultanates of the Deccan. The slave became a soldier, and eventually a commander of the Nizam Shahi army, leading it against the Mughal army of the emperor Akbar. By 1600 he had become Regent of the Kingdom, effectively ruling Ahmadnagar until his death in 1626. His army scored significant victories against the Mughals during the reign of Jahangir. The Mughal army was led by Jahangir's son, Shah Jahan, who rebelled against his father in 1624 and sought support from his former enemy. It is likely that Hashim was sent with Shah Jahan's envoy and painted this naturalistic portrait after seeing the subject at first hand.
Associated Object
Bibliographic Reference
Susan Stronge, Painting for the Mughal Emperor. The art of the book 1560-1650, V&A Publications, 2002, pl. 123, p. 160 Richard M. Eaton, A Social History of the Deccan, 1300-1761. Eight Indian Lives, The New Cambridge History of India, I.8, Cambridge University Press, 2005,Chapter 5, 'Malik Ambar (1548-1626): the rise and fall of military slavery, pp. 105-128
Collection
Accession Number
IM.21-1925

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record createdJanuary 14, 2003
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