Akbar Receives the Iranian Ambassador Sayyid Beg in 1562 thumbnail 1
Akbar Receives the Iranian Ambassador Sayyid Beg in 1562 thumbnail 2
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images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
South Asia, Room 41

Akbar Receives the Iranian Ambassador Sayyid Beg in 1562

Painting
ca. 1590-95 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This illustration to the Akbarnama (Book of Akbar) depicts the Mughal emperor Akbar (r.1556–1605) receiving the Iranian ambassador, Sayyid Beg, in 1562, during Akbar's seventh regnal year. Sayyid Beg was the cousin of Shah Tahmasp of Iran, being the son of the shah’s paternal uncle Ma’sum Beg. The emissary had been sent to convey the shah's condolences on the death of Akbar’s father, Humayun in 1556, and to congratulate the young ruler on his accession. Sayyid Beg brought ‘fiery Arabian steeds and fleet-footed Iranian and Anatolian horses and presents of precious textiles and rare objects’ [Wheeler M. Thackston, ed and translator, Abu’l-Fazl, The History of Akbar, Murty Classical Library of India, vol. 3 p. 246]. This is the right half of a double page designed by the Mughal court artist La’l. The left half (Museum no. IS.2:28-1896) shows the entourage of the ambassador bearing their gifts.

The Akbarnama was commissioned by Akbar 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.

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, Akbarnama, Akbar receives Iranian ambassador Sayyid Beg, outline by La'l, painting by Nand, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95
Physical Description
Painting, in opaque watercolour and gold on paper, the emperor Akbar receiving Sayyid Beg, the ambassador from Persia, at Agra, the imperial capital in 1562. The image is overlaid by two bands of text at the top and bottom, extending from the left-hand margin.
Dimensions
  • Painting height: 30.8cm
  • Painting width: 19.1cm
Content description
The emperor Akbar receiving Sayyid Beg, the ambassador from Persia, at Agra, the imperial capital in 1562.
Styles
Marks and Inscriptions
(Contemporary attribution in Persian, written in red ink below the painting)
Object history
The Akbarnama was commissioned by the emperor Akbar as an official chronicle of his reign. It was written by his court historian and biographer Abu'l Fazl between 1590 and 1596, and illustrated between about 1590 and 1595 by at least forty-nine different artists from Akbar's studio. After Akbar's death, the manuscript remained in the library of his son, Jahangir. The Victoria and Albert Museum purchased it in 1896 from the widow of major General Clarke, an official who served as the Commissioner in Oudh province.



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 refer to the artists and indicate that this was a royal copy.
Production
Composition by La'l, colours and details painted by Nand.

Attribution place is likely to be Delhi, Agra or Fatehpur Sikri.
Subjects depicted
Place Depicted
Association
Literary ReferenceAkbarnama
Summary
This illustration to the Akbarnama (Book of Akbar) depicts the Mughal emperor Akbar (r.1556–1605) receiving the Iranian ambassador, Sayyid Beg, in 1562, during Akbar's seventh regnal year. Sayyid Beg was the cousin of Shah Tahmasp of Iran, being the son of the shah’s paternal uncle Ma’sum Beg. The emissary had been sent to convey the shah's condolences on the death of Akbar’s father, Humayun in 1556, and to congratulate the young ruler on his accession. Sayyid Beg brought ‘fiery Arabian steeds and fleet-footed Iranian and Anatolian horses and presents of precious textiles and rare objects’ [Wheeler M. Thackston, ed and translator, Abu’l-Fazl, The History of Akbar, Murty Classical Library of India, vol. 3 p. 246]. This is the right half of a double page designed by the Mughal court artist La’l. The left half (Museum no. IS.2:28-1896) shows the entourage of the ambassador bearing their gifts.



The Akbarnama was commissioned by Akbar 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.



Bibliographic References
  • Susan Stronge, Painting for the Mughal Emperor. The Art of the Book 1560-1650, V&A Publications, 2002, p. 23, p. 38 pl. 26
  • The V&A Album, 5, London: 1986 Number: ISBN 1851770771Stronge, Susan, Jewels for the Mughal Court, pp/ 308-317
Other Number
106 - Inscription/original number
Collection
Accession Number
IS.2:27-1896

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record createdOctober 23, 1998
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