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Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper

Agra, Provincial Mughal, 1600-1630

Image: 5 x 5.5 in (each)
12.5 x 13.75 cm (each)
Folio: a) 5.5 x 6 in (13.75 x 15 cm)

(Set of two)

These two miniatures belong to a later rendition of the manuscript Shahnama written by Firdousi. The Shahnama, The Epic of the Kings, is an incredibly elaborate manuscript which was first illustrated during the Ilkhanid Period (1256-1353). It is widely believed that the original version of the illustrated book was commissioned by the vizier Ghiyat al-Din, son of Rashid al- Din of Tabriz.

The Shahnama was written in Persian verse, and narrated the epic of the kings and heroes before the advent of Islam in Iran. Love, betrayal, valour and courage are the main themes which are represented in the manuscript.

Over centuries foreign rulers were fascinated by the concepts of divine glory, legitimacy and justice which were well explained throughout the book and therefore commissioning copies of the Shahnama almost turned into royal duty and it became a way of legitimizing their succession.

The Shahnama's pages are frequently entirely painted and the characters are illustrated with great monumentality.

'Sub-Imperial' and 'Popular' are two terms often given to this style of Mughal painting executed for patrons, possibly Hindu rather than Muslim, close to the royal ateliers of the Mughal rulers Akbar and Jahangir.

For comparison see E. Binney, The Mughal and Deccani Schools, Indian Miniature Painting from the Collection of Edwin Binney, 3rd., Portland, Oregon, 1973, nos 32, 37 & 39, and the Hanrott Album, Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts, Indian and Persian Miniatures from the collection of Sir Thomas Phillipps Bt. (1792-1872), Sotheby & Co., 27th November, 1974, lot 789, nos 51 & 52.

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  Lot 1 of 22  

24-25 APRIL 2013

$4,000 - 6,000
Rs 2,08,000 - 3,12,000

Winning Bid
Rs 3,27,600
(Inclusive of Buyer's Premium)

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Formerly from the collection of the Hardy Family of Chilham Castle, Kent


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