Saturday, April 30, 2011


detail, Padshahnama, Mughal

Ragaputra Sarang

Deccan School

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pet Lion


Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Annunciation, Oudh

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mounted on Horse


Shri Ganesha


This page of the Akbarnama depicts the 'jauhar', or burning, of the Rajput women following the fall of the fortress of Chitor in 1568. The women preferred to perish rather than be captured by the enemy, and it is thought that as many as 300 women died in the event.

The Akbarnama was commissioned by the emperor Akbar as the official chronicle of his reign. It was written by his court historian and biographer Abu'l Fazl between 1590 and 1596 and is thought to have been illustrated between about 1592 and 1594 by at least 49 different artists from Akbar's studio. After Akbar's death in 1605, the manuscript remained in the library of his son, Jahangir (r. 1605-1627) and later Shah Jahan (r. 1628-1658). The Victoria and Albert Museum purchased it in 1896 from Mrs Frances Clarke, the widow of Major-General John Clarke, who bought it in India while serving as Commissioner of Oudh between 1858 and 1862.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Slaying of Mahishasura

This probably isn't a miniature painting as such, but there are many miniatures of this subject: the Goddess killing the demon Mahisha.


The Ascetics of Chitrakuta ask for Lord Rama's Protection, Illustration from the Ramayana.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Gazing at the Moon

An illustration from a Baramasa: The Month of Chait, Jaipur, late 18th century.
On a white terrace with trees beyond, under an awning by a small pavilion, a lady looks up wistfully at the full moon.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Khwaja Khizr Khan

This 17th Century Mughal painting depicts the legendary muslim saint, Khwaja Khizr travelling on a fish, dressed in green robes and turban. 
In Islam, the colour green has associations with spirituality. The Prophet Muhammad PBUH was said to have favoured green, and in the Koran it is written that the inhabitants of Heaven will wear robes of fine green silk. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sage Kapila

Sage Kapila in his Hermitage, Illustration from the Ramayana, Kangra or Garhwal.

This miniature resembles some of the cosmographical paintings that are a feature of Indian art. The sage, like the innermost Self, sits at the centre of all things, in a state of Kaivalya (isolation, detachment).

Kapila says in the Bhagavata Purana:
"My appearance in this world is especially to explain the philosophy of Sankhya, which is highly esteemed for self-realization by those desiring freedom from the entanglement of unnecessary material desires. This path of self-realization, which is difficult to understand, has now been lost in the course of time. Please know that I have assumed this body of Kapila to introduce and explain this philosophy to human society again." (3.24.36-37)
"When one is completely cleansed of the impurities of lust and greed produced from the false identification of the body as "I" and bodily possessions as "mine," one's mind becomes purified. In that pure state he transcends the stage of so-called material happiness and distress."(3.25.16)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Seitz Collection

The Seitz Collection is one of the most important privately owned collections of Indian miniature paintings.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Ladies at night. Mughal, 1707-12, Victoria and Albert Museum

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Shamsa of Shah Jahan

Shamsa (rosette) with name and titles of Emperor Shah Jahan, Mughal, 17th c, India.

This shamsa is an exquisite example of the art of illumination in the Mughal period. The profusion and gem-like detail of the floral decoration of the rosette, set along scrolling vines, can be traced to the illumination of the late Timurid period. Known as the international Timurid style, this style features veritable gardens of flowers in its illumination. It spread as far as Ottoman lands, epitomized by the sukufe floral style of Ottoman illumination. Gold and lapis lazuli are used to rich effect here, also echoing earlier Timurid and Safavid illumination techniques.
Under Jahangir and his successor, Shah Jahan, the number of manuscripts produced by the imperial atelier was greatly reduced, resulting in fewer, and generally more elaborate, designs and manuscripts such as this.
Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Listening to Music

Listening to Music at Evening, from the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Poetic Simplicity


Thursday, April 14, 2011


(detail), Padshahnama, Mughal

The Padshahnama (Persian: پا د شاه نا مہ) (Chronicle of the Emperor) is a genre of works written as the official history of Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan’s reign. Most significant work of this genre was written by Abdul Hamid Lahori in two volumes.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Shamsa (detail), Padshahnama, Mughal

A Shamsa is an intricate sunburst design sometimes used as a decoration at the beginning of a manuscript folio intended for the eyes of a Mughal Emperor. 
The majesty of the Shahs was often compared to the pervading radiance of the sun. The design is Persian in style.

Shri Saraswati

Graham Brown, after Raja Ravi Varma

Radha Krishna


Monday, April 11, 2011

Lady Musician

Lady Playing a Musical Instrument, Guler, Himachal Pradesh, c. 1770-80.

The instrument is probably a tanpura (tambora), a lute-like instrument used to accompany singing.


(Detail) Shah Jahan Hunting, Padshahnama, c. 1645

Sunday, April 10, 2011

War Council

Ramayana, War Council, Guler, Himachal Pradesh

Friday, April 8, 2011

Berkeley Art Museum

The last image is a Persian illustration of King Solomon


Thursday, April 7, 2011


Jaimuni questions Markandeya, Garwhal c. 1785, 17.8 x 24.7 cm

A detail of this painting was used for the cover of the Penguin Classics edition of the Upanishads.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Vasant Rangini

Vasant Rangini, Subimperial Mughal, early 17th century. (detail)

Vasant refers to Spring. The painting is a celebration of this season.

Emperor Humayun

Payag (active c. 1595-1655)
Emperor Humayun seated in a landscape (detail), Mughal, c. 1650
Arthur M Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Humayun lost his Indian territories to the Pashtun noble, Sher Shah Suri, and, with Persian aid, regained them fifteen years later. Humayun's return from Persia, accompanied by a large retinue of Persian noblemen, signaled an important change in Mughal court culture, as the Central Asian origins of the dynasty were largely overshadowed by the influences of Persian art, architecture, language and literature.
Subsequently, in a very short time, Humayun was able to expand the Empire further, leaving a substantial legacy for his son, Akbar.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

V & A Museum Print Shop

The Road to Krishna, an illustration from The Krishna Sudama Series. India (Garwhal, Pahari), c.1775-90.

The Swing. Opaque watercolour on paper, in the Pahari style. Kangra, India, c.1790.


Musicians playing a raga for Raja Balwant Singh of Jasrota, c1745-50, by Nainsukh. Photograph: V&A

From the exhibition: Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts

Shri Saraswati

Shri Saraswati, Guler, c. 1850, detail

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lady Holding a Lotus