The incorporation of Jahangir in Indian Painting

In the meantime, getting attracted by the folk-tale based literature of India and West Asia, Emperor Akbar ordered to compose a new album in 1560 titled, Tutinama. It completed in 1565 probably now stored in the Cleveland Museum at present. 

Tutinama Album Cover.

Granting introduction of the illustrated artworks of Tutinama(1); there was a radical change occurred even in the illustration of Hamzanama. Attributing to the emotional scene in the painting, the artist created an absolute tension in all aspects that never happened before in the Indian painting. In such a way Hamzanama created a new tradition in Indian art that we never found in the earlier manuscript art or elsewhere. In the Hamzanama, the Mughal miniature painting went far beyond the Persian art that got to the bottom of the Mughal miniature. 


From 1570, a new Akbari-era had been running with new possibilities and formed numerous albums that even tough to remember for the biographer Abul Fazal! It is indeed still hard to keep the details of those paintings with date, artists name, years among other examples because in later, all were separated rapidly and placed in several museums and even in the personal collection without having any information. Although, we have limited information about those albums and related illustrations; nevertheless, it was detected by the historians that all the illustrations are performed from 1589 to 1605. 


 Here I will be happy to share some of the names of the great ancient Indian miniature artists of the Mughal Kingdom. I know, most of the Indians are not well aware of those names and concluded as 'undefined artist'. However, those artists were the pioneer of modern art and this is why Indian paintings have a specific way of modernism which was primarily ignored the reality of all means and had no need for the reformation in the basic concept. The name of those artists was, - 1. Abdus Samad 2. Abul Hassan 3. Aka Riza 4. Akil Khan 5. Beehzad (Parsian) 6. Bhabani Das, 7. Bichitra 8. Beehzad (son of Abdus Samad) 9.Dashyant 10. Gobardhan 11.Kamal Kashmiri 12. Keshu Khurd 13. Manohar 14. Meer Syed Ali 15. Miskin 16. Nayansukh 17. Ruknuddin 18. Shibden 19.Sudarshan 20. Ranjha (Indian)

Next, we have to take an entry in the period of the next emperor named Jahangir who ruled the Mughal Kingdom from 1605 to 1627. The original name was Nur-ud-din Muhammad Salim Jahangir(2)

Emperor Akbar encumbered one of his courtiers named Abdur Rahim to taught and motivated young Selim (Jahangir) on the art and culture and helped to build up his test, knowledge, and perception on artistry. Abdur Rahim was famous for his great work on 'Ramayana'. Within his professed inspection, a complete Ramayana had been made with full of outstanding illustrations. As far as I know, it is now in the conservation of the Fryer Gallery of Washington.

Profile(left side) portrait of Muhammad Jahangir

As I stated earlier, Akbar was illiterate and could not read or write and it is the reason he was interested in visual story-telling paintings or illustrations. Involving deeply in the painting intensify his passion for art, and he became a great art lover, as famed as a great ruler. Here the fact is he was not able to judge a painting by following the rules, and if we consider him as just a passionate 'art-lover'; then we have to consider Jahangir as an educated and much-experienced art-lover. His inclination was developed on proper education and practice. Moreover, he got intimate with some of the great artists of the royal court that made him a serious art critique. 


Getting discord with his father Akbar, when young prince Salim left out of the palace and started living in Allahabad from 1599 to 1604, he arranged his studio and invited some great artists in his studio to work with. At that time, so many manuscripts were composed in the studio of Jahangir which are now preserved in Chester Beatty (Dublin) and Walters Art Gallery of Baltimore (USA). 


 He already recognized as an expert art critic even in the reign of Akbar. Tuzk-e-Jahangiri the biography of Emperor Jahangir described in details about his passion for art and his wisdom, enthusiasm to create new paintings. Most of all, he succeeded in bringing together all the talented artists in his court and involved them in several paintings who were able to unfold the inner-reality of the objects by keeping up the condense of the characteristic value and beauty. In his time being, the most noticeable artists were; - Ustad Ananta, Nadir-UL-Zaman, Mansur, Muhammad Ali,

Ustad Miskin, Masud, Hunhar, Ustad Modi, Gobardhan, and Hasim. 

In the next episode, I will be continuing about the activities of Shahjahan, the son of Jahangir. 

Will continue in next episode


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** I apologize for the late-published article due to the technical problem that had been occurring for a long time. Thank you for your kind cooperation and patience. 


1. Tutinama (Persian: طوطی‌نامه‎), literal meaning "Tales of a Parrot", is a 14th-century Persian series of 52 stories. An illustrated version containing 250 miniature paintings was commissioned by the Mughal Emperor, Akbar in the later part of the 16th century. The work redacted in 14th century AD in Iran derives from an earlier anthology ‘Seventy Tales of the Parrot’ in Sanskrit compiled under the title Śukasaptati (a part of katha literature) dated to the 12th century AD. In Iran, as in India, parrots (in light of their purported conversational abilities) are popular as storytellers in works of fiction.

The adventure stories narrated by a parrot, night after night, for 52 successive nights, are moralistic stories to persuade his owner not to commit any adulterous act with any lover, in the absence of her husband. The illustrations embellishing the stories created during Akbar’s reign were created in a span of five years after Akbar ascended the throne,[6][full citation needed by two Iranian artists named Mir Sayyid Ali and Abdus Samad working in the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar.


2. Prince Salim, later Jahangir, was born on 31 August 1569, in Fatehpur Sikri, to Akbar and one of his wives Mariam-uz-Zamani, daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amber. Akbar's previous children had died in infancy and he had sought the help of holy men to produce a son. Salim was named for one such man, Shaikh Salim, though Akbar always called him Shekhu Baba.

Prince Salim succeeded to the throne on Thursday, 3 November 1605, eight days after his father's death. Salim ascended to the throne with the title of Nur-ud-din Muhammad Jahangir Badshah Ghazi and thus began his 22-year reign at the age of 36. Jahangir soon after had to fend off his own son, Prince Khusrau Mirza, when the latter attempted to claim the throne based on Akbar's will to become his next heirs. Khusrau Mirza was defeated in 1606 and confined in the fort of Agra. As punishment, Khusrau Mirza was handed over to his younger brother and was partially blinded and killed.

Jahangir considered his third son Prince Khurram (future Shah Jahan), his favourite. In 1622, Khurram murdered his blind older brother, Khusrau Mirza, in order to smooth his own path to the throne.



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Last updated on - 25.09.2023