The History of Indian Mughal Miniature Painting

Part - 5

Apart from the ornamental design, the illustrations that describe the game of hunting were also noteworthy in Mughal miniature art. The subject was a favorite of the royal artists. It got understood that those paintings ordered by the emperor, wherein the fervor and efficiency of the emperor, should be vindicated. Probably, artists were also the coadjutor in the hunting team of the emperor.

Emperor Shah Jahan

 The landscapes of these paintings were quite soulful yet pursued practical experience, which persuades attention. The main significance of the Mughal miniature is, you can distinguish each object clearly and even each leaf of the tree! In the diary of emperor Jahangir, we found a funny story, which was described in the previous write-up titled, The Preeminence of Shah Jahan in Mughal Painting. In That story, it has proved that the perfection in Indian miniature art got the highest level in the reign of Jahangir, which was unmatched in all terms. In his reign, the entire country had a peaceful environment, and the royal court was full of flamboyant. As an outcome, earlier artists of the royal court who loved to paint the scene of battle changed the subject and were passionate to demonstrate the luster as well as the flamboyance of the royal court. In the earlier miniature paintings, vibrating gorgeous colors turned into soberness, which formed a pleasant mood. The style of composition of the Mughal miniature also proved its intelligence. As an outcome, the rich line drawing that followed the traditional oriental manner also adopted the modeling of substance with stylish brushwork to convey the totality of any object. Besides that, restraint in using colors was born in such a way, which did not hamper the importance of line drawing.  In the reign of Shah Jahan, the subject of the painting got versatile, and the number of great artists increased together. Some of those were, Chitraman (Kalyan Das), Anupchatar (Roy Anup), Muhammad Nadir Samarqandi, Mir Hasim, Manohar, Muhammad Fakirullah Khan, etc. Most of the best paintings in the reign of Shah Jahan are now stored in the British Museum and we Indians miss it out. 


Not a doubt, in the reign of Shah Jahan, Indian Mughal miniature painting got the highest destination, yet at the same time, it lost its strength. The sun had its top, but the set down had been starting alongside. The Architecture, that was considered just incredible, but unfortunately, the decay in Indian miniature painting had been starting with it. But still, we could say, most of the great Indian Mughal miniature paintings were composed in the reign of Shah Jahan.

Portrait of Dara Shikoh

 At the time of the cessation of this reign, the deterioration in Mughal painting was just like a gesture of destruction of the Mughal kingdom. Yes, it is. Dara Shikoh, the elder son of Shah Jahan was a good art enthusiast, but to have the throne of the next emperor, he indulged in the battle with his brother named Aurangzeb, and after defeating, he left away to a desolate desert of Sindh, with some of his confidential attendants. During that dread time, he got informed by one of his emissaries about the death of his most loved wife. That spy detailed how his wife succumbed to the massive heat of sunlight in the summer without having a drop of water. Dara Shikoh fainted hearing such a tearful story.


Finally, Aurangzeb, the son of Shah Jahan, got the throne of the emperor by slaughtering all of his brothers. Aurangzeb was a radical Muslim; hence it is clearly guessed that his racism will susceptive on the cultural side of the Mughal kingdom. Yes, it was.  He considered painting is anti-Islamic, and hence, it should be demolished. Although the courtier still appreciated paintings, however, without having the support of the emperor, it had been dimming away.

Portrait of Aurangzeb

 Bernier, who visited India during the reign of Aurangzeb, inscribed a description of that epoch. In his words, - ‘does it really awestruck where no development occurs in art if such a poor administrative condition leaves out in the cold all the efforts? But it could progress just like in France. Here people are either too poor or like to be demonstrated as poor who are looking for cheap by compromising with quality and artistry. They whimsically pay for any artwork and have no idea about art. They even thrash poor artists for their asking price; in such a position, how will an artist survive? If an artist infers about his future, which will be out of any honor or appreciation, will they go ahead further? Oriental artists admire rich businessmen who often reimburse a bite more for painting than others. Otherwise, they work only to exist and to avoid the thrashing they earn in return for their asking price! Don't mean that they composed those beautiful paintings to earn honor and rewards'.

 It is true because all the courtiers and other officials were not well educated, and they were unable to differentiate between office staff and an artist. 


Will continue in next episode

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Image Resource - Portrait of Shah Jahan, Portrait of Aurangzeb, (Public domain)

    Portrait of Dara Shikoh - www.sothebys.com 




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Last updated on - 07.12.2023