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Paintings > Persian > A Folio Illustrating an Episode from the Baburnama
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A Folio Illustrating an Episode from the Baburnama

A Folio Illustrating an Episode from the Baburnama

A Folio Illustrating an Episode from the Baburnama

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Watercolor on Paper
Artist: Navrang

7.0 inches X 10.0 inches
Item Code:
PH74
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A Folio Illustrating an Episode from the Baburnama

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This miniature, a folio portraying an episode from Babur’s life from around January, 1507 when he was traveling towards Kabul after his visit to Herat and other related sites, is an excellent work of art rendered in Mughal style as it prevailed at Akbar’s court around the last decade of the sixteenth century, especially as it revealed in Baburnama manuscript illustrated in 1599 A. D. As Babur records his memoirs in his diary, subsequently published as the Baburnama, on December 23, 1506 with a band of his army he left Herat for Kabul; however, the weather did not have a mood to cooperate and heavy snow falling all along compelled them to often give up their journey and camp. About a month passed when they crossed Bamian but as soon as they were passing through Shibartu pass, just close to reaching Jangalak, Turcoman Hazaras, a tribe of Central Asia, camping with their people and animals along his path, attacked him and his army. Hazaras had taken positions in mountains and were accomplished archers. Babur commanded his forces but his call went unheeded. Finally, he all alone turned his horse towards the attackers and charged at them. Seeing this his people also rushed and in no time Hazaras were forced to flee; however before they fled some of their men, women folk, children and sheep were captured. Babur himself had captured a few of their sheep.

The illustrator of the episode has not only elaborated but also glorified the event in accordance to Babur’s regal status. Fortresses, mosques, palaces and buildings on the top of the folio comprising the background are suggestive of Herat and the sites that Babur had visited before he marched towards Kabul. He has been painted as having elephants and camels in his army and largely a plain passage, which are not in tune with the Himalayan geography at the high altitude such as Shibartu. Not merely those carrying the auspicious Mughal standards with Yak tail surmounting them his platoon includes even the drummers and canopy-carrier. Babur has recorded as himself capturing some sheep but perhaps in tune with his regal position, the folio represents some of his men capturing them and herding them towards him. The painting abounds in minute details rendered realistically, rare excellence, dimensional effects and colour-shedding.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.


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