The depiction of flora and fauna has been an intrinsic part of Indian painting traditions. The Mughals in their turn in their fascination paintings used the bird and animal imagery to lend a special quality to their art of painting. This book with over 70 illustrations is a survey of the birds and animals used in Mughal paintings especially during the reigns of emperors Akbar and Jahangir, with historical details it shows that the depiction of various kinds of birds and animals played a significant role in conformity with the context or the demands of the narratives. The artists painted both wild and domestic animals with equal competence. Outlining the differences in the paintings under the mughal rulers themselves with regard to depiction of fauna it notes that while Akbar was interested in historical mythological or anecdotal events Jahangir introduced album paintings and evinced interest in individual portrait studies of fauna. In all it showcases the meticulous depiction of fauna in Mughal art and its persevering beauty. It mentions the names of a hose of artists who executed the paintings and the many illustrated manuscripts – mythological historical and on popular fables that as lavish use of paintings with faunal imagery. The book will interest historians especially those studying art history of the medieval period.
Dr. Zaheda Khanam (b.1971) is a born artist. She had her education mostly in Varanasi. After obtaining BA and BEd degrees form Banaras Hindu University she did her masters in fine arts from Aligarh Muslim University with a first division and received her doctorate from the BHU under the supervision of Prof. T.K. Biswas. Her parents are educationists her mother Hamida Khanam has established the Modern Education Junior School in Varanasi.
Zaheda as a painter tries to express their dissatisfaction with the social conditions prevailing around her. Her expression being symbolic and powerful is devoid of unnecessary details and the colors dominant in the expression are subdued. She has exhibited her paintings at various reputed institutions in Uttar Pradesh and received several awards as well.
As a part of my final examination in M.A (Painting) in the Aligarh Muslim University I produced a dissertation on portraits in Mughal Miniatures. While working on that project I cam across fascinating painting on flora and fauna prepared under the Imperial Mughal and I decided to work on these subjects if I could get a chance for Ph. D thesis. When I approached my supervisor Dr. T.K. Biswas and informed him about my interest he readily acceded to my request in 1997.
There are ample books and articles published on Mughal miniatures and a select bibliography is appended here. In March 1999 Marg published a special issue on Flora and Fauna in Mughal Art edited by S.P Verma. This monograph has bee a collection of some research articles by eminent scholars in the field but these are stray articles and deal in specific aspects of flora and fauna during the entire span of Mughal art.
Earlier K. de B Cordington wrote in the geographical magazine CIV London in 1944 the animals in art part II (painting) M. Blunt contributed in Burlington Magazine no. XC (1948) a paper on the Mughal painters of natural History.
Prof. S.K. Saraswati in 1948 wrote an article entitled the birds in mughal art in Marg 11.2 and M.A Ansari worked on the hunts of the great Mughals in IC, XXXIV 1960 Dr. Moti Chandra presented a paper on the white elephant in Lalit kala nos 1-2 New Delhi 1955-56. in the journal of the Bombay natural history society vols. XXXI-XXXII salim Ali contributed an article on the mughal emperors of India as naturalists and sportsmen in M.A Ali and A. Rehman Jahangir The great Naturalist New Delhi 1968 Robert Skelton wrote an article on Two Mughal Lion Hunts in Victoria and Albert Museum’s yearbook I in 1968 and Catherine Glynn presented and article on an early Mughal landscape painting and related works in the Los Angles Country Museum Bulletin in 1974.
The books and journals noted above do not offer a systematic study of birds and animals with particular reference to Akbar and Jahangiri period (CE 1556-1627). In the books and journals on Mughal miniature this topic has been approached mostly from the point of view of history of art recording thereby certain glorious events or achievements of the rulers including certain fantasies while the aesthetic parts of the painting have not been dealt with satisfactorily.
Keeping some of these things in mind the present scholar restricted herself to a given period i.e. CE 1556-1627 so that an in-depth search could be made to study the nature of painted materials their historical backdrop chronological sequences artistic analysis and to see that and aesthetic appraisal could be made.
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