Arts of the Book: Illustrated Texts, Miniatures
Mansucript Of The Kulliyat Of Sa'Di
Mughal, c.1604 CE
Materials and technique
Opaque watercolour, gold and ink on paper
Page 41.8 x 26.6 cm
This painting demonstrates another form of kingly power, that of benevolence. A king arrives on his dappled grey steed to forgive the man who had cursed him in anger when his ass became stuck in a mire. The man is shown o the right with upraised fist and the ass is still trapped. Instead of killing the man, as the king’s men had suggested, the beneficient king gives the pathetic man gold, a horse and a fur coat. The illustration is taken from the second chapter (“On Beneficience”) of the Bustan, in the collected works (“kulliyat”), of Musharrif al-Din Sa‛di (d. 1292 CE), the beloved Persian poet. The present manuscript (195 folios) was copied by ‛Abd al-Rahim al-Haravi, ‛Anbarin Qalam’, as indicated on the colophon. Patron, date and place of production are not given, but folio 1a contains the seal of Shah Jahan. The paintings are assigned to around 1604 CE, immediately preceding the time of Akbar’s death and Jahangir’s ascension to the throne. This painting is characteristic of late Akbari painting with its composition of numerous small-scale figures and its little variety of facial expressions.
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