Arts of the Book: Illustrated Texts, Miniatures
Probably the Hijaz (Arabia)
Dated 1192 H/1778-79 CE
Materials and technique
Ink, opaque watercolour and silver on paper
85 x 44.5 cm
Completion of the pilgrimage (hajj) was a source of great pride and often marked by an illustrated certificate. If a person were physically unable to accomplish the hajj, because of disease or a handicap for example, he could ask someone to bring him a certificate. This example depicts a schematic view of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, with the Ka'ba in the centre, draped with the black curtain (kiswa). The Persian text below the large illustration reveals that this certificate belonged to one Bibi Khanum, who required the services of a certain Sayyid 'Ali Wali to perform the pilgrimage. The certificate is dated at the bottom of the text and includes the seal of Sayyid 'Ali, guaranteeing the performance of the hajj rites. The painting’s exact provenance remains a mystery, but similar works with fanciful onion-shaped domes and texts in Persian, the former literary language of many Indian Muslims, have been attributed to Indian draughtsman working ‘on site’ in the Hijaz (Rogers et al. 1999, pp. 80-83).
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