Arts of the Book: Illustrated Texts, Miniatures
Congregation Of Birds
Mughal, 17th century CE
Materials and technique
Opaque watercolour and ink on paper
Page 28.5 x 38.2 cm; Image 14.2 x 20.2 cm
A variety of large and small birds, including peacocks, turkeys, mallard ducks, ostriches, parrots, pheasants, partridges, blackcaps, ringed plovers, hoopoes, avocets and a flamingo stand together, some as pairs, in this tinted drawing which has been mounted on a cream-coloured album folio. A lightly drawn landscape with hills and small buildings along a high horizon does little to distract from the focus of this work: the detailed, almost scientific representation of birds. The Mughal Emperor Jahangir (r. 1605-27 CE) was known for his keen interest in the natural depiction of flora and fauna. His memoirs and albums attest to this passion. Several Mughal artists became specialist painters of flowers, animals or birds, such as Mansur, whom Jahangir called Nadir al-'Asr, ‘Rarity of the Age’.
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