Mughal miniatures are a vivid account of the cultural, sociopolitical scenario of the Mughal era. Jalal-ud-Din Muhammad Akbar, the most powerful Mughal emperor, was a great aesthete and promoter of arts. Eminent Persian and Indian artists thronged his Royal Studio and were encouraged to paint numerous emotive miniatures of style and substance, communicating highly complex narratives. These miniatures are a beautiful manifestation of human expressions, vividly encapsulating moments of history for posterity.
This book combines the sources and methodology of history and art history of the Mughal era, and is an analysis of a select group of paintings of Akbar's reign. The miniature paintings incorporate a wide variety of rich, vibrant and varied themes, ranging from durbar scenes, depicting Akbar in different moods and forms, the princes and nobles in their finery, hunting and battle scenes, elaborate scenes of royal births, construction scenes, ascetics, common man, and countryside scenes, to the flora and fauna. Individual analyses of these miniatures, shows the manner of their composition and the inherent value of their sociocultural content in a lively manner. These paintings became a passion and a diversion for Akbar, who had an innate aesthetic sense.
However, there are hardly any true-to-life paintings of women of the royal seraglio. This book thus attempts to cover some images of femininity, whether it is of Queen Alanquwa, Akbar's mother, or of Madonna as sacred mothers, and women, per se, in different roles. These miniatures make one wonder how much these women contributed to the life of Mughal India.
This unique volume, having given transliteration and translation of the original Persian text of the miniatures, provides an insight into Akbar as an aesthete, and will help academics and laymen alike in appreciating the beauty and history of Akbar's period.
List of Plates
1. Chapter I: Akbar the Aesthete
2. Chapter II: The New Genre Miniatures
3. Chapter III: Illustrations and Their Descriptions Annotated Glossary