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Asain History

By | November 2012
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One of the key elements that define the great Indian tradition around the 17th Century is the art of the Mughals this happened after the death of Akbar, architect of the Mughal Empire and active patron of the arts, his son Jahangir ascended to the throne. As a prince, Jahangir had established his own atelier in Allahabad and had strong artistic tastes, preferring a single painter to work on an image rather than the collaborative method of Akbar’s time. He also encouraged careful plant and animal studies, and prized realistic portraiture and Europeanized subjects. The books Jahangir commissioned ranged from literary works such as the Razmnama (a Persian translation of the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata) to historical texts, including an illustrated version of the memoirs of his reign, the Tuzuk-i Jahangiri. But more common from his era are lavishly finished albums containing paintings and calligraphy samples mounted onto pages with decorative borders and then bound with covers of stamped and gilded or painted and lacquered leather. If he could not obtain a work he wanted, he had it copied, and at one time dispatched an artist to Iran to paint a likeness of Shah Abbas. Jahangir’s claim that he could instantly recognize any painter’s work is a reflection of the rise of the individual artist. Many signatures are preserved on works from this period, with such masters as Bishan Das, Manohar, Abu’l-Hasan, Govardhan, and Daulat emerging as recognizable artistic personalities. Jahangir’s successor Shah Jahanis most celebrated for his architectural achievements, the Taj Mahal being his (and perhaps the country’s) best known monument. He commissioned this tomb for his wife after her death in 1631 and it took sixteen years to complete. The building is set on the bank of the Jumna River in Agra with a formal eightfold garden and reflecting pools in front, its elevation of inlaid white marble striking against the red sandstone of the other buildings in the complex. After moving...

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