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Firman of the Emperor Aurangzeb 1661-62

March 31, 1661
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National archives of India
Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857
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Firman of the Emperor Aurangzeb 1661-62

Mughal dynasty Ink,

color, and gold on paper H: 110.0 W: 47.5 cm India


The firman—dated to Aurangzeb's fourth regnal year, corresponding to A.H. 1072/A.D. 1661-62—is written in clear and legible nast'liq and consists of fourteen lines of text. It begins with an elegant "basmallah" written in gold thuluth at the top. Aurangzeb's tugrha or signature giving his name and titles appears below the "basmallah," and a round seal is placed to its right. The seal bears the date of Aurangzeb's coronation, A.H. 1069/A.D. 1658-59 and includes the emperor's name in the center surrounded by smaller medallions giving his lineage, beginning with Timur.

The firman, written on A.H. 25th Jumadi II of 1072/A.D. 15 February 1662, is adressed to Jasvant Singh, the Raj of Marwar, in response to a petition (arzdasht) he had sent to Aurangzeb earlier that month (A.H. 8 Jumadi II/A.D. 29 January) from Aurangabad. In the present decree, Aurangzeb orders Jasvant Singh to remain in Aurangabad and gather and organize his troops, which included muskateers. (The purpose of this order is unclear from the text.)

In addition to its subtle aesthetic qualities, the decree is of considerable historical interest. Jasvant Singh played an important role in the Mughal war of succession that broke out between Shah Jahan's sons, Dara Shikoh, Shah Shuja, Murad Bakhsh, adn Aurangzeb, following the emperor's illness in 1657. Fighting on Dara's side, Jasvant Singh's forces were badly beaten by Aurangzib in 1658. Following his defeat, the raja changed sides and joined Aurangzeb. This allegiance, however, did not prevent him from commiting treachery and attacking Aurangzeb's forces at Khajuha in 1659. Jasvant Singh changed sides again and offered to join forces with Dara to rescue Shah Jahan, who had been inprisoned in Agra. At this point, Aurangzeb intervened and promised to forgive Jasvant Singh and honor him with a high post. If he decided to refuse his offer, however, he would be subject to severe retribution. The emperor continued to show favors to Jasvant Singh until his death in 1678—a fact also confirmed by the firman. Following the raja's death, Aurangzeb seized the foremost Hindu state or Marwar and placed it under Mughal rule.

This firman is the earliest of the published ones and is the first acquisition of its kind for the Sackler Gallery.

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