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A Courtier, Possibly Khan Alam, Holding a Spinel and a Deccan Sword

June 30, 1556
Akbar 1556–1605

A Courtier, Possibly Khan Alam, Holding a Spinel and a Deccan Sword



A Courtier, Possibly Khan Alam, Holding a Spinel and a Deccan Sword c. 1605–10 Part of a set. See all set records attributed to Govardhan (Indian, active c.1596-1645) calligrapher Abd al-Rahim, the Anbarin-Qalam (Indian, active c. 1590–1630) Mughal India Gum tempera, ink, and gold on paper, text on verso Page: 17.8 x 12.5 cm (7 x 4 15/16 in.) Gift in honor of Madeline Neves Clapp; Gift of Mrs. Henry White Cannon by exchange; Bequest of Louise T. Cooper; Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund; From the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 2013.323 DESCRIPTION According to Akbar's court historian, the emperor ordered likenesses to be taken of the grandees of his realm. "An immense album was thus formed: those that have passed away have received a new life, and those who are still alive have immortality promised them." Akbar's son and successor, Jahangir (reigned 1605-27), continued the tradition of commissioning works of lifelike portraiture for inclusion in imperial albums. This courtier wears an opulent fur-trimmed, fringed velvet coat over his belted white tunic and striped pants-the typical Mughal dress derived from their roots among the nomadic horse-riding people of Central Asia. The artist has reveled in creating the soft textures of the facial hair, fur and fabrics. He holds a ruby-like gemstone called a spinel, which was prized among the Mughals for its talismanic properties of protection during battle. INSCRIPTION Verso: A tahshiyya (marginal addendum) in rhymed prose from the Gulistan (Rose Garden) of Sa‘di (Persian, 1210–1291) and the Nafahat al-Uns (Breaths of Fellowship) of Abd al-Rahman Jami (Persian, 1414–1492), c. 1605, Abd al-Rahim, the Anbarin-Qalam (Indian, active c. 1590–1630), Mughal court; In nast’aliq script: O Lord of the all dominions Praise and thanks to God—may he be honored and glorified!—whose worship brings one closer to him and giving thanks [to him] increases his bounty. [Each breath] that one inhales, prolongs life, and when exhaled a rejuvenation of the soul. Thus each breath contains two blessings, and on each blessing gratitude is due. Who is able, by word or deed, to fulfill the task of paying him due thanks? It is more apt for his slaves to seek at the Divine court pardon for their shortcomings, for what truly is worth his lordship none can render adequately. Persian verses from the Nafahat al-uns quoting a poem by the mystic Sheikh Ruzbihan of Shiraz (Persian, 1128–1209), in nast’aliq script: That which has not been visible to the eye of time; That which has not been audible to the ears of the earth; Has manifested itself in the clay of my being. Come at once and see it in my clay.This page has been written as marginalia to the book Mir’at al-quds [Mirror of Holiness],written by the wretched Abd al-Rahim Anbarin-Qalam, may God forgive his sins. PROVENANCE ?-November 1985 (Terence McInerney Fine Arts, New York, NY, sold to Ralph and Catherine Glynn Benkaim) November 1985-2013 Ralph Benkaim [1914-2001] and Catherine Glynn Benkaim [b. 1946], Beverly Hills, CA, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art 2013- The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH

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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.


The Mughal Images immediately took a much greater interest in realistic portraiture than was typical of Persian miniatures. Animals and plants were the main subject of many miniatures for albums and were more realistically depicted. To upload your images click here.

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