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Babur meets Khanzada Begam and other ladies at Qunduz

December 31, 1510
Mirza Firuz Shah
Ulugh Beg II 1507–1526




Babur meets Khanzada Begam and other ladies at Qunduz. Shaibani Khan came into conflict with Safavai ruler Shah Isma‘il who defeated and slew him at Merv on 2 December 1510. On receiving this news Babur immediately set out from Kabul and arrived at Qunduz in January 1511, where he was received by Khan Mirza, son of Sultan Ahmad Mirza. Shortly after Khanzada Begam arrived accompanied by Shah Isma‘il’s envoy and joined Babur. Khan-zada Begim was in Merv when Shah Isma‘il (Safawi) defeated the Auzbegs near that town (916 AH/1510AD); for my sake he treated her well, giving her a sufficient escort to Qunduz where she rejoined me. We had been apart for some ten years; when Muhammadi kukuldash and I went to see her, neither she nor those about her knew us, although I spoke. They recognized us after a time. It is a ‘one-scene’ illustration with a clever use of receptacles, here tents and awnings, that divide the picture plane into units filled with activities related to the central theme. The foreground is busily occupied by the retainers of Babur. In the simple structure of this painting the artist has successfully defi ned the openness of the spaces by the enclosing qanats. The main action is repre-sented in a pavilion with hangers-on outside. He breaks up the space with receptacles and leads the eye to the central figures. The present miniature ascribed to Mansur is notable for the likeness of Babur derived from his existing portrait. This sensitive, three-quarter view of Babur may be the very picture that pro-vided the model for numerous likenesses, such as those made for the Baburnama illustrations. It would be relevant to mention that the likenesses of the royal ladies are ideal types and not an authentic representation of them (Verma 1978, 31–2, pl.25; also in his 2005, 767). An earliest solo work of Mansur, heavily burdened with the characteristics of the sixteenth-century Mughal art of book illustration in Akbar’s atelier, hardly incorporates in it signs of Mansur’s individuality. Nevertheless, the noticeable thing in this example is the use of deep pigments and contrasts, which was discarded soon by Mansur in favour of soothing and calm colours for achieving through their harmonious blends the subdued background and openness in his compositions, which he continues throughout. Thin shading employed to model Babur’s face shows an attempt to achieve realism. Folds depicted in flowing costumes further show the painter’s capability to handle delicate shading, which was a typical virtuosity of the Western technique.


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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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