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Bahadur Shah Zafar : Calligraphy (3)

Mirza Firuz Shah
Art and Calligraphy
Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857

Bahadur Shah Zafar : Calligraphy (3)



A CALLIGRAPHIC COMPOSITION BY BAHADUR SHAH ZAFAR, INDIA, MID 19TH CENTURY Ink and gouache heightened with gold on paper, the bold black calligraphy filled with elegant white scrolling and flowering vine, the interstices with trefoils, palmettes and lozenges filled with scrolling arabesques, larger areas with similar decoration above and below, the bottom of the composition with a red inscription giving the name of the scribe as Muhammad Abu Zafar Saraj al-Din Bahadur Shah Ghazi, the panel within gold rules, later inscription below, the reverse with blue and red pencil annotations and a trade label, area of water staining. 11in. x 8½in. (28 x 21.5cm.) Bahadur Shah Zafar was the last Mughal Emperor of Delhi, and one of the most talented and tolerant of his dynasty. Born in 1775, when the British were still clinging to the Indian shore, he had in his lifetime seen the Mughals reduced to political insignificance as the British transformed themselves from vulnerable traders into an aggressive colonial government. Zafar was himself a mystic, poet, and calligrapher of accomplishment, but his finest achievement was to nourish the talents of two of the greatest Urdu poets: poet Ghalib (1797–1869), and his rival Zauq (1789–1854). While the British progressively took over more and more of the Emperor’s power, the court busied itself in obsessive pursuit of the most perfect Urdu couplet.

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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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