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Shah Jahan Watching an Elephant Fight, Folio from a Padshahnama

December 31, 1638
Religion and Festival
Shah Jahan 1627–1658




In this page from the Padshahnama, the artist has created a unified space stretching from the foreground, where goaders are milling, to the top of the scene, where the emperor and his two sons are shown in profile at an open tripartite window. Although the white and red walls of the fort are unmodulated planes, the placement of figures before them gives a sense of spatial recession. The dynamism of the elephant combat balances the impassive family portraits. While the courtiers in the upper tier turn their backs on the melee to face the royals, and the lower figures seem more concerned with the combat, curiously, none of them look directly at the object of their attention, somewhat diminishing the work's psychological intensity. Nevertheless, the artist subtly suggests that the emperor, under his gilded roof, is the lord of all beneath him.
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Ismail Mazari

average rating is null out of 5

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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