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Shamsa (sunburst) with portrait of Aurangzeb (1618-1707), from the Emperor's Album (the Kevorkian Album)

December 31, 1657
Aurangzeb 1658–1707

Shamsa (sunburst) with portrait of Aurangzeb (1618-1707), from the Emperor's Album (the Kevorkian Album)



hamsa (sunburst) with portrait of Aurangzeb (1618-1707), from the Emperor's Album (the Kevorkian Album) illumination 1640–55; original portrait c. 1640–50; altered after 1658 probably by Bichitr (Indian, active c. 1615–50) Opaque watercolor and gold on paper Page: 40 x 27.7 cm (15 3/4 x 10 7/8 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 2013.331 DID YOU KNOW? Tooling the gold cloud motif with pinpricks makes it catch more light and shimmer. DESCRIPTION This closing page of an imperial Mughal album originally had the shamsa, or sunburst, with a plain gold disc in the center, referencing the light of God as divine sanction for Emperor Shah Jahan’s rule. The depiction of divine light by means of floral and geometric patterns was painted by hand with mathematical precision in gold and lapis lazuli. The portrait of Aurangzeb was probably added when he took over the imperial library after seizing the throne from his father, Shah Jahan, in 1658 and adopting the name Alamgir, which means “Seizer of the Universe.” The string of prayer beads in his right hand points to his extreme religious orthodoxy, which dramatically altered the culture of the Mughal court from what had previously been an openly ecumenical center. INSCRIPTION inscribed below Shamsa: Padshah Jahan; inscribed below portrait : 'amal-i Bichitr INSCRIPTION Persian inscription below shamsa (sunburst), in nasta‘liq script: Great King Shah Jahan INSCRIPTION Persian inscription below portrait, in nasta‘liq script: the work of Bichitr EXHIBITION HISTORY Main Asian Rotation (Gallery 245); December 31, 2013 - June 30, 2014. The Cleveland Museum of Art (7/31/2016-10/23/2016); Art and Stories from Mughal India, cat. 58, p. 237-38. Art and Stories from Mughal India. The Cleveland Museum of Art (organizer) (July 31-October 23, 2016).

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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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