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Squirrels in a Plane Tree

December 31, 1604
Mirza Firuz Shah
Animals and Plants
Jahangir 1605–1627

Squirrels in a Plane Tree



Why is the eager hunter climbing the tree? Does he really believe he can catch squirrels bare handed? Or is he the artist’s symbol of foolish, wicked man bent on destroying innocent nature? Knowing of Jahangir’s interest in strange happenings, the man may indeed be a virtuoso of the chase. If the subject of the painting is baffling, its rank as a masterpiece of natural history picture is not. Such subjects were favored in Mughal India. According to the Memoirs of Jouher, a servant of Humayun, a beautiful bird once flew into the imperial tent and “his Majesty . . . took a pair of scissor and cut some of the feathers off the animal; he sent for a painter, and had a picture taken of the bird, and afterwards ordered it to be released.’’ (Jouher, The Tezkereh al Vakiat, tr. by Maj. Charles Stewart, Santiago de Compostella, Spain, N.I). While there are earlier examples of the genre, it was not until the reign of Jahangir that flora and fauna painting reached the degree of naturalism seen here, in which every beady eye, hungrily eager look, and springing tail is recorded with loving perfection. The attribution of this picture is problematic, for an inscription on the back assigns it to “Abu’l Hasan, Nadir al-Asr,’’which combines Abul's name with the title of another artist, Mansur. Conceivably both worked on it, although the squirrels are so roundly treated and with such painterly, as opposed to draughtsmanly, qualities that we tend to see the squirrels as Abu’l Hasan’s work. To Read More Visit This Book Link Mughal Library

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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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