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The magician, disguised as a Brahman, visits the king of Babylon, from a Tuti-nama (Tales of a Parrot): Thirty-fifth Night

June 30, 1556
Akbar 1556–1605




The magician, disguised as a Brahman, visits the king of Babylon, from a Tuti-nama (Tales of a Parrot): Thirty-fifth Night c. 1560 Part of a set. See all set records Mughal India, reign of Akbar (1556–1605) Gum tempera, ink, and gold on paper Overall: 20.3 x 14 cm (8 x 5 1/2 in.); Painting only: 12.5 x 10.1 cm (4 15/16 x 4 in.) Gift of Mrs. A. Dean Perry 1962.279.232.b DID YOU KNOW? The transformed Brahman, who is in the form of the woman, carries a magical bead in his mouth. DESCRIPTION The king of Babylon, seated on a throne, receives the Brahman in the form of a woman and the magician in the form of a Brahman. The king agrees to keep the woman (the transformed Brahman) temporarily in his harem as a favor to the Brahman (the disguised magician). Scholars have identified this image as a portrait of Akbar, the third Mughal emperor of India, and the commissioner of this manuscript. He is thought to be identifying himself as the king of Babylon, regarded in the Islamic world as an ancient center of power and culture. In this story, however, the king fell victim to the trickery of his own daughter, her lover, and the magician, making one wonder why Akbar would choose to portray himself in this guise. The identification of this image as a portrait of Akbar remains unresolved. PROVENANCE Estate of Breckenridge Long, Bowie, MD, 1959; Harry Burke Antiques, Philadelphia, PA; Bernard Brown, Milwaukee, WI; EXHIBITION HISTORY Indian Gallery 242 Rotation – April-November 2018. The Cleveland Museum of Art (organizer) (April 2-November 18, 2018).

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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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