Print on paper in color and gold. Circa mid-17th century (height: 53.4 cm, width: 36.9 cm).



Shah Jahan (1592-1666), the fifth ruler of the Mughal Empire and the creator of the Taj Mahal, is riding upon his royal horse on the rugged banks of the river Jamuna. Taj Mahal is not built, yet. Following the Christian tradition introduced to the Mughal court by the Jesuit missionaries at the time of Akhbar, the Emperor appears like a saint with a halo around his head. Four angels, two on each side of the divine effulgence, descend from the heavenly clouds. The angel on the right counteracts the sharpness of the Emperor's spear with the sweetness of music flowing from the trumpet. The second angel on the right is putting the third necklace on the shoulder of the Emperor. The second angel on the left is offering a crown, and the angel at the extreme left is holding...

Not much is known about the painting. The unknown author singed at the bottom as `Amal Khurram', which literally means `work of Khurram'. Khurram (Persian, `Joyful') is the birth-name of Shah Jahan, given to him by his grandfather, Akhbar.

A painting of Shah Jahan in a similar style and probably from the same period, is at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C.; in that painting, the Emperor stands on a globe, with three angels appearing from the clouds, offering him a crown, canopy, and an ornamented sword.

The framed copy of this painting was given to me as a gift by Thomas Arena from New York, in March 2009. The copy was in his possession for over forty years. Mr. Arena could not recall from whom or where he bought the painting. If any one has more information on this painting or the whereabouts of the original work, kindly contact us.

-- Joseph J. Palackal


Iconography in the Painting



CMSI No.-007-10.1
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