Smithsonian Freer Gallery Sackler Gallery National Museum of Asian Art Gallery Guide to the Understanding South Asian Art
Introductionpage 1page 2page 3page 4 page 5 page 6 Sculpturepage 1page 2Paintingpage 1page 2page 3page 4
When the Mughal emperors—Muslim Turks from Central Asia—came to power in 1526, they introduced the vertical page format of the Persian world. Court artists during the reign of Emperor Akbar (ruled 1556–1605) adapted elements from indigenous Indian as well as Persian and European art to create a superb and unique style of painting. Mughal court portraiture combined the naturalistic rendering of individual physiognomies with symbols of rank and status. The portraits were mounted with elaborate borders and bound into imperial albums or given as gifts to cement political alliances. Other important subjects of Mughal painting include dynastic histories, Persian literature, and Hindu epics.
next page

Jahangir Preferring a Sufi Shaikh to Kings, by Bichitr
Jahangir Preferring a Sufi Shaikh to Kings
by Bichitr (act. 1615–50)
India, Mughal period, ca. 1660–70
Opaque watercolor, gold, and ink on paper
25.3 x 18.1 cm (10 x 7 1/8 in.)
Purchase    F1942.15a

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art
Exhibition List | Online Exhibitions

All presented material is copyright © Smithsonian Institution, 2008 except where otherwise noted.