Front cover of the Gulshan Album

Jahangir’s refined and eclectic taste is revealed in the sumptuous Gulshan (Rose garden) Album. The exceptional quality of the album and the extensive world with which it shows Jahangir to have been in contact were important expressions of his claim to imperial authority.

Its painted lacquer covers, the finest known from Mughal India, have an overall design of fluid energy. Scenes on the front cover include Europeans dining outdoors, and imperial huntsmen -- Jahangir and his father, Akbar, might well be among them.

Production on the album began around 1595, a decade before Jahangir succeeded to the Mughal throne. The ambitious project was ultimately completed during the reign of his son Shah Jahan, whose official poet wrote the Persian verses in AH 1041 (1631–32 CE).

Front cover of the Gulshan Album
India, Mughal dynasty, ca. 1595–1632
Opaque watercolor, gold, and ink with lacquer on pasteboard
Freer Gallery of Art F1999.2a