Young Akbar Recognizes His Mother

After he was overthrown and ousted from Delhi in 1540, Emperor Humayun and his family sought refuge in Iran. His son Akbar was born on the long journey. The baby, left in the care of attendants for safety, rejoined his parents only three years later. Humayun, curious whether Akbar would recognize his mother, arranged a test for the child. Although she entered the court without fanfare, Akbar immediately ran into his mother’s arms. This remarkable act of recognition is included in the Akbarnama as early evidence of the emperor’s greatness.

Young Akbar Recognizes His Mother From an Akbarnama (Book of Akbar)
Attributed to Madhava (act. 1582–ca. 1624)
India, Mughal dynasty, ca. 1596–1600
Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper
Freer Gallery of Art F1939.57