Main Article Content
This paper addresses the making of portrait-images of Mughal emperors, in which distinctness and particularity in individual features distinguished portraits of emperor Akbar from his ancestors and successors. Scholars have argued that the technique of ‘accurate’ portraits or mimesis was introduced to Mughal artists with the arrival of renaissance paintings and prints from Europe, brought by Jesuit priests to the Mughal court. However, the question of why Mughal emperors saw a need to arrive at portraiture in the likeness of individuals remains to be addressed. This paper argues that the desire to portray a ruler, in all his individual particularity, can arise only within a literary and intellectual matrix in which the individual is valued and where ideas about selfhood and subjectivity have already permeated the philosophical, political, and literary thought. Tracing the transhistorical and transcultural migration of ideas and motifs from Timurid Central Asia to Mughal India, this paper examines the transference of Sufi thought on image-making practices, particularly portraiture, in the imperial court of the Mughals in early seventeenth century.
Keywords: Portrait-images of Akbar, subjectivity, Sufi thought, poetics between text and image.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Barry, Michael. Figurative Art in Medieval Islam and the Riddle of Bihzad of Herat (1465-1535). Paris: Flammarion, 2004.
Beach, Milo Cleveland. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court. Washington D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1981.
Braginsky, V. I. “Universe - Man - Text; The Sufi Concept of Literature (with Special Reference to Malay Sufism)”, Bijdragen tot de taal-, land- en volkenkunde / Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia 149, 2, 1993. doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/22134379-90003124.
Chittick, William C. “Ebn al-‘Arabi Mohyi-al- Din Abu ‘Abd-Allah Mohammad Ta’i Hatemi.” Encyclopedia Iranica, 1996.
-----. “The Perfect Man as the Prototype of the Self in the Sufism of Jami”, Studia Islamica 49, 1979.
Darling, Linda T. “The Renaissance and the Middle East”, in Guido Ruggiero (ed.), A Companion to the Worlds of the Renaissance. Hoboken, New Jersey: Blackwell Publishing, 2002.
Gallerkina, Olimpiade. “On Some Miniatures Attributed to Bihzad in the Leningrad Collection”, Ars Orientalis 8, 1970.
Losty, Jeremiah P. and Roy, Malini. Mughal India: Art, Culture, and Empire: Manuscripts and Paintings in the British Library. London: The British Library, 2012.
Martin, F. R. “Two Portraits by Behzad, the Greatest Painter of Persia”, The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 15, no. 73, April 1909.
Moin, A. Azfar. “The Millennial Sovereign: The Troubled Unveiling of the Savior Monarch” in The Millennial Sovereign: Sacred Kingship and Sainthood in Islam. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.
Natif, Mika. Mughal Occidentalism: Artistic Encounters between Europe and Asia at the Courts of India, 1580-1630, Studies in Persian Cultural History, Vol. 15. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2017.
Parodi, Laura E. “Tracing the Rise of Mughal Portraiture: The Kabul Corpus, c. 1545–55” in Crispin Branfoot (ed.), Portraiture in South Asia since the Mughals: Art, Representation and History. London: I.B. Tauris, 2018.
Rice, Yael. “The Emperor’s Eye and the Painter’s Brush: The Rise of the Mughal Court Artist, c.1546-1627”. Ph.D. Diss., University of Pennsylvania, 2011.
Rizvi, Sajjad H. “Selfhood and Subjectivity in Safavid Philosophy: Some Notes on Mīr Ġiyāṭuddīn Manṣūr Daštakī”, Ishraq: Islamic Philosophy Yearbook 5. Moscow: Nauka-Vostochnaya Literatura, 2014.
-----. “The Existential Breath of al-Rahmān and the Munificent Grace of al-Rahīm: The Tafsīr Sūrat al-Fātiha of Jāmī and the School of Ibn ‘Arabī, Journal of Qur’anic Studies 8, no. 1, 2006.
Rogers, Alexander and Beveridge, Henry. The Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri or Memoirs of Jahangir, trans. Alexander Rogers. New Delhi: Munishiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 1978.
Roxburgh, David J. “Kamal al-Din Bihzad and Authorship in Persianate Painting”, Muqarnas 17, 2000.
-----. “Concepts of the Portrait in the Islamic Lands, ca. 1300-1600,” in Elizabeth Cropper (ed.), Dialogues in Art History, from Mesopotamian to Modern: Readings for a New Century. Washington DC: National Gallery of Art, 2009.
Sakisian, Armenag. “The School of Bihzad and the Miniaturists, Aqa Mirak and Mir Musavvir”, The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 68, no. 396, 1936.
Schimmel, Annemarie. The Mystical Dimensions of Islam. Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 1975.
Sims, Eleanor., Marshak, Boris I., and Grube, Ernst J. Peerless Images: Persian Painting and its Sources. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.
Soucek, Priscilla P. “Nizami on Painters and Painting,” in Richard Ettinghausen (ed.), Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972.
-----. “The Theory and Practice of Portraiture in the Persian Tradition”, Muqarnas 17, no. 1, 2000.
Stronge, Susan. “Portraiture at the Mughal Court,” in ed. Rosemary Crill and Kapil Jariwala (eds.), The Indian Portrait 1560-1860. London: National Portrait Gallery, 2010.