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MUGHAL MINIATURES : Baburnama, An Emperor's Autobiography

Baburnama, depicting Miniature paintings of battlefield, landscapes, birds and animals.

In many of the Mughal Miniature Paintings, painted in the time of Emperor Babur and afterwards, the artists have taken the love scenes and the scenes of bravery of Mughal princes as their subjects. Here the emperor Babur is shown as hunting. The Mughal era of miniature paintings owns a noteworthy page in the history of art of paintings in India. In Mughal Miniature, the artists have deviated from their Persian predecessors so far as the subjects of the paintings and their contents were concerned.

Babur hunting Rhinoceros near Peshawar, Baburnama

Unlike most of the Persian paintings in Baburnama, the painters have develpped their taste for painting scenes of nature, too. Here the Miniature shows landcape with Squirrels, a Peacock and Peahen, Demoiselle Cranes and Fishes. It has enhanced the value of the miniatures, as the artistists were interested in painting landscapes, too, in addition to the war scenes and love scenes.

The Baburnama is autobiographic work by the Emperor Babur himself. He was a poet and extensively learned man. Even during his life passed in the battlefields, he kept his literary spirit alive. Here a miniature from in Baburnama depicts the war of Panipat. Most of the illustrations, the miniature paintings by painters, depict the incidences from Baburnama, an autographical writings by Emperor Babur.

Khusrau Shah swearing fealty to Babur. Baburnama. Location : State Museum, Moscow.

Here the battle of Panipat is painted where in Babur got a decisive victory over local Rajput kings of India and put up foundation of the Mughal era of India’s medieval history. Another scene is from Baburs court. A king a prince who conceded defeat or came voluntarily under Babur’s rule is shown here swearing fealty to Babur. Mughal Miniatures, apart from the scenes from ordinary life, mainly depicted scenes from Mughal Court. (Images Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Mighal Miniatures : Subjects and Themes

The miniature style of paintings in India can be traced back up to the period of tenth century. The paintings available from this spell are generally done on palm leaves, as the paper was not in use. With the use of paper in miniature paintings from the early 14 the century, the artists of Indian miniature style adopted the same. So the work onward that era is on paper.

The court of Akbar, Akbarnama

These miniature artists adopted the mythological stories as their subjects of painting. These artworks were generally accompanied by the text of the religious manuscripts and illustrations of mythological epics. Other subjects like portraits and the scenes from the daily life of the people were still not popular among the miniature artists. (Image CourtesyWikimedia commons)

The art of miniature painting took a beautiful and rich turn with the reign of Mughal Emperors in India. That was the tome of 16th and 17 the centuries when these Emperors like Babur and Akbar liked the art and sponsored the artists to do their jobs. Under the umbrella of the Mughal Emperors, the miniature artists took the liberty to find new subjects and themes to depict in their miniature paintings. In addition to court scenes and deeds of Emperors and their prices, the artists painted memorable portraits of beautiful ladies.

Miniature Painting of Birds and Animals

In addition to the portrataits of men and women, the artists og Akbar era had found the treasure of subjects in the nature itself. The nature and flora and fauna were the new concept in the art of miniature painting till this time. Such newer and innovative themes and the subjects got their due places on the frames of the artworks. This painting is Dodo illustration by Ustad Mansur (Image Courtesy wikemedia Commons)

While looking at the Mughal miniatures we can draw a conclusion that these paintings resemble the Persian style of painting. It is so because the artists who did mughal era paintings in Indiahad got training from the painters migrated from Persia, today’s Iran.

Squirrels, a Peacock and Peahen, Baburnama

Unlike most of the Persian paintings in Baburnama, the painters have develpped their taste for painting scenes of nature, too. Here the Miniature shows landcape with Squirrels, a Peacock and Peahen, Demoiselle Cranes and Fishes. It has enhanced the value of the miniatures, as the artistists were interested in painting landscapes, too, in addition to the war scenes and love scenes. (Images Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)


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