AKBARNAMA: Painting the Medieval History of India


The Mughal period in Indian history had seen widespread cultural development, especially in the field of miniature paintings. These paintings are like binocular through which we can see the Medieval history of India. The introduction of new technique in the field of architect was also owns a noteworthy page in the history of India; but the painting come in fore. As it was rooted in a diverse mix of cultural, religious and artistic traditions, the art of miniature paintings in India became one of the richest and most productive schools. This spell of the art had carved out its own place in the history of Islamic art, too.



Mughal Art
: It helps creating the strong two-dimensional design making the overall frame pleasant to look at. In many paintings, the scenes narrating different events were painted in several sectors of the same work, in the same frame. In doing so the proportions of these sectors risked making the whole painting look unrealistic. But the main strength was their strong linear rhythm created by the play of colours and the stories narrated in the same. And by this way these miniatures created the effect of great energy.

Mughal Style and Subjects: Most of the miniature artists of Mughal era focused their attention on depicting beauty. They were much attentive to the intricacies of the designs of jewels and drapes, and clothes; sometimes forgetting the crucial factor of realism that they considered less important. However the rich designs and ornaments all have been given a splendid treatment by the artists. Look at the lady’s turban and the rich ornaments. Every item had been given a royal and detailed touch.Here we can see the characteristic of medieval warriors and the elephants used in wars.

Painting Techniques: Persian painters of miniature style had used upright formats for as their subject of depiction. They emphasized and used general setting with the flat aerial perspective. The Mughal Miniature artists, especially those who painted during the time of Emperor Akbar (1556-1605), maintained that qualities of the Persian style, too, in their work. But they were progressive, too. They added their vision and took some artistic freedom, applying naturalism in their work. These artists tried depicting the detailed observation of the world in their immediate surround. In that sense they were a bit like genre painters. The keen observation of some of the paintings of Akabarnama would speak for this changed perspective.

Mughal Miniatures: Exploring New Subjects

Animal Painting in Miniatures: The Miniature artists also painted animals like Cheetah in the scenes involving bravery of a prince. They would paint natural scenes like trees and gardens. Such paintings are done for the the illustrations of events narrated in the book Akabarnama.

Thus the birds and garden became the additional beauty of the miniatures done during and after his time. However in the subsequent period, the Emperors of Mughal dynasty were not so fond of art. But the miniature paintings had become the integral part of India’s social structure. The Rajput kings ruling present day Rajasthan and other areas supported the painters and the art remained alive.

The Mughal Miniature artists have widened their choices of objects to be painted: they have included painting the birds and animals, too, in their artwork. Here is one of the nicest paintings done in this line. It depicts a Mughal prince with a Falcon in his hand. It shows how the prices, kings and the emperors were fond of animals and birds.

A Prince with a Falcon, originally uploaded by Celeste33.

Indian Mughal miniature painting dating around 1600 - 1605.

This Mughal Miniature Miniature is painted in opaque watercolour. Other materials used in this paintings are ink and gold on paper.

It was customary for the Mughal Miniature painters to make their colours from the indigenous materials. They extracted green from the green beetles. For getting yellow colour of some strength, they used the dried urine of cow.

In the miniatures painted during the time of Mughal Empire and the Rajput kings have generally depicted the life style of the kings and the prices. The Mughal Miniature painters chose their subjects involving the courts and the kings. This painting, too, shows how a prince is involved in playing with his pet, the falcon.

The actual size of painting is around 14.3 cm x 8.6 cm. and is presently at Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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