Sunday, October 14, 2018

Zanbur the Spy

From The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, 1983 page 328.

Click to enlarge.

40 Zanbur the Spy
Indian, Mughal period, reign of Akbar (1556-1605), ca. 1561-76
Ink, colors, and gold on cotton mounted on paper; 291/8 x 221/2 in. (74 x 57.2 cm)

The first major work of the Mughal school — an illustrated copy of the Dastan-i Amir Hamzeh (The Story of Amir Hamzeh) — narrated the exploits of the Prophet Muhammad's uncle Hamzeh (and another hero of the same name whose adventures were interwoven into this text). This manuscript consists of fourteen huge volumes (each about thirty by twenty-three inches). Each contains one hundred full-page paintings on cotton; many are scenes of violence and horror, but there are also quieter paintings, in which the artist portrayed his subject realistically in a peaceful setting. He did so in this picture, which shows a spy, Zanbur, bringing a maid named Mahiyya to town on a donkey. The houses and pavilions are more truthfully rendered than in contemporary Iranian miniatures. The high viewpoint and decorative quality stem from Persian models, but the increased realism and, through it, our more personal involvement are indicative of a new and different attitude. Rogers Fund, 1923, 23.264.1

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