THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Asian and African studies blog

8 posts from January 2013

27 January 2013

William Baffin’s 1619 map of the Mughal Empire

The first British attempt to chart the Mughal empire was made by the Arctic explorer and surveyor William Baffin (1584?-1621), master's mate on the Anne Royal, the ship on which Sir Thomas Roe, England's first ambassador to Mughal India, returned to England in 1619.

Maps K. Top. 115, 22_720
Maps K.Top.115.22. William Baffin’s map of the Mughal Empire. London: Thomas Sterne, 1619
 noc

Already in 1614 the East India Company had requested sea captain Nicholas Downton, about to set sail for India, to find someone who could prepare a map of the whole Moghul empire, specifically locating its cities and rivers. Sir Thomas Roe, arriving the following year, collected geographical data on 37 cities (Add. MS. 6115, f. 256, see Foster below, pp. 531-41), though, in the event, it was William Baffin who actually compiled the map and published it in 1619. Known as ‘Sir Thomas Roe's map’, it provided the basis for all future maps of India for the next hundred years. 

Jahangir’s genealogical seal

A striking feature of Baffin’s map is Jahangir’s dynastic seal depicted in the top right hand corner.

Baffin seal
Jahangir's dynastic seal as depicted by William Baffin
 noc

In a posting several weeks ago, on a document of Babur (Earliest surviving Mughal document?), I talked about his genealogical seal, the first of its kind. This distinctive design, consisting of the ruling emperor’s name in the centre surrounded by his Timurid ancestors, became an important symbol of Mughal imperial authority and was noted by several contemporary European travellers. It was used on official orders (farmans) and differed from the smaller personal ownership seals which are sometimes found on manuscripts (an example of Jahangir’s personal seal can be seen in Muhammad Juki’s Shahnamah, Royal Asiatic Society Persian Ms. 239, f. 3r, on display in the exhibition).

As can be seen from an example of the genuine seal illustrated below, Baffin’s map provides an almost exact replica in translation. The genuine seal heads a land grant issued by Jahangir on 14th of the month Amurdad, regnal year 4 (summer 1609).

Graphic with Seal_720
Or.14982 (10). Jahangir's dynastic seal, undated
 noc

 

Ursula Sims-Williams, Asian and African Studies
 ccownwork

Follow us on Twitter @BLAsia_Africa

Further reading:

W. Foster, “Appendix A: Note on the Map”, in The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the Court of the Great Mogul, 1615-1619, vol 2 (London: Hakluyt Society, 1899), pp. 542-6.

A.T. Gallop, “The Genealogical Seal of the Mughal Emperors of India”, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Third Series 9.1 (1999), pp. 77-140.

 

23 January 2013

Fayżī’s Mawārid al-kalim, a literary tour de force

Imagine yourself in this situation: you sit down to write a book, but almost half of the letters of the alphabet are ‘out of bounds’. That was the challenge faced by Abū al-Fayż Fayżī, scholar, physician, poet laureate and – like his brother Abū al-Fażl ‘Allāmī – favoured courtier of the emperor Akbar. Fayżī set out to prove his literary and linguistic virtuosity by composing an entire book in Arabic without using a single one of those 13 letters of the Arabic alphabet which contain one dot or more. Not a simple book, mind, but an elaborate treatise, over 100 pages in length, on ethics and government.

Or16284_f3-4_750
Beginning of Fayżī’s Mawārid al-kalim (Or.16284, ff. 3v-4)
 noc

Fayżī successfully accomplished this tour de force, and the British Library has an illuminated copy of the text in question, Mawārid al-kalim (‘Sources of [Wise] Sayings’) to prove it. Our manuscript, Or. 16284 (purchased in 2006), is dated 1256, equivalent to 1840 to 1841. The treatise is preceded on folios 1v-2r by a series of verses in Persian in which the author brazenly – but with undeniable elegance – applauds his own achievement. Here is a translation of one (f. 2v, see below) of a series of two muqaṭṭa‘āt (‘fragments) and five rubā‘īs (quatrains with rhyming lines AABA):

This grace, which has poured down from the Realm of “No doubt” –
its writing, pearl-pointed, all poured forth from my bosom.
An epiphany from Vision’s bowers, before dawn
it moved but once, and fruit poured from the Realm Unseen.

Or16284_f1v-2_750
Fayżī’s introductory verses (Or. 16284, ff. 1v-2)
 noc

Nor was this Fayżī’s only venture in the arguably pointless, but far from dotty, field of bī-nuqṭah (‘without dots’) composition. His commentary on the Qur’ān, Sawāṭi‘ al-ilhām, is also written entirely using entirely dotless letters. There is an anecdote which illustrates the relationship between Fayżī and his brother Abū al-Fażl, on the one hand, who were confidants of the freethinking emperor Akbar, and the famously orthodox (in most respects) Sufi Shaykh Aḥmad Sirhindī. A young scholar from Punjab, Sirhindī arrived in Agra to seek his fortune. Admitted to the two brothers’ literary circle, he showed his brilliance by completing a passage of Fayżī’s commentary where the latter had been at a loss. According to Kishmī’s Zubdat al-maqāmāt, a hagiography of Sufis of the Naqshbandi Order (lithograph ed., Kanpur, 1890, p. 132) Fayżī himself marvelled at the eloquence of Aḥmad Sirhindī’s solution. Before very long, however, as was probably inevitable, Sirhindī fell out irrevocably with Fayżī and Abū al-Fażl as a consequence of fundamental differences concerning religious matters.

The text of the treatise ends on folio 55v, but Fayżī, intent on gilding the lily still further, appended a couple of passages. In one (56r-v), for an entire page he eschews all the undotted letters, using only dotted ones. In the second (56v-57r), which reverts to undotted letters, this time in Persian rather than Arabic, he again praises his own writing and informs us that Mawārid al-kalim was completed in the middle days of Muḥarram (the first month of the Islamic year), with Leo in the ascendant, the sun in the sign of Aries and the moon in Aquarius. Finally, and rather enigmatically (for the abjad numerical values of the Arabic letters do not seem to bear out his claim), Fayżī announces that two phrases (or words: kalimah) on the last lines (see below) indicate the title of the work, the month in which it was written, and the year in which it was written. Perhaps our readers can solve this puzzle for us…

Or16284_f56-57_750
Conclusion of manuscript dated 1256 (1840/41), with seal impressions
 noc


Muhammad Isa Waley, Asian and African Studies

Follow us on Twitter @BLAsia_Africa

21 January 2013

Akbar's most influential adviser

Abū’l-Fażl ʻAllāmī (1551-1602)

A recurring figure throughout the exhibition ‘Mughal India’ is Akbar’s influential administrator and adviser, the court historian Abū’l-Fażl.

Abū’l-Fażl ʻAllāmī was the second son of Shaykh Mubārak (1505-1593), a distinguished teacher and scholar who had migrated to Agra in 1543 from Nagaur in Rajastan. His older brother was the court poet Fayżī about whom we’ll be writing in future postings.

A precocious child, Abū’l-Fażl was already by the age of 15 familiar with traditional Islamic philosophy and science. However, not content with this, he actively sought the company of those of other faiths:

Sometimes a sympathy with the padres of Portugal pulled at my skirt. Sometimes a conference with the mubids of Persia, and sometimes a knowledge of the secrets of the Zendavesta [the Zoroastrian sacred scriptures] robbed me of repose, for my soul was alienated from the society both of the sobered and the (spiritually) drunken of my own land.

Abū’l-Fażl ʻAllāmī, Akbarnāmah, vol 3: tr. H. Beveridge. Reprint: Calcutta, 1939, p. 117

At 20 Abū’l-Fażl was contemplating a total withdrawal from society, but instead entered imperial service in 1574. His broad-minded and humanitarian views greatly influenced Akbar’s policies but were strongly opposed by the religious establishment. He took part in Akbar’s religious debates and helped to draft the famous decree (maḥżar) of 1579 which gave Akbar as emperor the right to decide any religious question on which qualified legal interpreters (mujtahidīn) were not in agreement. His prominence, however, led to rivalries and jealousies, and in 1602 Abū’l-Fażl was assassinated at the request of Akbar’s son Salīm (later to become the Emperor Jahāngīr). 

150 years later, Shāh Navāz Khān (1700-1757) wrote in his biographical dictionary, the Maʻāsir al-umarāʼ, that while many had accused Abū’l-Fażl of being an infidel, whether a Hindu, a fire-worshipper, or an atheist, neverthless there were those who regarded him as a follower of ‘Universal Peace’ and a free-thinker who accepted all religions. His works remained extremely popular and were frequently copied right up until the advent of printing. The manuscript illustrated below is a good example.

 

Add26203_f162r_detail_720
This painting from a 19th century copy of the Akbarnāmah shows Abū’l-Fażl, in the presence of Akbar, drafting the order (farmān) which established a new ‘Divine Era’. This solar calendar dated from 1556, the beginning of Akbar’s reign, and used the traditional pre-Islamic (Zoroastrian) Persian day and month names. It also introduced 14 festivals corresponding to the Zoroastrian feasts (Add.26203, ff 162v-163)
 noc

The Akbarnāmah and Āʼīn-i Akbarī

Abū’l-Fażl is best known for his monumental history the Akbarnāmah which Akbar commissioned in 1589 as an official history of his reign. The first two volumes covered Akbar’s predecessors and birth, followed by the events of his reign up to the the end of the 46th regnal year (1601/1602). A third volume, the Ā’īn-i Akbarī  ‘Regulations of Akbar’, is usually treated as a separate work. It provided an encyclopedic geographical, historical and statistical account of the empire. It was the first work of its kind, based on private memoirs, imperial archives, and sources in many different languages. Although excessively flattering in style, it remained an invaluable reference source until replaced by the gazetteers of the 19th century.

Add5645 - 05_720
This 18th century copy of the Āʼīn-i Akbarī illustrates one of Akbar’s inventions: a special wheel to be turned by a cow, which cleaned 16 matchlock barrels in quick succession (Add.5645, ff. 60v-61)
 noc

 

Other works by Abū’l-Fażl

An early work which has not survived was Abū’l-Fażl’s commentary on the Āyat al-Kursī  ‘Throne Verse’ (Qurʼān, Surah 2, verse 255). He completed it in 985 (1575/76) and presented it to Akbar apparently with much approval. Another of his works was the ʻIyār-i dānish ‘Criterion of Knowledge’, a ‘simplified’ version in Persian of the popular Arabic stories Kalīlah wa Dimnah (originally derived from the Sanskrit Panchatantra). Although several Persian translations existed already, they were, as Abu'l-Fażl wrote, "full of rhetorical difficulties" and  abounding in "rare metaphors and difficult words" (Āʼīn-i Akbarī, book 1, Ā'īn 34).

J.54, 36_1_720
The story of ‘The monkey and the turtle’ tells of a cross-species friendship which ends in betrayal as a result of the plotting of the turtle’s jealous wife. The moral is that women are not to be heeded, in case they ruin a good friendship between men. Leaf from the ʻIyār-i dānish dating from c. 1600 (Johnson Album 54, 36)
 noc

Abū’l-Fażl also wrote prefaces for other royal commissions: a Persian translation of the Sanskrit epic the Mahābhārata, and the Tārīkh-i Alfī  ‘History of the Millennium’. Examples of both these works are included in the exhibition. Several posthumous collections of his letters have also survived: the Mukātabāt-i ʻAllāmī and the Ruqaʻāt-i Abū'l-Fażl.

 

Ursula Sims-Williams, Asian and African Studies

Follow us on Twitter @BLAsia_Africa


Further reading

Abū’l-Fażl ʻAllāmī, The Akbarnama; translated by H. Beveridge. 3v. Calcutta: Asiatic Society, 1898-1939.

The Ain i Akbari; translated by H. Blochmann and H. S. Jarrett. 3v. Calcutta: Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1873-1894.

ʻAbd al-Qādir Badāʾūnī, Muntakhabu-t-tawārīkh; translated by G. Ranking, W. H. Lowe and W Haig. 3 v. Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1898-1925.

All these three translations can be read online at: http://persian.packhum.org/persian/main

 

16 January 2013

Art of Painting

One of the greatest accomplishments of the Mughals was to initiate a new tradition of painting. Court historian Abu’l Fazl ibn Mubarak documented the emperor Akbar’s personal interest in the art of painting: ‘His Majesty, from his earliest youth, has shewn a great predilection for this art, and gives it every encouragement…. Hence the art flourishes, and many painters have obtained great reputation.’

Akbar established a formal artistic studio, led by Iranian artists brought to the subcontinent by his father Humayun. Here, painters and calligraphers collaborated and produced illustrated manuscripts and individual works including portraits. Primarily, these works were produced for the emperor’s private library, though princes and notable courtiers were also patrons of the arts.

Akbar invested considerable energy into the artistic studio that he established, known as the tasvir khana. It was led by eminent Iranian artists, but Akbar also recruited Hindu and Muslim artists from across the continent. At its peak, the royal studio employed more than 100 artists of varying skill. The initial eclectic range of styles harmoniously merged into a clearly identifiable Mughal style.

Major projects included the epic Hamzanama (Story of Amir Hamza); it took artists 15 years to complete its 1,400 paintings. Smaller projects included histories of the reigns of Akbar and Babur, Persian classics by the poets Nizami, Jami and Hafiz, as well as Persian translations of the Sanskrit epics Mahabharata and Ramayana.

Most of the individual paintings and illustrations found in manuscripts are painted on paper using opaque watercolours (mineral and earth pigments mixed with gum arabic as a binding medium), often highlighted with gold and/or silver.

Featured below is the colophon page of an imperial volume of the Khamsa (Five poems) by the poet Nizami made for the emperor Akbar. It features the features the portraits of the scribe 'Abd al-Rahim 'Anbarinqalam ('Sweet-pen') and the artist Daulat. This manuscript was copied by 'Anbarinqalam in 1595-96 and features 42 illustrations by master artists of the Mughal studio.

B20004-56


British Library, Or.12208, fol. 325v  noc

 

Malini Roy  ccownwork
Visual Arts Curator

 

Further reading

J.P. Losty and Malini Roy, Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire, British Library, 2012

S. Stronge, Painting for the Mughal Emperor, V&A Publications, 2002

M.C. Beach, The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court, Mapin Publications, 2012

 

15 January 2013

A Hindu scholar's contribution to Persian literary studies

Tekchand’s autograph commentary on Saʻdī’s Būstān

For the literate classes in the Mughal empire, in order to ‘get on’ and enjoy good career prospects it was essential to master Persian, the language of administration and the dominant culture. This led to the production of many dictionaries, textbooks and reference works on Persian language, literature, and the writing of formal letters. Hindu authors played a major part in all this. We plan to return to this subject in future blog entries. Meanwhile, here is one salient example.

Among the Hindu scholars who enjoyed royal patronage was Tekchand Bahār whose best known work is Bahār-i ‘Ajam (‘Persian Springtime’), a glossary of expressions used by Persian poets. Tekchand’s erudition is no less amply illustrated in the autograph manuscript of another of his works, preserved at the British Library. (The only other known copy, in Lahore, is incomplete and dates from the 20th century; hence the question arises whether the Delhi lithograph edition of 1884 was made on the basis of our manuscript or of some other one of which the whereabouts are unknown.) This manuscript, Or. 16171, bears the title Bahār-i Būstān, meaning ‘Springtime of the Orchard’ and alluding (like the Bahār-i ‘Ajam) to the author’s penname, Bahār. The text is a commentary on the Būstān or ‘Orchard’ of Sa‘dī of Shīrāz (d. ca. 1292). This long poem, composed in Sa‘dī’s old age, is a masterpiece in which he distills his wisdom about life and ethical principles. 

Or16171_f96-97_720
A page of Tekchand's commentary. Here Sa'dī's original verses are in red followed by Tekchand's explanations (Or.16171, ff. 96v-97)
 noc

From the colophon we learn that Tekchand completed his work, and this manuscript, at Delhi on Wednesday 21 Rabī ‘ al-Ākhir 1165: that is, 8 March 1752. Interestingly, Tekchand wrote the beginning of his preface on folios 1v-2r (the first two pages of the volume). But then, perhaps because he found that there were many alterations he wanted to make, he broke off on 2r and started afresh on 2v, the next page. Furthermore, the remainder of the manuscript contains a great number of notes and corrections in the author’s own hand – a good example of an autograph in which one can readily observe the writer’s orderly mind at work while enjoying the luxury of reading Tekchand’s clear and elegant nasta‘līq calligraphy.

Or16171_f144r_720
Colophon of Bahār-i Būstān (Or.16171, f. 144r)
 noc

This important manuscript came to light about ten years ago, in a box of dust-laden material that had long lain forgotten in the basement of Probsthain’s, a venerable orientalist bookseller in Bloomsbury. We curators continue to take every possible opportunity, as and when funds allow, to enrich still further the British Library’s world-famous collection of Persian manuscripts – not least those relating to Mughal studies.

 

Muhammad Isa Waley, Asian and African Studies

Follow us on Twitter @BLAsia_Africa

13 January 2013

A Mughal Princess's autobiography

Aḥvāl-i Humāyūn Pādshāh (‘The Life of King Humayun’)

One of the most rewarding aspects of sourcing material to include in the exhibition Mughal India was the realisation that the British Library collections included so many unique historical texts. Several of these are fundamental to the study of Mughal history, but they have never been exhibited. Or.166, Princess Gulbadan’s autobiography, Aḥvāl-i Humāyūn Pādshāh (‘The Life of King Humayun’), is in fact the only known surviving copy, probably copied in the early 17th century, possibly from Gulbadan’s original manuscript. Unfortunately it is incomplete, ending abruptly in 1553. It was purchased by the collector Colonel George William Hamilton (1807-1868), who served in India from 1823 to 1867 latterly as Commissioner in Delhi. It has now been digitised and is available online here.

Princess Gulbadan (1523-1603)

Princess Gulbadan, Babur’s daughter and Humayun’s half-sister, was one of a significant number of royal ladies who, despite living in a man’s world, played important roles in politics and government and were also famous as patrons of learning and the arts. In future posts I’ll be writing about some of the others.

Gulbadan was born in Kabul several years before Babur established himself in India. She followed him there in 1529 when he had set up court in Agra. She was only eight in 1530 when Babur died and was succeeded by her brother Humayun. In 1540, by now married, she went back to Kabul while Humayun struggled unsuccessfully to hold on to power in India. Some time after 1553, the date her memoir ends, she returned to India and we learn from Abu’l-Fazl’s Akbarnāmah that she set out on the Hajj in 1575, arriving home more than six years later after being shipwrecked at Aden, and then a further delay in Gujarat. She died in February 1603, an old lady aged 82 (lunar years). 

1.12. Baby Akbar_720
Akbar is re-united with his mother after an absence of two years. This scene, from the Akbarnāmah, takes place in the women’s quarters. One of the ladies is almost certainly Gulbadan (Or.12988, f. 114r)   
 noc

Gulbadan was highly educated. She could read and write both Chaghatay Turkish and Persian (unlike her husband whom she says could not read ‘savād nadārad’). We know that she had her own library from the fact that Bayazid Bayat, who also wrote an account of Humayun’s reign (IO Islamic 216—also on display), records that he gave her a copy of his work. In 1589 Akbar commissioned his chief minister Abu’l-Fazl to compile a comprehensive history of his reign and ordered anyone who remembered past events to copy out their notes and send them to Court (preface to Akbarnāmah). As a result, Gulbadan writes, “The order was given ‘Write what you know of the lives of Firdaws Makani [Babur] and His Majesty Jannat Makani [Humayun]’”. Admitting that her memories of Babur were not as good as they might have been, she drew on a wealth of family recollections and anecdotes to supplement what she knew from her father’s memoirs. For occasions when she was not present herself, for example during Humayun’s exile in Persia between 1543 and 1545, she relied on reports from his wife, Hamida Begum, and others who had been there.

Aḥvāl-i Humāyūn Pādshāh (‘The Life of King Humayun’)

Gulbadan’s memoirs give delightful glimpses into life in the women’s quarters. They include names and valuable details of the royal wives and children and other members of the family. She quotes Humayun, for example, when reprimanded for not visiting one of his wives earlier, as saying “I am an opium addict, and if it takes me a long time to come to see you, don’t get cross”. When her father built a pool at Dholpur, near Agra, he promised “When this pool is ready, I’ll fill it with wine”. However, Gulbadan comments, “since he gave up wine before the battle with Ranga Sanga, he filled it instead with lemon sherbet”. A description of an excursion to see the first rhubarb sprouting in the hills begins with an account of the ladies travelling by moonlight to Laghman from Balkh, chatting, telling each other stories and singing softly. Unfortunately they took so long to get ready the next morning that by the time they reached Koh Daman, the rhubarb leaves had already sprouted. Humayun was so angry about the delay that he made them write him letters of apology.

Or.166_f16-17_720
Gulbadan describes the circumstances of Babur’s final illness (Or.166, ff. 16v-17r)
 noc

In the passage illustrated above, Humayun is seriously ill. His mother complains to his father Babur (Thackston 2009, p.14):

“You are an emperor: what grief have you? You have other children. My grief is that I have but one son.”

“Mahïm,” he replied, “although I have other children, I love none of them as I do your Humayun. It is for his sake that I have acquired empire, and I want the world to be bright for my beloved Humayun, the only one in the world, the rarity of the age—not for the others.”

While he [Humayun] was ill His Majesty kept the fast of Hazrat Murtaza Ali. This is a fast that is normally kept from Wednesday, but he was so disturbed and upset that he kept it from Tuesday. The weather was extremely hot. His heart and liver got over-heated, and during the fast he prayed, saying, “O God, if a life can be substituted for a life, I, Babur, give my life and soul to Humayun.” That very day His Majesty Firdaws-Makani became indisposed, and Humayun Padishah poured water on his own head, came out, and gave audience. His Majesty my father the Padishah was taken inside on account of his indisposition. For around two or three months he kept to his bed.

 

Ursula Sims-Williams, Asian and African Studies

Follow us on Twitter @BLAsia_Africa

Further reading 

Three memoirs of Humayun. Persian texts edited and translated by W. M. Thackston. Costa Mesa, Calif.: Mazda, 2009.

Gulbadan. The history of Humāyūn (Humāyūn-Nāma). Edited and translated by Annette S. Beveridge. London: Royal Asiatic Society, 1902

10 January 2013

Mughal India exhibition

Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire
British Library (till 2 April 2013)

The current exhibition at the British Library explores one of the most powerful and splendid of all the world's great dynasties with Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire. The 'Great Mogul' seated on a jewel-encrusted throne is one of the most enduring images of India. But apart from this almost mythical ruler, the Mughal dynasty produced a great number of rulers of outstanding ability in statecraft and culture, whether in empire building or patrons of art and architecture.

This exhibition is the first to document the entire period, from the 16th to the 19th century, through more than 200 exquisite manuscripts and the finest paintings drawn almost exclusively from the British Library's extensive heritage collection.

07 January 2013

Who were the Mughals' ancestors?

An illustrated genealogy of the Timurids, the Mu‘izz al-ansāb (‘Glorifier of Pedigrees’)

The Mughals took great pride in their ancestry. They claimed to be descended from both the 14th-century Turkic warlord Tīmūr (Tamerlane) and the even more formidable Mongol conqueror Genghis (Chingiz) Khan (d. 1227). The genealogy of the Mughals, and of other Timurids (descendants of Tīmūr) is documented in such works as Mu‘izz al-ansāb (‘Glorifier of Pedigrees’), compiled in Persian at the court of the Timurid Shāh Rukh (d. 1447) in Herat, Afghanistan. Some years ago the British Library acquired at auction a complete manuscript (Or. 14306) of this very rare text, whose author is unknown. Formerly owned by the archaeologist and art collector Hagop Kevorkian (d. 1962), this copy has three especially interesting features.

Amir Timur_750
The Emperor Tīmūr (r.1370-1405),  founder of the Timurid dynasty

Firstly it contains a continuation of the genealogical line, extending right down to the end of the Mughal dynasty in India. Genealogical links are indicated by vertical red lines, linked with red circles or rectangles for the names of sons and daughters respectively. Secondly, there are added notes in English, providing extra information on some of the rulers discussed; regrettably, we have no idea who wrote them. Thirdly, the manuscript contains 30small portraits, beginning with Tīmūr himself and ending with Sirāj al-Dīn Bahādur Shāh, the last nominal Mughal ruler of Delhi, deposed in 1857. The copyist was Nādir ʻAlī and the manuscript and illustrations were probably produced in Delhi between 1840 and 1850. Their iconography largely conforms to that of other portraits of the same figures, sometimes reflecting known traits of character. The subjects include not only the familiar crowned heads but also a number of other royals, including for example Akbar’s sons Mīrzā Dāniyāl and Sulṭān Murād.


The portraits

81v. Sulṭān Amīr Tīmūr Gūrkān

102r. Mīrānshāh, son of Tīmūr

106v. Amīrzādah Sulṭān Muḥammad, son of Mīrānshāh

107r. Sulṭān Abū Saʻīd, son of Sulṭān Muḥammad

108r. ʻUmar Shaykh Mīrzā, son of Abū Saʻīd

108v. Ẓahīr al-Dīn Muḥammad Bābur (r.1526-1530)

Babur_750
The first Mughal Emperor Bābur



109v. Naṣīr al-Dīn Muḥammad Humāyūn, son of Bābur (r.1530-1540; 1555-1556)

110v. Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Akbar, son of Humāyūn (r.1556-1605)

111r. (right) Mīrzā Dāniyāl, son of Akbar; (left) Sulṭān Murād, son of Akbar

111v. Nūr al-Dīn Muḥammad Jahāngīr, son of Akbar (r.1605-1627)

112v. Shihāb al-Dīn Shāh Jahān, son of Jahāngīr (r.1627-1658)

113v. Muḥammad Dārā Shukūh, son of Shāh Jahān

Dara_750
Prince Dārā Shukūh, eldest son and heir apparent of Shāh Jahān, executed in 1659

114v. Shāh Shujāʻ, son of Shāh Jahān

115v. Muḥammad Murādbakhsh, son of Shāh Jahān

116v. Muḥyī al-Dīn Muḥammad Awrangzīb ʻĀlamgīr (r.1658-1707)

Aurangzeb_750
The Emperor Awrangzīb ʻĀlamgīr

121r. Bahādur Shāh Muḥammad Muʻaẓẓam Shāh, son of Awrangzīb (r.1707-1712)

122r. Shāhzādah Rafīʻ al-Qadr, son of Bahādur Shāh

122v. Rafīʻ al-Darajāt Shams al-Dīn Abū’l-Barakāt, son of Rafīʻ al-Qadr (r.1719)

123r. (right) Muḥammad ʻAẓīm ʻAẓīm al-Shaʻn, son of Bahādur Shāh (r.1712); (left) Sulṭān Karīm al-Dīn, son of ʻAẓīm al-Shaʻn

123v. Muḥammad Farrukhsiyar, son of ʻAẓīm al-Shaʻn (r.1713-1719)

124r. Khujastah-Akhtar Jahānshāh, son of Bahādur Shāh

124v. Nāṣir al-Dīn Muḥammad Shāh, son of Jahānshāh (r.1719-1748)

125r. Mujāhid al-Dīn Aḥmad Shāh, son of Muḥammad Shāh (r.1748-1754)

126r. Muḥammad Muʻizz al-Dīn Jahāndār Shāh, son of Bahādur Shāh (r.1712-1713)

126v. ʻAzīz al-Dīn ʻĀlamgīr II, son of Jahāndār Shāh (r.1754-1759)

129r. Sirāj al-Dīn Shāh ʻĀlam II, son of ʻĀlamgīr II (r.1759-1806)

 

Shah Alam_720
Shāh ʻĀlam II, blinded in 1788, wrote Persian and Urdu poetry under the name Aftāb


131v. Muʻīn al-Dīn Muḥammad Akbar Shāh II, son of Shāh ʻĀlam II (r.1806-1837)

133v. Sirāj al-Dīn Bahādur Shāh II, son of Akbar II (r.1837-1857)

 

Bahadur shah_720
The last Mughal Emperor Bahādur Shāh II, an accomplished poet who wrote under the name Ẓafar


The imperial pedigree of Bābur and his successors may look impressive, but the researches of an international team of geneticists put it into perspective. Tracking the male ‘Y’ chromosomes from Genghis Khan, who besides founding a vast empire fathered a vast number of children, in 2003 they published evidence that roughly one in every 200 men alive today is a descendant of his. For The Guardian’s coverage, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2003/mar/02/science.research


Muhammad Isa Waley, Asian and African Studies

Follow us on Twitter @BLAsia_Africa