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A FOLIO FROM THE 'FIRST' BABURNAMA OF 1589, MOUNTED ON A LEAF FROM THE FARHANG-I JAHANGIRI OF 1608
BABUR AND HIS ENTOURAGE ON THEIR WAY TO GUR KHATTRI
A FOLIO FROM THE 'FIRST' BABURNAMA OF 1589, MOUNTED ON A LEAF FROM THE FARHANG-I JAHANGIRI OF 1608
BABUR AND HIS ENTOURAGE ON THEIR WAY TO GUR KHATTRI
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These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF WILLIAM KELLY SIMPSON
A FOLIO FROM THE 'FIRST' BABURNAMA OF 1589, MOUNTED ON A LEAF FROM THE FARHANG-I JAHANGIRI OF 1608 BABUR AND HIS ENTOURAGE ON THEIR WAY TO GUR KHATTRI

THE PAINTING DESIGNED BY LA'L, WORKED ON BY BANWARI KALAN, MUGHAL INDIA, LATE 16TH/EARLY 17TH CENTURY

Details
A FOLIO FROM THE 'FIRST' BABURNAMA OF 1589, MOUNTED ON A LEAF FROM THE FARHANG-I JAHANGIRI OF 1608
BABUR AND HIS ENTOURAGE ON THEIR WAY TO GUR KHATTRI
THE PAINTING DESIGNED BY LA'L, WORKED ON BY BANWARI KALAN, MUGHAL INDIA, LATE 16TH/EARLY 17TH CENTURY
Recto with opaque pigments heightened with gold on paper, librarian’s red annotations of authorship below, verso with 35ll. fine red and black nasta'liq in green frame of gold floral meander, margins with black-outlined gold figures and floral sprays
Painting 9 x 5 ½in. (22.8 x 14cm.); folio 13 ½ x 8 ¾in. (34.3 x 22.3cm.)
Provenance
Estate of William Kelly Simpson
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Lot Essay

The Baburnama is an autobiographical chronicle and memoir of Babur, the young prince who conquered India in 1526 and founded the Mughal dynasty. Babur’s grandson, Akbar, ordered the text to be translated from its original Chagatay Turkish, the language of the Timurids, into Persian, the language of the Mughal court. The task was undertaken by ‘Abd al-Rahim, Akbar’s khan-i khanan and the finished translation was presented to Akbar in November 1589. Court artists immediately began working on an illustrated version of the manuscript. Our painting comes from this first illustrated copy of the Baburnama, now dispersed between public and private collections worldwide. It is originally thought to have contained 193 illustrations (Stronge, 2002, p.86-91).

Within the next ten years, six other illustrated versions were produced for Akbar. Ellen Smart wrote that ‘the spontaneity, simplicity, and forthright vigor of the paintings from this first manuscript are far more in keeping with the text than are the more complex, ornate paintings of the manuscripts that followed’ (Smart, 1978). Nineteen folios from our manuscript are in the Victoria and Albert Museum and as a result it is often referred to as the ‘South Kensington Baburnama’. Other folios however are in major museum collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum, and the Chester Beatty Library, to name a few. Other folios have sold at auction, most recently in these Rooms, 2 May 2019, lot 78; 21 April 2016, lot 1.

This painting depicts a young Babur on horseback accompanied by his courtiers on his way to Gur Khattri, a Hindu shrine, in Bigram, present-day Peshawar. On his first raid into Hindustan in 1505, Babur mentions the well-known cave (Beveridge, 1969, p.230): “Tales had been told us about Gur-khattri; it was said to be a holy place of the Jogis and Hindus who came from long distances to shave their heads and beards there. I rode out at once from Jam to visit Bigram, saw its great tree, and all the country round, but, much as we enquired about Gur-khattri, our guide, one Malik Bu-said Kamari, would say nothing about it. When we were almost back in camp, however, he told Khwaja Muhammad-amin that it was in Bigram and that he had said nothing about it because of its confined cells and narrow passages. The Khwaja, having there and then abused him, repeated to us what he had said, but we could not go back because the road was long and the day far spent .”
In 1519, during another excursion, Babur managed to visit the cave (Beveridge, 1969 p.394). For an illustration from the 1590 Baburnama in the Victoria and Albert Museum depicting Babur visiting the yogis, ascribed to Keshav Khurd, see Losty and Roy, 2012, fig.9, pp.42-43.

Our painting is ascribed with the name of two artists, La‘l and Banwari Kalan (Banwari the Elder). The names are inscribed in red ink beneath the painting showing that this was a royal copy made for the Emperor Akbar himself. The collaboration between two or more artists was common practice in Mughal workshops. La‘l was one of Akbar’s major artists and one of the most prolific designers of illustrated manuscripts. He worked on several other illustrations from the dispersed Baburnama, the Victoria & Albert Museum Akbarnama, the Bankipur Timurnama and the Keir Khamsa of Nizami, to name a few. Banwari the Elder is known as a somewhat conservative painter who probably began his career in the imperial workshop as early as about 1560-65. There is another painting from the dispersed Baburnama, “Three Trees of India” worked on by Banwari Kalan, now in the Metropolitan Museum (inv.no. 2013.576; “Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2012-2014”, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v.72, no.2 Fall 2014, p.32. He is also known to have collaborated with La‘l (f. 22v, 23r), Kesu (f. 69v) and Makand (fol. 51r) in the Bankipore Timurnama of 1584 (Beach, 1981, pp.218-219)

For an Akbarnama folio similarly mounted on a folio from a manuscript of the Farhang-i Jahangiri in the present sale, see Lot 81.

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