A MAN SLEEPING IN A PAVILION
A MAN SLEEPING IN A PAVILION
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A FRAGMENT FROM THE HAMZANAMA
A MAN SLEEPING IN A PAVILION

MUGHAL INDIA, CIRCA 1560-75

Details
A MAN SLEEPING IN A PAVILION
MUGHAL INDIA, CIRCA 1560-75
Opaque pigments heightened with gold on cloth, composed of two separate album pages joined at the centre right, laid down on card, minor losses and areas of restoration
10 ½ x 12 ¾in. (26.5 x 32.3cm.)
Provenance
Sotheby's London, 15 July 1975, lots 88 and 89
Literature
John Seyller, The Adventures of Hamza, Washington D.C., 2002, pp.278-9, nos.R174 and R175.

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Behnaz Atighi Moghaddam
Behnaz Atighi Moghaddam Head of Sale

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Lot Essay

The Hamazanama was the largest manuscript of Persian poetry ever produced and the only one known painted on cloth. It was commissioned by the Emperor Akbar a little before about 1564, for it was in this year that Abu'l Fazl records in the Ayn-i Akbari that extracts from it were read to the Emperor. Several eminent Persian artists of the 16th century were involved in its production, principally 'Abd al-Samad and Mir Sayyid 'Ali, both having left the employment of Shah Tahmasp. One of the first major commissions of Akbar's reign it was significant for introducing Iranian artistic conventions to Mughal painting, which were to have a profound influence on its development.
The text tells the story of Amir Hamza, the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad, and blends history with local legend. The manuscript originally comprised some 1400 folios of which about 200 survive. Painted on large sheets of cloth, the images take up most of one side and the text is written in black nasta'liq on the reverse. It was in the Mughal Library up to the time of the sack of Delhi by Nadir Shah in 1757, when many of the miniatures were defaced. Many were found in the late 19th century covering the windows of a Kashmiri teashop. When this painting first appeared at auction at Sotheby’s in July 1975, it had been split and was offered as two separate fragments – part of the same original painting. They have now been re-joined, to make a much more impressive fragment of this important manuscript.

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