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A painting from a dispersed manuscript mounted on a folio from the FARHANG-I JAHANGIRI
A painting from a dispersed manuscript mounted on a folio from the FARHANG-I JAHANGIRI


A painting from a dispersed manuscript mounted on a folio from the FARHANG-I JAHANGIRI
India, Mughal period, circa 1590-1600 and 1608-09
Depicting a battle scene in a rocky landscape with an army chasing horse riders across hills, laid down between gilt floral borders on a folio from the Farhang-i Jahangiri, two lines of black nasta'liq script on front, the reverse with 35 ll. of black nasta'liq script within gold floral borders
Black ink, opaque pigments and gold on paper
6 x 10 in. (15.3 x 25.4 cm.), folio
Private collection, London, acquired at Bonham's London, 19 April 2007, lot 288

Lot Essay

The Farhang-i Jahangiri, "Jahangir's Dictionary," is one of the most renowned dictionaries of the Persian language, composed by Mir Jamal al-Din Inju Shirazi in the early 17th century. Jamal al-Din Inju was born in Shiraz but had lived in India since his early years and died in Agra in 1626. He served under both emperors Akbar and Jahangir (Rieu, Persian Manuscripts II, 1879-83, pp. 496-498). In her discussion of the dictionary, Linda York Leach notes that when prince Jahangir ascended to the throne directly following Akbar's death in 1605, a number of works such as the Farhang-i Jahangiri and copies of the Shahnama "seem to have been prepared as classics that would create a strong literary and intellectual foundation for the era" (Linda York Leach, Mughal and other Indian Paintings from the Chester Beatty Library, vol. I, 1995, p.148). The dictionary took Jamal al-Din Inju twelve years to complete and consists of twenty-four chapters with entries arranged in alphabetical order. Verses from renowned poets support each entry and makes the Farhang-i Jahangiri particularly important for the preservation of these works. Although the work is known to have been completed in 1608/09, the first time a copy is recorded as being presented to Jahangir is 1623. A slightly earlier copy, dated from AH 1024/1615 AD, is in the Oriental Institute in St. Petersburg.
Another leaf from the same manuscript is in the Walters Museum of Art (W.874.B). It shows identical red and gilt floral borders but its margins are finely illuminated with princely figures amidst foliage. Two other leaves similarly pasted with late 16th and early 17th century Mughal paintings are in the Walters Art Museum (W.874 and W.874.A).

Fifteen other leaves are in the Chester Beatty Library which were probably acquired by the French dealer Georges Demotte. In his 1929 exhibition catalogue, he included paintings that were mounted on folios from the Farhang-i Jahangiri (Linda York Leach, op. cit., pp. 321-324).

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