Inkpot of the Emperor Jahangir


Object Name:
dated A.H. 1028/A.D. 1618–19
Nephrite, gold
H. 2-1/2 in. (6.4 cm); Diam. 3-1/4 in. (7.9 cm)
Credit Line:
The Sylmaris Collection, Gift of George Coe Graves, 1929
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Sturdy, monumental, artfully rounded, richly adorned, and so weighty and well balanced that it could hardly be overturned, this dignified and useful inkpot can be seen as a poetic visual symbol of the empire inherited by Jahangir. If his father, Akbar, commissioned works of art as elements of a dynamic imperial vision, the son did so for delectation and spiritual nourishment. His miniatures, architecture, objects, and autobiography, the Tuzuk-i Jahangiri, reveal him as a responsible–if quirky, warm-blooded, and sometimes cruel–ruler, whose aesthetic concerns left enough time and energy for essential statecraft. Few rulers in world history match his artistic discernment or breadth of taste. He collected pictures and objects from the Islamic world and beyond: Chinese porcelains, Augsburg gilt-bronze statuettes, engravings by Dürer and the Flemish Mannerists, and Renaissance jewels as well as Persian miniatures. On coming to the throne, he released a large proportion of the imperial artists and craftsmen to feudatory courts and to the bazaar workshops, keeping only those whose work met his standards of seriousness and restraint.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: Signed by Mu'min Jahangiri and dated A.H. 1028/A.D. 1618–19
    Work of Mumin, the servant (or follower) of Jahangir.

    Inscription: Surat-i itmam yaft az Jahangir Shah akbar Shah dar sanat 14 jalus-i Jahangiri mutabiq-i sanat 1028 Hijri [The completion of the form occured under Jahangir Shah, the great, in the 14th year from the coronation of Jahangir the just (corresponding to) the year 1028 of the Hegira (A.D. 1618–19)]

    از جهانگیر شاه اکبر شاه/ در سنۀ 14 جلوس جهانگیري/ مطابق سنۀ 1028 هجري/ صورت اتمام یافت
    Belongs to Jahānīr shah completed at the year 14th year of sitting on throne which it is equal to the hijri year 1028/ 1619 A.D.

    On the base
    عمل مؤمن جهانگیري
    Made by Mū᾽min Jahangir


  • Provenance

    Lale Kashi Nath, Luchnow, India (until about 1904; to Lall); [ Ganeshi Lall& Son, Agra, India, about 1904–29; to Graves]; George Coe GravesOsterville, MA (1929; gifted to MMA)

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History