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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

"Dervish With a Lion", Folio from the Shah Jahan Album

Painting by Padarath
Sultan 'Ali al-Mashhadi (active late 15th–early 16th century)
Object Name:
Album leaf
verso: ca. 1630; recto: ca. 1500
Attributed to India
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
H. 15 5/16 in. (38.9 cm) W. 10 1/16 in. (25.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Rogers Fund and The Kevorkian Foundation Gift, 1955
Accession Number:
Not on view
Persian Inscription (in lower border, in Shah Jahan’s hand): "Work of Padarath"

During the reigns of Jahangir and Shah Jahan, devotees were favorably received, and often indulged, at court. The dervish depicted here has accoutrements associated with a mystic of the time such as a satchel, fur skirt, and distinctive head gear. He also has the dedicatory scars from self-inflicted burns on his upper arm. The floral borders in the Shah Jahan Album, many created by Daulat, combine real and imagined plants with insects, birds, and cloud bands. verso–Dervish with a Lion

INSCRlBED: (on border, in Shahjahan's hand)
''work ['arnal] of Padarath"

EQUIPPED WITH satchel, pouch, begging bowl, dagger, knife, and staff, this courtly ascetic roamed the land with a friendly lion, as young and elegant as himself. During the tranquil decades of Jahangir's and Shahjahan's reigns, devotees were favorably received at court where they were often indulged with imperial largesse. This well-bred holy man, sporting rakish headgear foppishly wound in blue cloth and a fur skirt upheld by rugged chains, seems new to the path of devotion. But the dedicatory scars from self-inflicted bums on his upper arm–perhaps resulting from an initiatory ritual–are evidence of his ardent spiritual longing.

Padarath's formative period can be traced from inscribed illustrations to historical manuscripts of the 1590s. The few works he painted for Jahangir indicate changes of style as well as subject, from typically Akbari, active, crowded historical compositions to Jahangir's finely detailed illustrations for fable books and natural history studies. Here, in one of his latest miniatures, he took on the ambitious challenge of genre portraiture. He was not an artist of the first rank and his historical pictures pall in comparison to those of Basawan or Miskin. His flora, fauna, and ascetics, moreover, are overshadowed by those of Mansur, the brilliant specialist in natural history, and Govardhan's studies of holy men are far more penetrating. The landscape and the lion of the present miniature bring to mind Padarath's inscribed Long-Haired Mountain Sheep in Dublin, an appealing if somewhat boneless characterization set against a romantic sunset sky, and a finely finished study of a pheasant, formerly in the Rothschild collection. Both include grass, scrub, and flowers painted in Padarath's unique manner, reminiscent of Arthur Rackham's spidery illustrations to fairy tales.[1]

Stuart Cary Welch in [Welch et al. 1987]

THE SURROUNDING verses are, like those on MMA fol. 10r (pl. 76 in this volume) from Qasimi's Divan. One is the end of a ghazal; the other is the beginning of the ghazal whose closing lines are on pl. 76. This indicates that the two pages, whose margin numbers are consecutive, were prepared at the same time, with the craftsmen using the same poetry book.

Annemarie Schimmel in [Welch et al. 1987]

THIS VERSO leaf has a cutout-poetry innermost border and a flower-head, palmette, and leaf-scroll inner border in gold on a pink ground. The outer border contains flowering plants in colors and gold on a buff ground. The plants are on the whole straight-stemmed with simple leaf forms. There are six along the top and bottom and two side-by-side along the wider outer margin. A number of tiny insects, leaf sprays, grass tufts, and clouds are present. The very pronounced crocus plant at the lower inner side of the right border with what would seem to be its bulb may well have been copied from a European herbal. None of the other plants show realistic roots or bulbs. Among them a narcissus can be identified in the lower left comer, with another in the upper border second from left and a third, this one of the bulbocadium type, second from right. A dianthus appears at the right of the outer margin, the second plant from the top. Below it is what looks like a Galanthus but with superior ovary. In the lower border the plant second from the left is an Iridaceae with a lily two plants to its left.

Marie L. Swietochowski in [Welch et al. 1987]


1. See Arnold, Thomas W, and Wilkinson, J. V. S. The Library of A. Chester Beatty: A Catalogue of the Indian Miniatures. 3 vols. London, 1936, III, pl. 53, and Brown, Percy. Indian Painting Under the Mughals. Oxford, 1924, pl. LIV; also Colnaghi, P. and D., &. Co. Ltd. Persian and Mughal Art. London, 1976, no. 100, and Beach, Milo Cleveland. The Grand Mogul: Imperial Painting in India, 1600–1660. Williamstown, Mass., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1978, no. 70. The uninscribed pheasant, attributable to Padarath on stylistic grounds, is based upon Mansur's :well-known drawing in nim qalam of a Himalayan cheer pheasant in the Victoria and Albert Museum, published in
Welch, Stuart Cary. Indian Drawings and Painted Sketches. New York, Asia Society, 1976, no. 14.

It has been pointed out by MLS that a fine early nineteenth-century copy of this miniature, also ascribed to Padarath, is in the Wantage
Album (V&A 133–1921); see Clarke, C. Stanley. Indian Drawings: Thirty Mogul Paintings of the School of Jahangir (17th Century) and Four Panels of Calligraphy in the Wantage Bequest. Victoria and Albert Museum Portfolios. London, 1922, no. 18, pl. 12.

A second nineteenth-century copy, with the lion walking as in the Kevorkian Album leaf, has also been noted by MLS; it was sold at Sotheby's, October 14, 1980, lot 201 (border unillustrated). recto–Calligraphy

THE WHOLE page contains one beautifully calligraphed ghazal by Amir Khusrau, the signature in the lower left comer reads, "Written by the poor, lowly, miserable slave Sultan-'Ali Mashhadi in the capital, Herat."[1]

The poem has the radif (recurrent rhyming phrase) "how can one ... ?" It describes the state of the lover: How can one complain when the dagger of the king's glance wounds one? How can one build a house on the day of storm (that is, how can one be patient while experiencing the cruelty of the beloved)? And so the questions continue.

The poem's last two hemistichs, written in the center of the left side, are in the wrong sequence; it may be that Sultan-'Ali changed the sequence because he wanted to avoid the repetition of the same rhyme-words in the three lower lines. Similar changes of lines for the sake of aesthetic effect occur several times in the border calligraphies.

Annemarie Schimmel in [Welch et al. 1987]

THIS RECTO page has the same border scheme as the verso. Its inner border, however, in gold on blue, has a more pronounced pattern than usual with one continuous scrolling stem with flower heads and leaves. There is no doubt that the same artist painted both borders of the folio since the crocus, here in the upper right corner, is identical to its counterpart on the verso. The narcissus third from the left at the bottom is also virtually identical to the one at the lower left of the verso, and the lily second from the left in the upper border has its counterpart in the lower border of the verso. Here, in addition, a tulip is found in the upper left comer, an iris next to the lily, a poppy next to the iris, and a chrysanthemum next to that. In the outer border the plant below the tulip is perhaps a clematis and the plant below that is a primula. The plant to the right below the primula can be identified as an Iridaceae and in the lower left comer is a Narcissus bulbocadium.
In the lower border the third plant from the left is also a narcissus with a primula to the right of it and to the right again possibly a Galanthus but with superior ovary, like its counterpart on the verso border.

Marie L. Swietochowski in [Welch et al. 1987]


1. Amir Khusrau Dihlawi. Divan-i kamil. Ed. Mahmud Darvish. Teheran, 1965, no. 1623.
Signature: recto:
In Persian, in the lower left corner triangle: Written by the poor, lowly, miserable slave Sultan 'Ali al-Mashhadi in the capital, Herat.

Inscription: verso:
In Persian, in lower border (in Shah Jahan's hand): Work of Padarath

Marking: verso:
Margin number '10' is inscribed in the gilt margin.
Jack S. Rofe, Scotland (in 1929; sale, Sotheby's London,December 12, 1929, no. 142, to Kevorkian); [ Hagop Kevorkian, New York, from 1929]; [ Kevorkian Foundation, New York, until 1955; gift and sale to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Emperor's Album: Images of Mughal India," October 21, 1987–February 14, 1988, nos. 77 and 78.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Sultan Ali of Mashhad, Master of Nasta'liq," January 19, 2001–May 27, 2001, no catalogue.

Sotheby's: Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures. London: Sotheby's, New York, 1929. no. 142.

Welch, Stuart Cary, Annemarie Schimmel, Marie Lukens Swietochowski, and Wheeler M. Thackston. The Emperors' Album: Images of Mughal India. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. no. nos. 77, 78, pp. 237, 239-241, ill., verso pl. 77 (color); recto pl. 78 (b/w).

Haidar, Navina. "Visual Splendour: Embellished Pages from the Metropolitan Museum 's Collection of Islamic and Indian Manuscripts." Arts of Asia vol. 42 (2012). pp. 111-112, ill. fig. 8 (color).

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