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"Portrait of Mulla Muhammad Khan Vali of Bijapur", Folio from the Shah Jahan Album

Artist:
Painting by Hashim (active 1620–60)
Calligrapher:
Mir 'Ali Haravi (d. ca. 1550)
Object Name:
Album leaf
Date:
recto: ca. 1620; verso: 1537–47
Geography:
Attributed to India
Medium:
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Dimensions:
H. 15 5/16 in. (38.9 cm) W. 10 3/16 in. (25.9 cm)
Classification:
Codices
Credit Line:
Purchase, Rogers Fund and The Kevorkian Foundation Gift, 1955
Accession Number:
55.121.10.34
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 463
The inscription in Jahangir’s hand on the inner border of this painting states that it is a portrait of Mulla Muhammad Bijapuri, probably the emissary sent by Ibrahim 'Adil Shah II to ask for assistance from the Mughals against his rival Malik Ambar of Ahmadnagar. Hashim was a Deccani painter specializing portraits who moved to the Mughal court ca. 1620. While his use of strong contours and choice of color palette remained constant, under Jahangir’s direction Hashim’s rendering of facial features evolved dramatically.
55.121.10.14 verso– Calligraphy

I shan't give up the cypress
flourishing in my eye:
The gardener knows the cypress
grows best on riverbanks.
The friend grasped me, quite guiltless,
and murdered me today–
He never gives a thought to
what he'll do tomorrow.
The poor [al-faqir] 'Ali

The poet plays on the commonplace that cypresses usually grow on a canal bank in a garden; as the poet's eye is constantly wet, the slim, cypress-like figure of the beloved survives best there.

The upper and lower parts of the page contain two verses in Chagatay Turkish, the upper one by Nava'i and the lower one probably by him. The calligraphy seems to be that of Sultan-'Ali Mashhadi. The cartouches at left and right contain fragments of two ghazals, which may have been written by Jami.


Annemarie Schimmel in [Welch et al. 1987]

THIS VERSO PAGE has an inner border of gold flower heads and palmettes on a scrolling vine in gold on a blue ground, similar but not identical to that on the recto (pl. 38 in this volume). The outer border of gold on pink has larger-scale plants in a denser pattern than on the recto. A certain handling of the plants suggests the same artist did both this page and the recto.

An iris, possibly "Japanese" type, may be seen at the upper left, and in the middle of the inner border a Lacerale tulipa, perhaps parrot type. At the lower right of the outer border there is also a Tulipa, perhaps parrot type (cult.); above it a "peach" type that could be an almond or a hawthorne; above this are an iris and then a plant with cyclamen-type flowers. In the upper corner is a stylized narcissus with a rose next to it.

This folio may have belonged to the same album as MMA fol. 19 (pls. 11 and 12 in this volume) since the border schemes are the same, and neither has cutout poetry around the portrait. If so, it would be the third album which contributed to Group B.


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

55.121.10.34 recto–Mulla Muhammad Khan Wali of Bijapur

THIS PORTRAIT probably depicts Mulla Muhammad Khan Wali of Bijapur, summoned in 1621 by Ibrahim 'Adilshah II to ask the Mughal general Mahabat Khan to send assistance against Malik 'Ambar. He joined the troops at the head of five thousand cavalrymen and was killed by Malik 'Ambar in the Battle of Bhatwandi. He was the father-in-law of Mustafa Khan, commander of the Bijapur armies; apparently, like his son-in-law, he worked for better relations between Bijapur and the Mughals. He did not cooperate, however, with Prince Khurram (Shahjahan) when he rebelled in the Deccan.

Wheeler M. Thackston in [Welch et al. 1987]

LIKE HASHIM's slightly later and more pungently Mughal characterization of Sultan Ibrahim (pl. 35 in this volume), this portrait seems to have been painted soon after Hashim's arrival at the Mughal court from the Deccan. Still typical of Deccani (Bijapuri) portraiture are the quaintly congruent feet, lined up like boxcars on a railway track, and certain facial characteristics. Hard as Hashim strove to satisfy the Mughal taste for realism-noting every nuance of texture, color, and shape-he was not yet able to avoid such ingrained Deccani formulas as the fish-shaped eye–still apparent beneath a Mughal one, painted in profile–and the stylized mouth, with its pleasingly abstracted simplifications.[1] Fortunately, Hashim always retained traces of Deccani style–in his measured, rollingly smooth, razor-sharp outlines, which harmonize so effectively with subtle internal modeling that even figures of great bulk seem graceful, and in his rugged profiles, so uncompromising that they seem to have been chiseled from rock.

Stuart Cary Welch in [Welch et al. 1987]

THIS RECTO PORTRAIT has the margin number 45 and so belongs to Group B. There is no innermost border of cutout poetry. The inner border is composed of a palmette and flower-head scroll in gold on a pink ground. The outer border is made up of flowering plants with thin stems, rather large flowers, and pronounced gold outlines; a slight indication of root or groundline is faintly visible. Smaller plants fill the interstices, while a very faint groundline runs across part of the bottom of the lower border. The plants that are identifiable include a Rembrandt-type "broken" tulip (cult.) and a lily along the bottom border. Above the lily in the left border is a highly stylized rose, and above that to the left of the butterfly is a cyclamen type but with incorrect leaves. The plant above it is possibly a stylized iris with possibly a stylized dianthus above it; to the right of the dianthus perhaps a geranium. The middle plant of the upper border belongs to the Liliaceae and is near to but is not a Disporum. A few butterflies are dispersed among the plants, of which a lily and a tulip are to be found in the lower border. The colors are mainly rather pale and give the impression of having faded.

An early nineteenth-century copy of this portrait was auctioned at Sotheby's on October 14, 1980, lot 187 (illustrated). It is impossible to tell from the black-and-white photograph whether the border of this copy, with its design of flowering plants, is in gold on a buff ground or in colors and gold on a buff ground, since there is so little tonal contrast. The seventeenth-century border of flowering plants in colors and gold on a buff ground is full of contrasts, with a sharp nervous quality to the drawing totally lacking in the flaccid forms of the plants of the later leaf.


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

Footnotes:

1. For an excellent Bijapuri example, see Welch, Stuart Cary, India! Art and Culture 1300–1900. Exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1985, p. 297.
Signature: 55.121.10.34 verso:
In Persian, in lower left corner triangle: The poor 'Ali.

Inscription: 55.121.10.34 verso:
In Persian, in border below portrait (in Jahangir's hand): Portrait of Mulla Muhamad of Bijapur work of Hashim.

Marking: 55.121.10.34 recto:
Margin number '45' is inscribed in the gilt margin.
Jack S. Rofe, Scotland (in 1929; sale, Sotheby's London,December 12, 1929, no. 127, 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. 37 and 38.

Sotheby's: Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures. London: Sotheby's, New York, 1929. no. 127.

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. 37, 38, pp. 158-161, ill., verso pl. 37 (b/w); recto pl. 38 (color).

Okada, Amina. Imperial Mughal Painters: Indian Miniatures from the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Paris: Flammarion, 1992. p. 152, ill. fig. 177 (b/w), recto.



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