Art/ Collection/ Art Object

"Portrait of Jahangir Beg, Jansipar Khan", Folio from the Shah Jahan Album

Painting by Balchand (Indian, 1595–ca. 1650)
Mir 'Ali Haravi (d. ca. 1550)
Object Name:
Album leaf
verso: ca. 1627; recto: ca. 1530–50
Attributed to India
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
H. 15 3/8 in. (39 cm)
W. 10 3/8 in. (26.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Rogers Fund and The Kevorkian Foundation Gift, 1955
Accession Number:
Not on view verso–Jahangir Beg, Jansipar Khan

INSCRIBED: (in Shahjahan's hand) shabih-i
fansipar Khan, 'amal-i Balchand (a portrait
of Jansipar Khan, done by Balchand)

IN THE TWELFTH year of Jahangir's reign (1617) the emperor writes: "On Saturday the thirteenth of Aban, Jahangir Khan Quli Beg Turkman, who has been ennobled by the title Jansipar Khan, came from the Deccan and paid his respects. His father had held the rank of amir under the ruler of Iran but came out of his native land in the time of His Late Majesty [Akbar], was given a rank and dispatched to the Deccan. He [Jahangir Beg) was brought up in that province. Although in his absence he had repeatedly rendered service, since my son Shah Khurram [Shahjahan) had come to court and spoken of his devotion and fidelity [jansipari], I ordered that he should come alone to court and wait upon me and then return."[1]

In 1623 the imperial Mughal forces, allied with Mulla Muhammad Lari, the minister of Bijapur (pl. 38 in this volume), were surprised by the skillful Malik 'Ambar, minister of Ahmadnagar, and were routed at Bhaturi near Ahmadnagar. Jansipar Khan, who had come from his nearby
fief at Bir, escaped to his fortress and made ready for a siege. Shortly before Jahangir's death Khan-Jahan Lodi, the Deccan commandant of the Mughals, was bribed by Malik 'Ambar's son Hamid Khan and handed over to him the whole country of the Balaghat as far as Ahmadnagar Fort. All Mughal commanders, Jansipar Khan included, were required to withdraw and turn their holdings over to Hamid Khan's agents.

At Shahjahan's accession to the throne Jansipar Khan was appointed governor of Allahabad, "but according to the rule of the revolving heavens–that every good is allied with evil, and every joy is mixed with grief–the wine of success in this instance was followed by the crapulousness of failure, and the limpid waters of joy had at the bottom a sediment of sorrow. The cup was no sooner filled than it was emptied, and the roll not finished without the pages being turned over; in this very year did the cup of his life overflow."[2]

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

BALCHAND's characterization, with its wrinkled brow and eyes, gracefully opened left hand, and old man's stance, conveys the reserved courtliness of this gentleman accustomed to Deccani ways. His off-white, honey-yellow, reddish-brown, deep blue-gray, and gold costume is probably due equally to the artist's subtly inventive palette and the sitter's refined taste. Red and white flowers in the left foreground establish the setting, while seeming to offer courtly salutes. Lacier ones, to the right, reflect Jansipar Khan's gentle demeanor.[3]

Stuart Cary Welch in [Welch et al. 1987]

THE PORTRAIT is surrounded by Persian verses from a mathnavi in the hazaj meter about "Word" and "meaning," perhaps from a treatise about riddles.

Annemarie Schimmel in [Welch et al. 1987]

THIS VERSO portrait has the margin number 35 and belongs to Group A. The border design and coloring are consistent with those of MMA fol. 7r (pl. 28 in this volume; margin number 4) and MMA fol. 8v (pl. 29 in this volume; margin number 3), indicating that all three had come from the same album. The gold plants in the border are generally smaller than usual to accommodate the addition of animals and birds. At the bottom a lion and a buffalo face each other on either side of the hillock with a flowering plant growing on it. In the corner there is the somewhat startling back view of a plump reclining buffalo, which is only partially foreshortened as if seen from above as well as behind. Above it is a second recumbent buffalo, with its head facing forward. The horns of both animals almost touch at the top in a circle, making a wonderful repeat. Next comes a small deer with curved horns seen in profile and looking over its shoulder. Just above the deer, in the middle of the border, two birds perched on the plant stems as if they were tree branches face each other. A bird resembling a moorhen, as large as the deer, is to be found farther up. There are also three birds flying under the cloud bands at the top of the border. None of the experts has been able to see the plants, birds, or animals clearly enough for identification. The inner border is gold on pink with the identification of the subject and attribution to the artist written in the lower part, and the innermost border contains cutout verses.

The artist also seems to have painted the recto side of the present folio. Neither his drawing nor his brush-strokes appear to be quite as fine as those of Daulat. Within the picture itself an iris can be identified at the lower left.

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


1. Jahangir. The Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri; or Memoirs of Jahangir. Trans. Alexander Rogers. Ed. Henry Beveridge. 2 vols. London, 1909–1914, p. 227.

2. Shahnawaz Khan, Samsam al-Dawla, and 'Abd al-Hayy. Maasiru-l-umara; Being Biographies of the Muhammadan and Hindu Officers of the Timurid Sovereigns of India from 1500 to About 1780 A.D. Trans. H. Beveridge. Vols. 1, 2. Rev. ed. Calcutta, 1941–52. 1, pp. 752ff.

3. An early nineteenth-century copy of this portrait was auctioned at Sotheby's on October 14, 1980, lot 192 (called Khan Sipar Khan).
It is not illustrated, but by the description given, it is very close to the present picture. [Marie L. Swietochowski] ecto–Calligraphy

One is plagued and injured all the time For a morsel's sake and for a cloak–But
for one's day dry bread is enough,
For one's life an old coat is all right.
The poor [al-faqir] 'Ali

The same quatrain is found in the Berlin Album, in Cod. Mixt. 313, Vienna, fol. 16a, and in a Mughal copy (FGA 1958.157).[1]

The surrounding lines consist of ghazals by Shahi–the end of one of his poems appears in the upper line, and a full ghazal runs down the left and across the lower level. The poem on the right is incomplete but seems to be by Shahi.

Annemarie Schimmel in [Welch et al. 1987]

THE ABSTRACT design of flower heads, palmettes, and leaf scrolls in gold on a blue ground is very close to the others that belong to this set, particularly to MMA fol 32v (pl. 17 in this volume). However, it has a slightly deeper blue border and appears to have a more lavish use of gold and less finely blended brushstrokes, although it may be that the darker blue ground emphasizes these impressions. In any case, if the borders of this folio are not by Daulat himself, they must certainly be the work of a closely supervised pupil.

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

1. Beach, Milo Cleveland. The Grand Mogul: Imperial Painting in India, 1600–1660. Williamstown, Mass., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1978, pl. II.
Signature: recto:
In Persian, in lower left corner triangle: The poor 'Ali.

Inscription: verso:
In Persian, on scabbard near hilt: Balchand.
In Persian, in second border below painting: Portrait of Jansipar Khan, work of Balchand.

Marking: verso:
Margin number '35' is inscribed in the gilt margin.
Jack S. Rofe, Scotland (in 1929; sale, Sotheby's London,December 12, 1929, no. 130, 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. 67 and 68.

Sotheby's: Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures. London: Sotheby's, New York, 1929. no. 130.

"Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York." In The Arts of Islam. Berlin, 1981. no. 127, pp. 298-299, ill. p. 299 (b/w).

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. 67, 68, pp. 218-221, ill., verso pl. 67 (color); recto pl. 68 (b/w).

Beach, Milo C., Eberhard Fischer, and B.N. Goswamy. Masters of Indian Painting. Vol. Vols. I, II. Zurich, Switzerland: Artibus Asiae Publishers, 2011. vol. I, p. 339.

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