"A Supplicant at a Hindu Temple," Folio from the Hamzanama (The Adventures of Hamza)

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 693

Hamzanama paintings reflect the painting styles of two Persian artists (Mir Sayyid Ali and Abdus Samad) working with a number of local Indian artists (Daswant, Basawan among others) in a hybrid idiom known as the early Mughal style. The illustrations to this action-packed narrative of the fictional adventures of Amir Hamza, a figure of early Islam, also offered a visual analogue to the cultural exchange that was taking place at every level of Indian society.

This folio depicts a scene of a worshipper making a respectful salutation at the door of a Hindu shrine where he is received by a priest. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of idolatry, a practice deplored by Hamza as against the tenets of Islam, but represented nevertheless with conviction as an essential part of the narrative. A later intervention has resulted in the deliberate smudging of some of the faces of the human and sculptural elements (some subsequently repainted), evidence of how iconoclasm has remained an active response through the ages down to our present time.

"A Supplicant at a Hindu Temple," Folio from the Hamzanama (The Adventures of Hamza), Opaque color and gold on cotton cloth

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