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Maharaja Suraj Mal with a Hawk

India, Himachal Pradesh, Nurpur

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 693

The ancestry of falconry, a sport much favored by Indian rulers, can be traced back to the seminomadic peoples of Central Asia. As expressed in Hindu court painting, this vogue is directly attributable to the fashion established by the Mughal courts. The refined hunting abilities of predatory birds, such as their strength and speed in striking prey, were qualities much admired in the martial culture of the Hindu courts. Rajput and Pahari rulers recorded their most beloved animal—birds of prey as well as elephants and stallions—in paintings, both for enjoyment and to chronicle the accoutrements of their reign. Here we see the ruler of a small Pahari hill state, Maharaja Suraj Mal of Nurpur, posed with his prized hunting bird.

Maharaja Suraj Mal with a Hawk, Opaque watercolor with gold on paper, India,  Himachal Pradesh, Nurpur

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