Differing dancers in the Akbarnama


Both of these painting were done in 1590-1595, in a work called the Akbarnama, or Book Of Akbar. Meant as an official record of his reign, Abu’l Fath Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar was the third emperor of the Mughal Empire. A full English translation by Colonel H.S. Jarret (translated out of Persian in 1884) can be read and downloaded here on the Internet Archive. The Akbarnama had at least 49 artists of the Mughal Painting School. The picture above was done by La’l and Banwali Khord. An opaque watercolour with gold on paper, the height is 32 cm and the width is 18.9 cm. It is currently in the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The painting above was done to show Akbar’s victory in Malwa, over Baz Bahadur. The romance of Baz Bahadur and Rupmati is still well known in the region today. The dancers are dressed in a style completely different to other dancers in the Akbarnama. They are wearing a combination of tight pants and layered short skirts. The artists who did the work were Kesav Kalan and Dharmdas, the height is 32.9 cm and the width is 25 cm and also made out of watercolour on paper with gold. Also in the Victoria & Albert Museum.

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