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The Emperor Shah Jahan With His Son Dara Shikoh: Folio From The Shah Jahan Album

Two figures are seated on a golden throne furnished with luxurious cushions.

 

Shah Jahan admires the large ruby clasped in his right hand . . .

 

While his son, who is facing him, looks toward the bowl of precious stones resting in his father's left hand.

 

The emperor is clad in a red and yellow striped turban with a plume . . .

 

A white double­breasted gown called a jama

 

A richly embroidered sash, and a violet garment called a pajama.

 

On his right thumb is a jeweled ring, which could be used to draw the string of a hunting bow.

 

The handle of a jeweled dagger, signaling his supremely important position in the court, is visible just above his waist.

 

Prince Dara Shikoh is dressed in a yellow jama fastened with a sash. In one hand he holds a turban pin, in the other a fly whisk made from a peacock feather. Multiple strands of pearls adorn Dara Shikoh; under Mughal rule, pearls were a hallmark of nobility, and princes and princesses were almost always portrayed with them.




The patron of this painting was most likely Shah Jahan's father, Emperor Jahangir, who was interested in realistic and masterfully drawn depictions of people, animals, and plants. The wide border that frames the painting contains precisely rendered images of flowers and birds. In the upper right corner are flowers, including narcissus, roses, poppies, and crocus. The Mughal style of creating botanically accurate flowers was informed by the presence of European botanical prints in the court. Birds, such as chukar partridges, demoiselle cranes, pigeons, Indian peafowl, and Birds of Paradise (symbolizing royalty), are also depicted with skillful realism. Below is an activity that can magnify the wide border of the painting. Examine the precision of these rendered images of flowers and birds.