With Mughals organised hunt was a kind of routine festivity occurring at least once a year or more frequently but the hunt depicted here was not part of such routine.The event occurred when Akbar was completing twelth year of his ascendance. According to Tarikh-i-Alfi it was so massive that 50 thousand men were deployed to accomplish it and that a hunt of this level was never repeated.. The entire area from hills on one side and to river Jhilum on the other was divided into sectors and each sector was put to the charge of one accountable officer. Birds and animals were to be driven from all sides to the centre of the arena which was enclosed with the help of wooden barricades. In the middle of the arena emperor's royal pavilion was set. A ring was created for cheetah tamed and trained for hunting. The periphery was manned by armed personnels. When the expedition began cheetah were let loose to charge at animals driven there. Cooks were alike ready to skin the prey for cooking so that immediately after the expedition was over, the feast could be provided. Bullock carts too were in readiness for transporting the hunt to the capital.
As per limitations set by the canvas the action has been compressed into an area encircled by barricades but exactly as described in Akbar-nama. Akbar, the great Mughal emperor, riding his white horse is seen charging at animals gathered in the arena, the black buck, barasinghah, nilgai, spotted gazelles, jackals, foxes, rabbits and many more. The arrow shot by the emperor hits a barasingha. Pain bursts out it open mouth and fear makes it flee but only to collapse. Akbar's figure is bent obviously in concentration over his kill. The details contained in the text have been carried out in this painted version with as much exactness. Border of the painting is as much powerful. The use of gold is simply lavish though not a streak of it has been used in the painting. This was obviously due to Akbar's pronounced preference for simplicity.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain
specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr
Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the
National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated
on numerous books on Indian art and culture.
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