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Chingiz Khan Dividing His Empire Between His Sons (Illustration from the Chingiz-nama)

Chingiz Khan Dividing His Empire Between His Sons (Illustration from the Chingiz-nama)
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Item Code: ME80
Illuminated Miniature Painting On Vasli Paper
Artist Kailash Raj
10.5" x 14.5"
This magnificent miniature, contained within a fine elegant floral border, depicts Chingiz Khan, one of the two legendary figures of Central Asia, the other being Timur, dividing his empire between his sons. The painting illustrates the event as it occurred in Chingiz-nama, i.e., the History of Chingiz Khan, which formed part of Jami at-Tavarikh of the known medieval historian Rashid ad-Din, now mostly in Gulshan Palace , Tehran. Chingiz-nama was one of the several texts illustrated at the royal atelier of the Mughal emperor Akbar by his court artists under the orders of the emperor.

The work of illustrating Chingiz-nama was undertaken around A.D. 1596-97. The folio depicting Chingiz Khan dividing his empire amongst his sons was drawn and composed by Akbar's known master artist Baswan and its colouring part was accomplished by Bhim of Gujarat, known as Bhim Gujarati. This miniature painting re-creates, in absolute exactness and with the same finish and finesse, what Baswan and Bhim Gujarati had rendered some five hundred years ago. The folio takes the viewer back to Akbar's era and provides a peep-hole into his royal atelier and, at the same time, brings the strokes of Baswan's and Bhim's brushes at his threshold. The corresponding folio by Baswan and Bhim is now with the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Chingiz Khan was the twelfth ascendant of the Mughal emperor Babur on his maternal side. Chingiz Khan and Timur were two mighty Islamic rulers of Central Asia who invaded India several times and inflicted great brutalities and plundered her immensely. For centuries their memories shook Indian community and they were held in great abhorrence. However, differently, in Islamic communities of Central Asia and even beyond, they were as much esteemed, for in their eyes their act of ransacking non-believers, with whatever aim, was a crusade. Chingiz Khan was, however, held in greater reverence for reasons other than his crusade against non-believers. He was the first amongst Mongols to codify their social and ethical norms and set standards of conduct and social interaction for Mongolian communities. Tura-e-Chingizi and its supplementary Yasa-e-Chingizi, the memoirs of Chingiz Khan, set for Mongols the essential codes of conduct in social and personal life and were as much revered as Manusmriti in Indian society. Chingizi norms of etiquette are still held in high reverence.

Chingiz Khan had nine sons. When he grew old and his sons ambitious, he decided to divide his empire amongst his nine sons. This folio depicts the same occasion. As in ancient India, in Central Asia too, the emperor was accompanied by his principal queen when he held his court and was assisted by her in decision taking. Accordingly, along with Chingiz Khan there is on the throne also his principal queen. His nine sons are seated opposite them. Maids are busy in serving drinks and snacks and making other arrangements. One of them is carrying a casket and other some item wrapped in a silk cloth, may be, some items of invaluable worth to be divided on the spot. Two females, outside the court-yard, are engaged in discussion. Some persons with gifts for the occasion have gathered outside. They are being instructed by the keeper of the gate to wait for further direction. Intricate architecture, emotionally charged faces, minute details, softened colour scheme, fine execution, an accomplished composition and unique colour balance characterise the miniature.

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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