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Paintings > Mughal > Jahangir's Dream: The Inner Workings of an Emperor's Mind
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Jahangir's Dream: The Inner Workings of an Emperor's Mind

Jahangir's Dream: The Inner Workings of an Emperor's Mind

Jahangir's Dream: The Inner Workings of an Emperor's Mind

Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan were the three most eminent emperors of the brilliant Mughal dynasty. These three successive reigns corresponded to the golden age of Mughal art. Views of the magnificent reign of Jahangir and images of imperial splendor were skillfully painted on paper.

This ambiguous and brilliantly executed miniature is among the most original products of imperial Mughal painting. A number of complicated iconographic formulae are vividly presented by the artist in this remarkable picture. In his attempt to portray an imaginary meeting of the two emperors visualized in a dream, the artist depicts it as an unearthly, supernatural event. The scene is set against an immense halo composed of the resplendent sun and a fantastic crescent moon in the bluish green sky.

Jahangir, the holder of the whole world proudly stands on a huge globe and embraces the bending figure of Abbas Shah (king of Persia). The figure of Jahangir is bigger in size than the Shah and the attitude of the Mughal emperor is that of a great monarch generously patronizing an inferior rival. Jahangir is the larger and infinitely the more self-confident monarch, firmly embracing Shah whose arms cannot fit around the more robust figure of his royal brother and who is almost made to stoop in a deferential attitude.

This highly partial assessment of their relative strength is symbolized in the animals on which they stand. Jahangir stands on a sturdy lion, the king of beasts sprawled across India and Persia, whereas the Shah is made to stand on a meek lamb pushed over into the Mediterranean. The globe on which they stand symbolically illustrates the whole world which they have divided between themselves, with, of course, the lion's share going to the Mughal. The terrestrial globe which is very close to European examples of the period, shows with some cartographical accuracy, the regions of the world. A pair of winged cherubs taken from European paintings complete the painting.

This description by Renu Rana.

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Artist Kailash Raj

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