Shah Jahan's state portraits became progressively stiffer. Painters felt
constrained to record only what was suited to the full court. Here, Shah
Jahan sits upon a sumptuously incrusted Peacock Throne which has an
ornamental backrest furnished with large cylindrical cushion, which is a
characteristic component of Mughal thrones. The painting assumes a glacial
hardness of the stones Shah Jahan so admired. He is seen in fullest glory -
as a votive image of a state cult. The emperor is attired in a long angrakha
reaching almost to his ankles. The wrinkled pyjama is, however, visible.
Over the angrakha, Shah Jahan wears a short coat. Around the waist is a sash
with both the edges falling in front. The turban is typical of his reign
with a broad band which is ornamental.
In the background can be seen, the Taj Mahal, the tomb of his beloved wife
who died after having borne fourteen children. A lotus pond with a lone swan
is also visible. An oval picture in a square frame was a popular style. The
ends are decorated in floral patterns in gold pigment which has been used
extensively all over the painting. The ostentatious painting has a border of
naturalistic flowers, leaves and stems completely devoid of the overbearing
However masterful the painting, however refulgent the halo and however
jewel-like the colors, the space around Shah Jahan is a vacuum in which he
is hermetically isolated.
This description by Renu Rana.
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