Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Mughal artist at work

Unknown Mughal artist
The Lady Paints a Self-Portrait while Her Attendant Faces Her Holding a Mirror
Image from the Khamsa-e-Nizami

Pakistan (1590s)

I was thrilled to find this image when I happened to stumble upon a wonderful blog called "Self Portraits of Color" should totally check it out! The image above shows a lady painting a self-portrait while her attendant holds a mirror before her. Another servant is fanning her, or perhaps swatting away insects. It is a detail from within this larger piece:

Unknown Mughal artist
Image from the Khamsa-e-Nizami

Pakistan (1590s)
The British Library
Mughal painting is a style of South Asian art that developed from the Persian Miniature tradition. It was influenced by many different cultures and groups such as Hindus, Muslims, Jains, and Buddhists. It was practiced mainly during the Mughal empire in the 16th-19th C, centered in the Indian subcontinet and Afghanistan. Because I know very little about Mughal art I am going to quote directly:
 "Even though the highly-educated and cultured women of the zenana certainly did commission albums and paintings, the imperial artists would not have been allowed into the zenana [n.b. In India and Iran, the zenana was the part of a house where the women lived in seclusion] to get a glimpse of them. There are a few portraits of this period which appear to be of actual women, taken from life, and it has been suggested that these were executed by female artists within the zenana (there are signed works by at least two female artists from Jahangir’s reign)." 
~Mugal Art 
The author of the blog Self-Portraits of Color has suggested that the artist who created this piece might be Sahifa Banu. If anyone reading this has expert knowledge of this period and can tell us more about the piece, please do chime in! 


Ng Yi-Sheng said...

Thanks for mentioning my blog! It's Sahifa Banu, btw!

Nancy Bea Miller said...

My pleasure! And thanks, I corrected Sahifa's name. :-)