The shrine covering the gravesite of Mu'in al-Din Chishti (d. 1236), a revered Sufi (Muslim mystic), is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in India. This nim qalam (half-tone) painting shows the gold-nimbused Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (r. 1658-1707) presenting a donation to the custodians of this famous shrine, an event that most likely took place during his 1679-1681 military campaigns in Rajasthan. An ostrich egg, an auspicious symbol of life and rebirth, hangs over the saint's grave, while in the painting's lower registers throngs of military personnel (on the left) and colorfully garbed courtiers (on the right) gather in attendance. Minute Persian inscriptions identify the two young pearl-and-gem-adorned men as Aurangzeb's sons Bahadur Shah and A'zam Shah. This nostalgically retrospective painting may date from the former's brief reign, from 1707-1712, a period that many historians believe marks the beginning of the Mughal dynasty's political decline.
- Yael Rice, 2015
emperors; figures; inscriptions; nobility; interiors; soldiers; weapons
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