Search results

Start typing

Eastern Encounters pattern
Eastern Encounters

Drawn from the Royal Library's collection of South Asian books and manuscripts

CAT. NO. 10

Poetry in a landscape by La'l, calligraphy by Abdullah al-Husayni and Sultan Muhammad Nur

Mughal, <i>c.</i>1600

Folio from an early Mughal album (see cat. no. 3) | A composite page: colour and black inks, watercolour and opaque watercolour including metallic paint on dyed, marbled and gold-flecked papers; set into margins of golf metallic paint on light brown paper | 37.1 × 24.0 cm (folio); 25.0 × 13.8 cm (panel) | RCIN 1005043

The Persian verses on the left of this folio, written by the calligrapher Abdullah al-Husayni, are by the poet Sa’di (see cat. no. 1):

If the Friend [God] gives me a thousand lives
I shall throw them over your blessed feet
Every decree that you pass on my head
Is light, I shall not reject it
Though my house is miserable and dark
I shall show it to your luminous eyes
There is no light when, due to my estrangement from you,
I do not elevate my lament to high heaven
I know that tyranny is not permissible
Allow it [heaven] to hear my complaint.[31] 

Instead of the ordered, enclosed garden of cat. no. 9, the figures here occupy a wild and open landscape setting and, in contrast to the Iranian aesthetic, the artist (again La'l) demonstrates a different aspect of his oeuvre in line with the Occidentalist style prevalent in Mughal painting of the 1580s and 1590s. Both figures wear long, high-waisted classical dresses with sandals on their feet. The lady on the right is seated on what appears to be a truncated classical column, although a distinctly Eastern large bolster cushion supports her from behind.

European ambassadors and missionaries often presented gifts of printed books and engravings, both religious and secular in content, to members of the Mughal court. Images of classical goddesses or muses were evidently made available to La'l. Here he not only emulates a style of classical Western attire, but his painterly treatment of the drapery clearly echoes the strong tonal contrasts of sixteenth-century European engravings. The townscape set in the distant background and the cat at the ladies’ feet are also elements typical of Northern Renaissance imagery which were subsumed into the Mughal visual language.

  • ustad la'l / master La'l

  • [31] Translation by Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani. See Kolliyat-e sa’adi-e Shirazi (Forughi ed. 1963), ghazal 418, couplets 1, 3, 6, 8 and 337.

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.