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Early Encounters

The art of the Great Mughals

The paintings and manuscripts in this section date to an era when the Mughal Empire was richer and stronger than any European power and encompassed much of the Indian subcontinent. The Mughals were a Muslim, Persianspeaking dynasty. Their magnificent courts at Delhi, Agra and Lahore were international centres of art where Indian, Iranian, Central Asian, Chinese and European cultures converged. British royal ambassadors were overawed by the splendours they encountered.

The finest Mughal manuscripts were illuminated (decorated with gold), illustrated with paintings and protected by leather bindings.Their creation was a collaborative effort involving calligraphers, artists and craftsmen.

Wealthy Mughal patrons commissioned artists to paint poetry, portraits, court ceremonies, hunts and battles. Using precious pigments, such as lapis lazuli, malachite and gold, Mughal artists produced some of the world’s most beautiful and delicate miniature masterpieces