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Magnifying manuscripts: Looking for details

Image from 'Book of Emperors' showing group of men in brightly coloured robes.

Many of the images in South Asian manuscripts are both incredibly small and incredibly detailed. You have to look very closely in order to find all the details included in the images.


Image from the Padshahnama©

This image is from the Padshahnama, the ‘Book of Emperors’. It shows Emperor Shah-Jahan receiving his three sons during his accession ceremony. There are lots of details in this image – take a look and see if you can find:

  • flowers on the walls
  • two lions and a lamb
  • a man holding a piece of paper
  • a shield
  • a man wearing clothing with people embroidered on the fabric (clue: he is wearing yellow)
Image from the Padshahnama©

This image shows noblemen, guards and musicians of Shah-Jahan’s court. There are lots of details in this image – take a close look, and see if you can find:

  • a group of musicians (a nawbat)
  • a golden bell
  • a green, orange and gold flag
Image from the Bhagavata Purana©

This final image is an illustration from the Hindu epic text the Bhagavata Purana. It tells the story of Prahlada, who is being sent away to school by his father, Hiranyakashipu. Can you work out which person in the picture is Prahlada, and which person is his father? (clue: they are the main characters in this story, and so they would be somewhere where everyone can see them).

Can you also find these details:

  • ropes holding up an orange canopy (clue: a canopy is like a tent)
  • people wearing crowns – how many people wearing crowns can you see?

If you visit our Eastern Encounters exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Edinburgh, why not look for more interesting details in the paintings and manuscripts on display?


Eastern Encounters
The long relationship between the Crown and South Asia

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.