An Illiterate Bibliophile

Although Babur’s grandson Akbar did not read (he may have been dyslexic), he appreciated the power of the written word. He listened to books recited at court and commissioned illustrated manuscripts—among them the Baburnama. This folio is from the chronicle of Akbar’s own reign, the Akbarnama. Enthroned at the center of a bustling court, Akbar listens expectantly to the report of a victorious battle, which the messenger also bears on a written scroll.

Akbar Receives News of the Victory at Gogunda in 1576
From an Akbarnama (Book of Akbar)
Attributed to Manohar (act. 1582–ca. 1624)
India, Mughal dynasty, ca. 1596–1600
Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper
Purchase—Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art