Zardhang Khatni Brings the Ring to Maltas the Prison Keeper from The Hamzanama

Artist: Attributed to Shravana , Mithra, and Madhava Khurd Mahesh Mithra
Historical period(s)
Mughal dynasty, Reign of Akbar, ca. 1570
Mughal Court
Mughal School
Opaque watercolor and gold on cotton cloth
H x W: 67.5 x 51.6 cm (26 9/16 x 20 5/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Painting

Manuscript folio

Hamzanama, India, Mughal dynasty (1526 - 1858), Reign of Akbar (1556 - 1605)
Provenance research underway.

The Persian Hamzanama, or Story of Hamza, consists of a series of wild and fantastic adventures, and was a favorite of the young Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556-1605).

The Hamzanama's mélange of fact, fiction, and folktales revolves around heroic Hamza and his friend Aemr, who spread Islam throughout the world. The episode depicted here centers on the prison keeper Maltas, whose plump, seated figure is seen to the upper right, listening with boredom and disbelief to a tale told by dark-skinned Zardhank. Using the characteristic mode of multiple perspective, the artist presents an undisturbed view of the fort's exterior walls as well as all its interior activities.

Published References
  • Anis Farooqi. Art of India and Persia. New Delhi. pl. 30.
  • Richard Ettinghausen. Paintings of the Sultans and Emperors of India in American Collections. Lalit Kala Series of Indian Art New Delhi. pl. 2.
  • Krishna Chaitanya. A History of Indian Painting. 5 vols., New Delhi, 1976-1994. Vol. 2, pl. 23.
  • Capolavori nei secoli: Enciclopedia di tutte i popoli in tutti i tempi. 12 vols., Milan, 1961 - 1964. vol. 3: p. 215.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court. Exh. cat. Washington, 1981. cat. 5c, pp. 22, 64-5.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court., 2nd ed. Washington and Ahmedabad, India, 2012. cat. 6F, p. 57.
  • Massumeh Farhad, Serpil Bagci. Falnama: The Book of Omens. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 63, pp. 208-9.
  • John Seyller. The Adventures of Hamza: Painting and Storytelling in Mughal India. Washington. cat. 72, pp. 221, 269, R105.
  • The Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor. Washington and New York. p. 357.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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