Two Wild Buffalo [obverse]; Two Blue Bulls and Two Hog Deer [reverse] from a Baburnama

Artist: Mansur
Designer: Kanha
Historical period(s)
Mughal dynasty, Reign of Akbar, ca. 1589
Mughal Court
Mughal School
Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper
H x W: 25.3 x 15.1 cm (9 15/16 x 5 15/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Manuscript folio

antelope, buffalo, bull, deer, India, landscape, Mughal dynasty (1526 - 1858), nasta'liq script, Reign of Akbar (1556 - 1605), water buffalo
Provenance research underway.

The first Mughal emperor, Babur (reigned 1526-30), wrote memoirs that included precise descriptions of the animals and flowers that he encountered after his arrival in India in 1526. He observed that the blue bull, a kind of antelope, may stand as high as a horse, but it is somewhat lighter in build. The male is bluish-gray, and therefore known as nila-gau [blue bull]. 

This illumination was placed alongside that text in a copy of the Baburnama made for the private use of Babur's grandson, the emperor Akbar (reigned 1556-1605). Babur's interest in minute details of the natural world was continued by many of his successors and is reflected in both the subjects and styles of the works that they commissioned.

Like many Mughal paintings this was a collaborative effort. Kanha created the composition; Mansur painted it.

Published References
  • Great Drawings of All Time. 4 vols., New York. pl. 876.
  • Asok Kumar Das. Wonders of Nature: Ustad Mansur at the Mughal Court. India. p. 26, p. 29.
  • Joan Cummins. Indian Painting: From Cave Temples to the Colonial Period., 1st ed. Boston. p. 37, fig. 3.
  • Stuart Cary Welch. MIniatures from a Manuscript of the Diwan-i-Hafiz. vol. 11, no. 3 Bombay, June 1958. p. 60, fig. 13.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court., 2nd ed. Washington and Ahmedabad, India, 2012. cat. 8D, p. 65.
  • Marjorie Wall Bingham. An Age of Empires, 1200-1750. Oxford and New York, 2005. p. 71.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court. Exh. cat. Washington, 1981. cat. 7, pp. 75-77, 178,50.
  • Rumer Godden. Gulbadan, Portrait of a Rose Princess at the Mughal Court. A Studio Book New York. p. 105.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Gulshan Album and the Workshops of Prince Salim. vol. 73, no. 2 Zurich. pp. 429-77, fig. 12.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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