The donkey, in a tiger’s skin, reveals his identity by braying aloud, from a Tuti-nama (Tales of a Parrot): Thirty-first Night

The donkey, in a tiger’s skin, reveals his identity by braying aloud, from a Tuti-nama (Tales of a Parrot): Thirty-first Night

c. 1560

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attributed to Basavana

(Indian, active c. 1560–1600)

Mughal India, court of Akbar

(reigned 1556–1605)

Gum temper, ink, and gold on paper

Overall: 20.3 x 14 cm (8 x 5 1/2 in.); Painting only: 13.8 x 10 cm (5 7/16 x 3 15/16 in.)

Gift of Mrs. A. Dean Perry 1962.279.207.a

Location

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The complex brushwork, soft grass, and furry tiger’s skin are characteristics of the artist Basavana’s distinctive style.

Description

This painting illustrates a story about a merchant who owned a donkey but did not have enough money to feed him. He was able to secure a tiger’s skin, in which he dressed his donkey at night, so he could forage freely in fields, frightening away the owners’ watchmen, seen here scrambling up in trees for safety. He succeeded for a time and grew fat and healthy, until a nearby donkey brayed, and he instinctively answered, revealing his true identity.

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