The holy man sits under a tree, an ancient Indian place of honor.
Most paintings in the Late Shah Jahan Album were commissioned specifically for the album, but some older finished works were chosen to be incorporated; they were removed from their original housings and inserted into the new borders. This painting of a Mughal prince visiting a Sufi holy man in his cave dwelling is one example, chosen probably because it underscores the importance of the religious dimension of Mughal life. The conch on the ground before the ascetic is blown at the beginning of prayer, which in the Sufi tradition is often sung to the accompaniment of music. The pair of ducks in the foreground imply the harmonious union of the spiritual and temporal in the Mughal realm. Mendicant Islamic ascetics fill the borders on this page, except for the one noble retainer standing by the prince.
Page from the Late Shah Jahan Album: Prince and Ascetics
(Indian, active c.1596–1645)
India, Mughal court, reign of Shah Jahan (1628-1658), Mughal Dynasty (1526-1756)
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