Gum tempera, ink, and gold on paper
Image: 16 x 9 cm (6 5/16 x 3 9/16 in.)
Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1971.88
Akbar applied an aromatic paste under his arms, which stained his garment.
This scene from an unidentified manuscript depicts entertainers at the Mughal court. The dancers appear to be from the fringes of society, and they may be intended to depict tribal people or semihuman nature spirits. One is dark skinned with small elephant ears and red-rimmed eyes, wearing a white tiger-skin pelt. The female dancer wears a collar of leaves; the male figure on the right has horns, wears bells, and carries an animal-headed club that appears to be made of bone. An exuberant orchestra provides musical and vocal accompaniment below. While not an imperial production, this painting may reference the Mughal emperor Akbar’s practice of welcoming a wide range of people from all regions and traditions to his court, since he was interested in understanding their customs.
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