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A female figure standing in a landscape holding a four-stringed “khuuchir” and a lotus

A female figure standing in a landscape holding a four-stringed “khuuchir” and a lotus

c. 1590

Mughal India, court of Akbar

(reigned 1556–1605)

Gum tempera and gold on paper

Page: 31.6 x 20.7 cm (12 7/16 x 8 1/8 in.)

Gift in honor of Madeline Neves Clapp; Gift of Mrs. Henry White Cannon by exchange; Bequest of Louise T. Cooper; Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund; From the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 2013.311

Did you know?

The four strings of the woman’s khuuchir would have been made from silk.

Description

Standing over flowering sprigs, holding a lotus like a scepter, the figure seems to magically impart fertility to a desert. In pan-Indian religious iconography (system of visual symbols that identify a figure), the lotus is held by the goddess of good fortune, prosperity, and abundance, who is frequently associated with ideal kingship. The stringed instrument recalls the Indian goddess of learning and music, but here it is of a Mongolian type, as is the feather in her crown. Her garments are reminiscent of those worn by biblical and classical figures in European engravings. This painting combines Indian, European, and Mongolian references.

See also

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