Oriental storytellers like to confront their heroes with mythical animals. The Emperor Akbar is an outstanding patron of culture but he is illiterate, probably because of a disability of dyslexia. His father returning from a long exile had imported to India the tradition of Persian miniatures. Akbar's reign became the golden age of Mughal illuminated tales.
Around the sixth year of his reign, 1562 in our calendar, the young Akbar aged 20 requests an illustrated version of the Hamzanama. This huge project will occupy for fifteen years the artists of his personal workshop led by Persian masters. 1400 miniatures are made in nearly full page on large sheets 71 x 53 cm.
In Akbar's time, the Hamzanama is politically correct for the Muslim world because its hero Amir Hamza, the uncle of Muhammad, is predating the Hegira. The capture of Delhi by Nadir Shah in 1739 is a disaster for this masterpiece which is dismantled. Many pages were probably just destroyed, which would explain why less than 200 are surviving.
On October 20 in London, Christie's sells a fantastic page of Akbar's Hamzanama, lot 89 estimated £ 200K. Another painting known with a very similar writing of the lines under the picture is dated AH 972, 1564-1565 in our calendar.
Hamza has just come to terms with the Rukh. The bird carries the hero to his home. In flight far above the landscape, Hamza is suspending to the legs of the gigantic bird.
SOLD for £ 820K including premium