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Manohar (attributed to), Emperor Jahangir weighing his son Khurram in gold, an album-painting in gouache on paper


Height: 303.000 mm
Width: 188.000 mm

ME OA 1948.10-9.069

Middle East

    Manohar (attributed to), Emperor Jahangir weighing his son Khurram in gold, an album-painting in gouache on paper

    Mughal dynasty, around AD 1615

    A display of the riches of the Mughal emperors

    This scene illustrates an event in 1607 described in the Mughal emperor Jahangir's memoirs, the Tuzuk-i Jahangiri ('regulations of Jahangir'). Twice a year, on the first day of both the solar and lunar years, it was customary for the emperor, or one of his sons, to be weighed against 'gold and silver and other metals, [and] all sorts of silks and cloths and various grains'. The emperor's weight in treasure would then be distributed to the poor. This was a tradition started by Jahangir's father Akbar (reigned 1556-1605). The ceremony took place at an auspicious hour, as calculated by astrologers, and holy men held the ropes of the scales, invoking blessings and prayers during the weighing. Here, the young prince Khurram, the future Shāh Jahan (reigned 1628-57), sits in one of the large scales as his father, Emperor Jahangir, gauges his weight against bags of gold. Generals and ministers of the court observe the ceremony. Tiny inscriptions state the identity of each of the main figures. Trays laid out in the foreground show further riches to be weighed, and a treasurer notes the proceedings in a book.

    Both the emperor and the prince have haloes of light around their faces, denoting their imperial status. The details of the scene, such as the jewellery, weapons, luxurious carpets, the golden throne and the Chinese porcelains displayed on the pavilion wall, are most likely intended to demonstrate the enormous wealth of the Mughals.

    J.M. Rogers, Mughal miniatures (London, The British Museum Press, 1993)

    M. Cleveland Beach, The Grand Mogul: imperial pain (Massachusetts, 1978)

    A. Rogers and H. Beveridge, The Tuzuk-I-Jahangiri or Memoi, revised edition (Delhi, 1968)


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