Miskin (attributed to), The crow addresses the animals, a mounted miniature in gouache on paper

Mughal dynasty, around AD 1600

Illustration to an animal fable

A throng of creatures from the earth, sea and air gathers around a rocky outcrop to listen to the wise crow, perched on the peak. Among them are dragons, cheetahs, crocodiles, vultures, frogs, scorpions and a simurgh (a mythical bird). This may be an episode from the popular fable of the crows and the owls, whose enmity begins when a crow speaks out against the election of an owl as the leader of the animals.

Animal fables, in which animals enact stories with moral endings, were a traditional and entertaining way to teach young princes the elements of wise statecraft and the pitfalls of human nature. The Mughal emperor Akbar (reigned 1556-1605) was particularly fond of the genre, and ordered an illustrated copy of one such collection called Anvar-i Suhayli ('Lights of Canopus'). He later commissioned a simpler version of the same stories for his young sons, `Iyar-i Danesh ('Pearls of Wisdom').

Find in the collection online

More information


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

J. Cherry, Mythical beasts-3 (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)


Height: 27.000 cm
Width: 19.400 cm

Museum number

ME OA 1920.9-17.05


Transferred from the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books, British Library


Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore