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painting / manuscript / album

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Yudishthira wrestling with Karna. Page from an illustrated manuscript of the Razmnama. Originally belonged to manuscript dated 1007 AH / AD 1598. Both men, stripped to the waist and standing, embrace one another in this traditional form of wrestling. Two chariots stand on either side while attendents await in the foreground. A hilly landscape with single tree compose the background. No text.

    Ink, opaque watercolour and gold on paper.


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1598
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Width: 17.2 centimetres (sheet)
    • Height: 30 centimetres (sheet)
    • Width: 11.1 centimetres (image)
    • Height: 20.3 centimetres (image)
  • Curator's comments

    Yudishthira, the eldest of the five Pandava brothers, and Karna, his bastard half brother, wrestle in the traditional way, stripped to the waist and standing. This artist has created an archaic mood in his picture by including only bows and arrows and no 'modern' armour.

    By the 1590s Akbar had assembled a large atelier of artists who illustrated the numerous historical, epic and poetical texts written and translated at the emperor's behest. The Razmnameh is the Persian abridged translation of the Mahabharata. The pale green ground and painterly treatment of foliage charaterise the numerous dispersed illustrations of the Razmnameh.As noted by the Persian caption, this painting depicts Yudishthira, the eldest of the five Pandava brothers, wresting his half-brother Karan in the traditional manner, standing and stripped to the waist. The page belongs to a manuscript comprising the second oldest known copy of the Razmnama, an abridged Persian translation of the Mahabharata, the Hindu epic recounting the legendary war between the royal Kaurava and Pandava clans. The translation from Sanskrit was commissioned by the Mughal emperor Akbar (ruled 1556–1605) as part of a campaign to make Persian the court language. This helped appease Hindu opponents and also exposed the Persian literary repertoire to ancient Indian narratives.


  • Bibliography

    • Pinder-Wilson 1976 cat. 63, p.56 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history


    2012 - 2013 7 Aug - 27 Jan, BM, 'Fair Play: Heroes, Athletes & Princes in Islamic Art'

    1976 13 Apr-11 Jul, BM, 'Paintings from the Muslim Courts of India'

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated titles

    • Associated Title: Razmnama
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Middle East

  • Registration number


Painting. General subject - epic. Yudishthira wrestling with Karna. From the Razmnáma. (Acc to register, Yudishthira and Arjuna embracing). On paper.

Painting. General subject - epic. Yudishthira wrestling with Karna. From the Razmnáma. (Acc to register, Yudishthira and Arjuna embracing). On paper.

Image description



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Object reference number: RFM524

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