Basawan Miniatures

Basawan Miniatures
Basawan Miniatures
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In the two miniatures that we provide in this post we can discover the characteristics of the art of Basawan, the great painter of the reign of Akbar I (1556–1605). In fact, this character about whom we do not have much information became the great graphic chronicler of the Mughal emperor. And that he was possibly born in Uttar Pradesh, a region of India, and belonged to a family with no ties to that Persian dynasty.

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Basawan Thumbnail

However, his artistic ability made him successful in the second half of the 16th century and furthermore his artistic lineage was continued by his sonManoharat the end of that century and the beginning of the next.

Of the entire body of works attributed to Basawan, the Akbar Nama (the biography of Emperor Akbar) is undoubtedly the most interesting and famous. And it is because in that story that has historical data, but also a lot of praise and even fantasy, the perfect conditions are given for him to develop all his artistic capacity and exploit all his qualities for the illustrated story.

For example if we look at the first miniature, it is telling us about a battle in the surroundings of Thanesar. A scene that must be read and interpreted from top to bottom. First we see the peaceful landscape of that area, and then give all the prominence to the figure ofEmperor Akbar, who is followed by his court,including his elephants. In this first part of the work everything is pageantry and elegance. While in the middle of the bottom, everything is action and drama, without missing many gory details.

That capacity for detail is amazing in these miniatures and it is something that we can also see in the second plate. There he tells us how Akbar I, riding one of his elephants, named Hawaii, tries to capture another tremendously fierce elephant that threatens chaos in the city ofAgra. In fact, the trot of these animals sows chaos on the bridge that crosses the river and the whole environment.

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Akbar's Adventures

Dynamism and realistic details are assured, and all of it is rendered with those typical perspectives of Persian art. And thanks to that we discover one of Basawan's great abilities, and that is his ability to represent space. Undoubtedly that, and the vividness of his color are the differential notes of his creations, and what later many other miniaturists of theMughal Empire, and even from other cultures, wanted to emulate Asian

It is true that he knew works of western artists, and tried to adapt some ideas of perspectives to his works. But of course Basawan was a purely Asian creator, and what he was able to learn by seeing miniatures and illustrations carried by Christian and Jesuit missionaries traveling toAsia, he only adapted to traditional representations of their culture

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