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Milo Cleveland Beach and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[(Khwāja) ‛Abd al-Ṣamad; ‛Abd as-Ṣamad; Abdus Ṣamad]

(fl c. 1540–95).

Iranian miniature painter and calligrapher, active also in India. Trained in Safavid Iran, ‛Abd al-Samad migrated to India, where he became director of the Mughal painting workshops under the emperor Akbar (reg 1556–1605). In this key position, he influenced the development of Mughal painting in the second half of the 16th century more than any other artist (see Indian subcontinent §VI 4., (i), (b)).

No inscribed works by ‛Abd al-Samad are known from the period when he worked in Safavid Iran, though attributions have been proposed, such as a depiction of the assassination of Khusraw Parviz from the copy of the Shāhnāma made for Shah Tahmasp I (reg 1524–76). Already a mature painter, he paid homage in 1544 to Akbar’s father, the Mughal emperor Humayun (reg 1530–40; 1555–6), when the exiled ruler was given refuge at the court of the Safavid shah Tahmasp at Tabriz. In ...


Sheila R. Canby

[Mīr Sayyid ‛Alī-i Tabrīzī]

(b Tabriz, c. 1510; d Mecca, after 1572).

Persian painter, active also in India. He was the son of the Safavid-period painter Mir Musavvir. Though Qazi Ahmad, writing in the late 16th century, deemed him cleverer in art than his father, Mir Sayyid ‛Ali reveals paternal influence in his meticulous rendering of ornamental patterns and details. As he was a junior artist at the time of the royal Shāhnāma of c. 1525–35 (dispersed, see Dickson and Welch), his contribution to this was limited. Only two miniatures (fols 135v and 568r; priv. col. and New York, Met., respectively; see 1979–80 exh. cat., nos 20 and 33) are attributed to him, and possibly passages in other works by Sultan Muhammad and Aqa Mirak. By the time of the illustration of the Khamsa (‘Five poems’) of Nizami of 1539–42 (London, BL, Or. MS. 2265), Mir Sayyid ‛Ali was a first-rank Safavid court artist, painting four (or possibly five) miniatures, three (or possibly four) of which were subsequently removed from the manuscript (Cambridge, MA, Sackler Mus., 1958.75 and 1958.76; Edinburgh, Royal Mus. Scotland, ...


Robert Skelton

[Muḥammad ‛Alī Muzahhib]

(fl c. 1600–10).

Persian painter, active in India. He has been identified from three inscribed works bearing his name: a Seated Poet (Boston, MA, Mus. F.A.), a Seated Youth (Washington, DC, Freer) and the drawing of A Girl in the Binney Collection (San Diego, CA, Mus. A.). The latter, signed Muhammad ‛Ali Jahangir Shahi with the presumed regnal date 5 (ad 1610–11), shows that he worked for the Mughal emperor Jahangir (reg 1605–27) early in his reign. The painting of a Young Prince Riding (Geneva, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan priv. col.) has also been attributed to him. This is close in style to the painting in the Freer Gallery of Art, and the two share a competent but bland indebtedness to the work of Farrukh Beg. The equestrian portrait of Ibrahim ‛Adil Shah II, attributed to Muhammad ‛Ali by S. C. Welch, is now known to be a signed work of ...


Robert Skelton and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

(b c. 1547; d after 1615).

Persian painter, active in India. He went to India at the age of 39. His year of birth, ah 954–5 (ad 1547–8), has been calculated from an inscribed painting, executed when he was 70 in ah 1024. His ethnic origin has been given by Abu’l Fazl as Qalmaq and elsewhere as Qaqshali (a misreading of Qashqa’i?). He evidently received his training in Khurasan, probably from artists associated with the production of a manuscript of Jami’s Haft awrang (‘Seven thrones’; Washington, DC, Freer) for Prince Ibrahim Mirza, governor of Mashhad 1564–77. His earliest surviving work comprises four miniatures in a simplified Khurasani style in a manuscript of Amir Khusraw’s Khamsa (‘Five poems’; Cambridge, King’s Coll.) dated ah 978–9 (ad 1571–2) at Herat. This manuscript evidently travelled to India because the attributions include the title Nadir al-‛Asrī (‘wonder of the age’) bestowed on him by the Mughal emperor Jahangir (...


Philippa Vaughan


(fl c. 1580s–1602).

Indian miniature painter. His only known attributed work is in the Jog-bashisht (1602; Dublin, Chester Beatty Lib., Ind. MS. 5), the Persian translation of a Sanskrit text on Vedanta philosophy. The manuscript has 41 illustrations produced at Allahabad under the patronage of Prince Salim (later the Mughal emperor Jahangir, reg 1605–27). However, Haribans began his career in the 1580s in the studio of Akbar (reg 1556–1605), for he is named 16th of the 17 painters listed in order of seniority in the Āyin-i Akbarī, a contemporary account of Akbar’s administration as it was c. 1590.

The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court (exh. cat. by M. C. Beach; Washington, DC, Freer, 1981) The Art of the Book in India (exh. cat. by J. P. Losty; London, BL, 1982) M. C. Beach: Early Mughal Painting (Cambridge, MA, 1987) L. Y. Leach: Mughal and Other Indian Paintings from the Chester Beatty Library...


Michael Curschmann

The medieval term mappa mundi (also forma mundi, historia/istoire) covers a broad array of maps of the world of which roughly 1100 survive. These have resisted systematic classification, but the clearly dominant type is one that aims at comprehensively symbolistic representation. Its early, schematic form is a disc composed of three continents surrounded and separated from one another by water (“T-O Map”) and associated with the three sons of Noah: Asia (Shem) occupies all of the upper half, Europe (Japhet) to the left and Africa (Ham) to the right share the lower half. Quadripartite cartographic schemes included the antipodes as a fourth continent, but the tripartite model was adopted by the large majority of the more developed world maps in use from the 11th century on and—with important variations—well into the Renaissance. While details were added as available space permitted, the Mediterranean continued to serve as the vertical axis and, with diminishing clarity, the rivers Don and Nile as the horizontal one. The map also continues to be ‘oriented’ towards Asia, where paradise sits at the very top. A circular ocean forms the perimeter and not infrequently the city of Jerusalem constitutes its centre....



John Seyller

[Miskīn; Miskīna]

(fl c. 1580–1604).

Indian miniature painter, son of Mahesh. One of the finest painters at the court of the Mughal emperor Akbar (reg 1556–1605), he combined in his work the elegant rhythms of Persian painting with new European conventions for rendering volume and depth (see fig.). The Āyin-i Akbarī, a contemporary account of Akbar’s administration, lists both Mahesh and Miskin among Akbar’s outstanding painters.

Miskin’s talent allowed him to rise rapidly from apprentice to master in the 1580s. He is named in inscriptions as a colourist, a position usually held by a younger or trainee artist, in two manuscripts commissioned by Akbar early in that decade, the Dārābnāma (‘Story of Darab’; c. 1580; London, BL, Or. MS. 4615) and the Razmnāma (‘Book of wars’; 1582–6; Jaipur, Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Mus., MS. AG. 1683-1850), a Persian translation of the Hindu epic the Mahābhārata. However, in the Tārīkh-i Khāndān-i Tīmūriyya...


Sheila R. Canby

[Mīr Muṣavvir]

(b Termez or Badakhshan, late 15th century; fl Tabriz, c. 1510–48; d India, c. 1555).

Persian illustrator and painter. According to the contemporary chronicler Dust Muhammad, Mir Musavvir and Aqa Mirak were two matchless sayyids in service to the Safavid royal library who did wall paintings for the palace of Prince Sam Mirza and illustrations for royal manuscripts of Firdawsi’s Shāhnāma (‘Book of kings’) and Nizami’s Khamsa (‘Five poems’). Manuchihr Enthroned (fol. 60v) from the monumental copy (dispersed; ex-Houghton priv. col.) of the Shāhnāma made for Tahmasp (reg 1524–76) is signed on a courtier’s turban, and a verse couplet written in the iwan in Nushirwan and the Owls (fol. 15v) in a magnificent copy (London, BL, Or. MS. 2265) of the Khamsa, made for the Shah between 1539 and 1543, says that it was penned by Mir Musavvir in 1539–40. A portrait of the steward Sarkhan Beg (London, BM, 1930–11–12–02) is also inscribed as the work of Mir Musavvir....


Marcella Nesom-Sirhandi

(b Kairana, India, 1937).

Pakistani painter. His father, the painter Abdul Basit, introduced him to miniature painting. He devoted much of his two years at the National College of Arts, Lahore, to an internship with Mohammad Haji Sharif (1889–1978), the last of the old-guard miniature painters in Pakistan. Naqsh’s first major exhibition was held in Lahore (1962); he then moved to Karachi.

Naqsh is among the most accomplished draughtsmen in Pakistan, equally skilled in pencil, pen and ink, watercolour, oil and mixed media. His early figurative work is slightly abstract, reflecting the influence of another mentor, Shakir ’Ali. Colour schemes are often monochromatic or bichromatic in brilliant blues and reds. Other paintings in lighter, more neutral tones suggest the influence of Karachi painter ’Ali Imam (1924–2002).

Naqsh claims no symbolism for his ubiquitous rendering of women and pigeons (usually in combination), depicted realistically as well as abstractly. In ...


J. P. Losty

(b ?Mashhad; fl c. 1580–c. 1610).

Iranian painter active in India. He joined the service of Prince Salim (later the Mughal emperor Jahangir (reg 1605–27)) sometime before 1588; his son was the great painter Abu’l-Hasan. Various inscriptions tell us that Aqa Riza came from Mashhad and that another of his sons was the painter ‛Abid. Whereas Abu’l-Hasan developed consistently as a painter, Aqa Riza’s style remained basically consistent with his Safavid origins, a style of calligraphically drawn lines and surface pattern-making, with a few gestures—such as facial modelling—towards the naturalism for which Mughal painting was aiming under the direction of Akbar (reg 1556–1605). Prince Salim, perhaps out of filial antagonism, tended to favour the Safavid tradition, so that it is no surprise that Aqa Riza gravitated to his service.

Little of Aqa Riza’s work survives from the period before Prince Salim removed himself from his father’s control in 1599 and took up residence at Allahabad. Here some of his artists joined him, including Aqa Riza and Abu’l-Hasan. The ...