• Sunil Sharma deposited The Production of Mughal Shahnamas on Humanities Commons 1 month ago

    This paper studies the interest of the early Mughals in the Shahnameh and survey the range of illustrated manuscripts of this text produced in North India in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Although there were several older copies of the Shahnameh in the imperial library, and the emperor Akbar (r. 1556-1605) is said to have enjoyed listening to recitations of the epic, there is scant evidence for sumptuous copies of this work produced in the royal atelier. The art historian Som Prakash Verma has written that, in fact, there were no imperial Shahnamehs produced in this period, while the art historian John Seyller suggests that they were indeed produced in Agra, but for certain nobles who were in Mughal service. As Persianate culture became more cosmopolitan in India and the literary canon expanded to include works of Indian origin, the Shahnameh does seem to have received less attention at the highest levels at the Mughal court. It would, however, be simplistic to claim that all the early Mughal rulers had the same attitude towards the epic. Instead, it is more fruitful to look at individual attitudes based on the evidence provided by historical sources and certain extant manuscripts. This will help to better understand a wide range of Mughal Shahnameh production.