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BASAWAN

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Akbar Watches a Battle Between Two Rival Groups of Sannyasis at Thanesar, c.1570

BASAWAN (India/Pakistan, c.1555-1600)

Miniature on paper. London , Victoria & Albert Museum



Although we do not have many details about his biography, we know that Basawan was the main figure of the Mogul miniature during the reign of Akbar (1556-1605). His masterworks are the miniatures made for the chronicle of the emperor -the AkbarNama- from which this scene is arguably the most outstanding example.

Read from top to bottom, the composition is a dramatic crescendo that begins with a calm, exotic landscape showing Thanesar's architecture and its environs, then features the most important personage in the composition -the emperor himself- accompanied by his crew and a pair of elephants, and the narrative ends with the depiction of the battle in the lower half of the work, reaching its zenith in the scenes in which several men are killed by the enemy's swords.

Text by G. Fernández, www.theartwolf.com

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