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A GROUP OF ASCETICS. British Museum
A GROUP OF ASCETICS


At the period of this drawing, which must date from the early years of Shah Jahan's reign, genre pictures, and separate studies of Indian life in its different aspects, had already come into fashion, and with the enormous number of often itinerant sadhus, bairagis, and faqirsascetics, both Hindu and Muhammadan, mendicant or otherwise, who frequented all India, they naturally formed the subject of many paintings. In this picture, both Hindus and Muhammadans are shown, the separate figures being carefully differentiated. A little stiff and symmetrical, the group under the holy banyan tree is nevertheless constructed with considerable originality. The signature appearing at the bottom left-hand corner reads 'Slave of the Lord of the Conjunctions (i.e. Shah Jahan) 'Inayat 104.0 A H' (a.d. 1630-31). This artist painted the beautiful wild goat in the Wantage Album at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is dated a.d. 1607, and also contributed to the Akbar-nama in the Chester Beatty Collection, which must date from the early years of the century. By 1630 he must therefore have had much work behind him. He is described as 'Khanazad', one born in the Royal household, and in the present signature shows a special attachment to the reigning king, or Shah Jahan.