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THE SIESTA. Ahmadnagar, about 1605. Staatliche Museen, Berlin
THE SIESTA


This miniature formed part of the collection made by Major Polier, a Swiss soldier who lived in India from 1757 to 1788. In the centre of the inner frame of the mount is inscribed in Persian "Lord of the Deccan" (Badshah-i-Dekhan). This inscription is not earlier than Polier. Many of Polier's pictures are 18th-century copies. Even if the 'Siesta' is claimed as such, it must be recognized that it retains the quality of the original to an extent unparalleled in other known copies.
The 'Siesta' stands very close in style to the portrait of Burhan II. It is possible that the drowsing prince is Murtaza II, who was placed on the throne by Malik Ambar in 1602. At Ambar's death he was controlled by Ambar's son, Fath Khan, and put to death by him in 1630. He was, in the harsh judgment of the historian, effeminate and slothful, qualities which have often made a generous patron if not a good king.
The prince lies beneath a large plane tree. The high landscape seems also to be derived from late Akbar painting, though Ahmadnagar had contact with the original European source through the Portuguese settlement at Chaul, south of Bombay. The landscape is however treated not as a naturalistic setting to the figures but as a formal component of the design. The two kneeling pages are Abyssinians. One massages the prince's leg, the other offers wine. Both wear the elaborate gold belts and jewelled armbands of the subsidiary figures in the Burhan II portrait. The standing sword-bearer wears the four-pointed coat.