From: Los Angeles County Museum of Art Limited Edition: 3 Exhibition: King of the World: A Mughal Manuscript From the Royal Library, Windsor Castle Material: Printed 2-ply vinyl Dimensions: 35" x 96" (88cm x 243cm)
Hanging Hardware Included
The 17th century Mulghul emperor Shah-Jahan’s perspective on religious freedom was extraordinarily progressive, even by modern-day standards. Shah-Jahan’s empire consisted of people of Muslim, Hindu, and Christian faiths, and he believed people should be treated fairly. Inter-faith marriages were commonplace, and in fact, Shah-Jahan’s mother was Hindu, as were many of the artists involved in the King of the World manuscript.
The exhibition King of the World: A Mughal Manuscript From the Royal Library, Windsor Castle featured the manuscript, Padshahnama. Considered the greatest Mughal manuscript of all time, Padshahnama (Persian for Chronicle of the King of the World) was handwritten by court scribe Abdul-Hamid Lahawri (or Lahori) and contains 44 small illustrations by 14 court painters. The manuscript chronicles the first 10 years of Shah-Jahan’s 30 year reign. Shah-Jahan was the fifth emperor of Mughal during the empire’s most prosperous time.
One of 40 Islamic manuscripts in the British Royal Library, the Padshahnama was gifted to King George III in 1799, and before this exhibition, had previously only been viewed in its entirety by the royal family. The manuscript was unbound so that restorations could be made in preparation for the 50th anniversary of India’s independence in 1997. After its seven city world tour, the Padshahnama was to be rebound, limiting future opportunities for viewing in full.
Completed in 1655, the manuscript served as both a work of art and a historical account of royal court functions, such as the exchange of diplomatic gifts. Exotic animals and bejeweled turbans were in much favor and are depicted throughout the Padshahnama, as are images of men conquering forts and animals. Since women were not to be seen due to the Islamic law of purdah, they were seldom represented.
Best known for his architectural achievements, including the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort, Shah-Jahan also made a contribution to portraiture of the time. His portraits, like the one shown on the front of the banner used to promote the exhibition, always emphasized surface decoration, such as pearl necklaces and pendants with jewels. The back of the banner is mostly black with a shamsa (image of the sun) in red in the center. A shamsa is a geometric grid commonly placed on the front of a manuscript to represent Islamic divine order. “KING of the WORLD through May 17” appears in large gold letters above and below the shamsa with the LACMA logo in white. The banner is trimmed at top and bottom with a floral design in a red band.
This banner was displayed around the Los Angeles area between February 22 through May 17, 1998 to promote the exhibition King of the World: A Mughal Manuscript From the Royal Library, Windsor Castle. LACMA was the fifth stop on a seven city world tour.