“With whom do you hold parties? With whom do you drink wine?” —Babur
For Babur, diplomacy took many forms. Musical performances, receptions, and drinking parties were all forms of statecraft, designed to build alliances between wary nobles and the fledgling ruler. The mountains around Kabul, which Babur captured in 1504, provided many opportunities for scenic, multiday outings. The Baburnama contains detailed accounts of the dignitaries who were present, the gifts exchanged, and the general conduct at these receptions. Bolstered by wine and narcotics, these events sometimes turned into raiding parties, which were essential to consolidating Babur’s meager territory. From Kabul, Babur launched a series of expeditions into India, eventually defeating the Lodi dynasty of Delhi at the Battle of Panipat in 1526.
Like Babur, the Persian artist Farrukh Beg was an emigre to the Indian subcontinent. Arriving at the court of Babur’s grandson Akbar, he contributed these exquisitely detailed paintings that were bound into the first imperial copy of the Baburnama, which was completed in 1589.