A Heroine Forcibly Enters a Jail to Liberate Heroes, from a Hamzanama

Historical period(s)
Mughal dynasty, Reign of Akbar, third quarter of 16th c.
Mughal Court
Mughal School
Opaque watercolor on cloth
H x W (overall): 71.9 x 55.4 cm (28 5/16 x 21 13/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds, Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Manuscript folio

bow, Hamzanama, Henri Vever collection, India, Mughal dynasty (1526 - 1858), palace, prisoner, Reign of Akbar (1556 - 1605), sword, woman, WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

The Hamzanama recounts fictitious adventures of the Prophet Muhammad's uncle, Hamza, in his journeys to spread the Islamic faith. In this scene, the heroine Khurshidchehr (in upper right holding a sword) disguises herself as a man to penetrate the jail wherein Hamza's son, Hamid, is being held.

This painting belongs to a Hamzanama manuscript that Emperor Akbar (reigned 1556-1605) commissioned when he was about twenty years old. The original manuscript consisted of fourteen volumes, each containing one hundred unusually large illustrations, 150 of which have survived. The manuscript, which took fifteen years to complete by a large workshop of artists, is one of the few surviving illustrated texts of the early Mughal period.

Published References
  • Glenn D. Lowry, Milo Cleveland Beach, Elisabeth West FitzHugh, Susan Nemanzee, Janet Snyder. An Annotated and Illustrated Checklist of the Vever Collection. Washington and Seattle. cat. 40, p.30, 33.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court., 2nd ed. Washington and Ahmedabad, India, 2012. cat. 6G, p. 58.
  • John Seyller. The Adventures of Hamza: Painting and Storytelling in Mughal India. Washington. pp. 272-273, R136.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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