Five Holy Men

Historical period(s)
Mughal dynasty, ca. 1670
Mughal Court
Mughal School
Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper
H x W (overall): 42.2 x 32.1 cm (16 5/8 x 12 5/8 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, Painting

Detached manuscript folio

ascetic, cymbal, Henri Vever collection, holy man, India, Mughal dynasty (1526 - 1858), prayer beads, Sufi, WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

A young Hindu priest has brought food to an older reclusive Hindu ascetic.  Accompanying him are two other holy men, perhaps Muslims; the man in the lower right may be a servant.  The figures were probably copied from other paintings and simply arranged in this composition, which was a common practice in Mughal painting.  Paintings of religious figures reflect Mughal tolerance of and interest in Hinduism and other religions, including Christianity.  The inscription on the rock, now too effaced to read, originally gave the artist's name.

Published References
  • Ladan Akbarnia, Francesca Leoni. The Light of the Sufis: The Mystical Arts of Islam. Exh. cat. London and New Haven. cat. 11, pp. 36-37.
  • 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. 384, p. 326.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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