Aug 3, 2012

Portrait of Asaf Khan (1569–1641), from the Late Shah Jahan Album

Portrait of Asaf Khan (1569–1641), from the Late Shah Jahan Album

c. 1653

Gum tempera and gold on paper

Image: 19 x 11.9 cm (7 1/2 x 4 11/16 in.); Overall: 38 x 24.8 cm (14 15/16 x 9 3/4 in.); with mat: 49 x 36.3 cm (19 5/16 x 14 5/16 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1945.168


Asaf Khan, born in Iran, was a general and close advisor to Mughal emperors Jahangir (reigned 1605–27) and Shah Jahan (reigned 1627–58). He was also Jahangir’s brother-in-law and Shah Jahan’s father-in-law.
The figures in the borders show that Asaf Khan was both a scholar and a soldier. At the top, mullahs (learned Muslim clerics) with books gesture in discourse, while two soldiers converse at ease below. Three retainers stand at the side presenting a sword, a vase of narcissus, a bow, and arrows. He has strapped on a sheathed sword and tucked a stabbing dagger and book into his elegantly embroidered floral sash.

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