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Alamshah cleaving asunder the chain of the wheel, from volume 11 of a Hamza-nama (Adventures of Hamza)

Alamshah cleaving asunder the chain of the wheel, from volume 11 of a Hamza-nama (Adventures of Hamza)

c. 1560s–70s

Mughal India, court of Akbar

(reigned 1556–1605)

Gum tempera, ink, and gold on cotton and paper

Page: 83.7 x 67 cm (32 15/16 x 26 3/8 in.)

Gift of George P. Bickford 1976.74

Did you know?

The title in the bottom margin is a continuation of the text on the previous page.


Wielding a curved sword, and with a stabbing dagger tucked into his belt, the hero, Alamshah the Greek, perches on a cliff above a rushing torrent of water. He has just slain the villain who raised the massive bronze plug on the dam in order to wash away the camp of Alamshah’s father, Hamza. The villain here was a demon; this epic elides the historical with the mythical. Hamza was battling forces of infidelity to Islam as well as enemies of Iran.
This page came from a 14-volume book commissioned by Emperor Akbar. Astonishing in size and scale, the paintings reveal Akbar’s preference for dramatic action.

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