‘Mughal Painting’ is a style of South Asian painting developed in the courts of Mughal Emperors (16th to 19th Century.)


Persian Miniature Paintings dictated the expanse, with influences from Hindu, Jain and Buddhist patterns. Illustrated manuscripts, letters, tiny paintings, art and gifts were decorated with Mughal Miniatures made in bold and traditional colours, with gorgeous design, and precise detailing done with brushes as thin as containing a single, rough hair strand. Emperor Humayun started the process in 1556 C.E. and was succeeded by Emperor Akbar, who laid the foundations for a unique convergence of Persian, Indian and European art structures. 

‘Narrative Painting’ is a term derived from paintings and illustrations for books and manuscripts kept by official regards, court poets, even queens and kings. Some albums were collected as keepsakes with a single painting each inside one album cover. Indian traditional forms of art in Mughal times mingled into the ‘Safavid School’ of Persian artmaking. ‘Safavid Art’ formed part of the empirical history of Iran from 1501 to 1722 C.E. (present day Iran and Caucasia.) Art on and inside books, ceramics, glass, garden hedges, sandstones and paper as well as architecture with calligraphy was and remains its most special entity in the world. 

Under Jehangir’s reign, (1605 to 1627 C.E.) paintings and art became more detailed, refined and arranged to allow dignity, prosperity and rare charm. Within the rule of the Mughal Sultanate, subjects like political conquests, portraits, court scenes, dance performances, secular texts, conflicts and wars, mythological accounts and scenes from bazaars were depicted in majestic scale. Animals, birds, nature have formulated fragments of the art of our history and even contemporary works amid humans from diverse social strata, to emperors’ portrayals and harem passages. It is believed that a large part of these art works was drawn from life, but a few of them were even fictionalised and elevated with storytelling. 

Mughal Art is a grand synthesis of minute detailing and rich colours. Shades of vermillion and red lead were principal colours of the times, along magenta, copper, gold, orange, green, yellow and steel gray. Metallic hues and paint powder were rare elements of Mughal art. Art forms smoothly varied under segmented princely courts across Hindustan. An alteration in the poshakh, (traditional clothing) singhar, (pieces of jewellery) face cuts of the awaam, (people of the land) kinds of animals, religion, heaps of currency and literature could be perceived from collections of art. 

Mughal Arts, in entirety, form a massive part of our painted works, film, literary genres, picture albums, sketches, songs and sartorial choices in current times. The elements of our art, as we see, are borrowed and brewed, even collected with intention from our histories and traditional tales of wonder, richness, wavering eras, realities of the times, and even rare ideals that were, that are, and shall remain etched in layers of a soft stone that is this universe.