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Image of The emissaries return to Chanda’s father Rao Mihr and he seeks counsel

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The emissaries return to Chanda’s father Rao Mihr and he seeks counsel

Creation date: late 16th century
Creation place: India

Other Information

Type: Watercolor Painting
Medium and Support: Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Credit Line: Edwin Binney 3rd Collection
Accession Number: 1990.257
State/Province: Delhi or Uttar Pradesh
Dimensions: 10 3/32 x 7 23/32 in. (25.6 x 19.6 cm)


Heeramaneck Galleries, New York, New York ( - October 16, 1965)

Edwin Binney 3rd, San Diego, California (October 16, 1965 - August 27, 1990)

San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California (August 27, 1990 - )

Label Copy

March 2005
Origins of Mughal Painting
Shown here are two pages from a lavishly illustrated romance that tells the adventures of two lovers, Laurak and Chanda. Produced just before the founding of the Mughal atelier, the manuscript is a crowning achievement of the Indo-Persian hybrid style. The story itself was written by an Indian Muslim, in a local Indian dialect of the Ganges River region, but using Persian script. The Indian painter, probably a Hindu, followed Persian conventions of the vertical book format and pastel coloring, while retaining the Indian penchant for compartmentalized spaces, profile view, sharp lines, and alert angular gestures. Though the grassy tufts scattered across the backgrounds are Persianate, the marvelous globular tree is reminiscent of indigenous Indian types as seen in the page with Krishna in Section II (1990:579). The dramatically swirling skies and textile patterns are distinctive to this manuscript and add to the emotion of the scene.
The figures, leafy ground cover, and some of the pink background in one of these two paintings have been overpainted (1990:258). The other page with three registers (1990:257) has not been overpainted at all, and despite its somewhat damaged condition, the sensitivity and delicacy of the painting is clearly visible throughout this work. This manuscript exhibits a complete melding of Indian and Persian traditions into a fresh new harmonious work of art and literature. The painters who formulated and mastered this hybrid style were prominent members of the new Mughal atelier under Akbar.

The Chandayan is the earliest work in the genre of “Sufi romance,” stories of lovers whose quest for union mirrors the mystic’s search for spiritual truth. The narratives originate from local folk repertoires and were adapted to suit the multiple levels of meaning required by the genre.

The Chandayan tells of the affair of Chanda and Laurak, each of whom is married. The painting on the left depicts a scene from early in the story, when Princess Chanda’s beauty arouses the lust of Rao Rupchand, who with his formidable army besieges the city of her father, Rao Mihr. In the top register, Mihr’s emissaries return with a report of Rupchand’s warlike intentions. Warriors and horses shown in the lower registers are possibly a peace offering sent by Mihr.

Once Laurak, a warrior in Mihr’s army, defeats Rupchand, he meets and falls in love with Chanda. Their affair is discovered, and they must elope. Upon leaving the city, they are intercepted by Chandra’s husband, Bavan, an impotent coward. Bavan attacks Laurak, but, as Chandra anticipates, his arrows fail to reach their mark.
Last Updated: 9/5/2017


This object was included in the following exhibitions:

The Mughal and Deccani Schools: Indian Miniature Painting from the Collection of Edwin Binney, 3rd The Portland Art Association , 12/2/1973 - 3/7/1976

Epic Tales from India: Paintings from The San Diego Museum of Art The San Diego Museum of Art , 11/19/2016 - 6/12/2018


This object has the following bibliographic references:

Dr. Edwin Binney, 3rd. The Mughal and Deccani Schools Portland Art Museum. Portland, Oregon, 1973
Page Number: 17, 20, 21, Figure Number: 6a

Ms. Marika Sardar and Ms Neeraja Poddar. Epic Tales from Ancient India San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego, California, 2016
Page Number: 134, 135, Figure Number: cat. 76

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