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Day 61 – Q 2. The art of storytelling through painting reached its pinnacle during Mughal Period. Substantiate with the help of examples.

Q.2) The art of storytelling through painting reached its pinnacle during Mughal Period. Substantiate with the help of examples.


India has a rich history in terms of Art and culture. Many ruling dynasties came here, established their rule and not only embraced local culture but also enriched it through their own contributions. One of such rich heritage is of storytelling through paintings.


Story telling through paintings in India:

  • Story telling through paintings has been an established art form in India. We find many examples of Ramayana and Mahabharata depicted in the form of continuous paintings, for example in Pattachitra of Odisha.
  • Similarly, Jataka stories of Buddha are also found in paintings of Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra.
  • Though this art form already existed in India, but Mughals with their rich colors and more realistic paintings took this art to its pinnacle.

Storytelling through paintings in Mughal era:

Mughal painting marks a unique a blending of Persian and Indian ideas. Mughal painting was essentially a court art, developed under the patronage of the ruling Mughal emperors and began to decline when the rulers lost interest. The subjects treated were generally secular, revolving around themes like  battles, court scenes, receptions, legendary stories, hunting scenes, wildlife, portraits, and the likes.

Imperial Mughal painting represents one of the most celebrated art forms of India. It arose with  remarkable rapidity in the mid-sixteenth century as a blending of three distinct traditions:

  1. Court painting of Safavid Iran,  
  2. Indigenous Indian devotional manuscript illumination, and;
  3. Indo-Persian or Sultanate painting, which is it is a hybrid of provincial Persian and local Indian styles.

The result of this merging resulted in paintings of  unprecedented vitality, brilliant coloration, and impossibly  precise detail, is something dramatically more than the sum of its parts.

The credit  for the development  of Mughal painting goes  to Akbar and Jahangir. The former possessed a library of 24000 Manuscripts, many of which were illustrated through paintings.

In the  year 1567  Akbar ordered  the preparation  of a lavishly illustrated  manuscript of the Persian translation  of the “Hamzanama”, the celebrated Arab  epic about a legendary Hamza. Sayyid Ali  and Abdus Samad were appointed to lead a group  of roughly and hundred painters. The projects took 15 years to complete, and most of the Indian pointers who founded the Mughal School were trained during that period. One of the leading painters at Akbar’s court was a potter’s son Daswanth.

Similarly, “Tutinama” was also an illustrated version of Persian tales in the form of 250 miniature paintings commissioned by Akbar.

Is it pinnacle of Art of storytelling through paintings?

  • Mughal Court  paintings provide  an insight into the life  and times of rulers of the period. These paintings also reflect the contemporary social and political condition of the people. Social customs and courtly traditions are vividly depicted in these paintings.
  • Mughal painting forms a dramatic episode in the history of India. It’s aims and standpoint are secular and realistic: it is interested in passing  events and most typically in the exact delineation of individual character in the portraiture of men and animals.
  • It is dramatic rather than static, aristocratic more than   surreal and academic rather than vocational.
  • After Mughal, there came “company paintings” in India. But they were not as realistic and detailed as Mughal miniature paintings.


Thus it can  be concluded that Mughal paintings are great  story tellers and are very informative, providing  us with deep insights into not only the life and times of the Mughals but also in rich Indian heritage and culture.

Best Answer: P29

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