Page from the Late Shah Jahan Album: Harem Night-Bathing Scene

At least two scenes of women bathing under the moonlight were included in the Late Shah Jahan Album. In this painting eight women of the palace have removed their outer garments and jewelry down to their white petticoats to swim and dally in a luxurious marble pool. One male figure, who may be a eunuch guard or an imagined voyeur, looks on unnoticed, pointing to his mouth in a gesture of astonishment, perhaps at the beauty of the scene. He walks toward a small enclosure that matches descriptions of ceremonial ablution rooms set up in the women’s quarters. The fully dressed women in the top and bottom border examine strings of pearls and other jewelry pieces while the attendants on the side bring perfumes and containers probably with other jewels for inspection.

Opaque watercolor, gold, and ink on paper


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Cleveland Museum of Art

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