Page from the Late Shah Jahan Album: Portrait of Asaf Khan

The Late Shah Jahan Album contained sensitively rendered portraits of the emperor’s high-ranking officers, ministers, and nobles of the court. Asaf Khan was a vizier and military officer who was related to the emperor by marriage. The figures in the borders serve as a commentary on the interests, status, and personality of the person featured in the central portrait. Here, Asaf Khan is portrayed as being both a scholar and a warrior who could appreciate beauty and books as much as swords and archery. In the border above are two mullas, learned Muslim clerics, with books in front of them; they are gesturing as though in discourse with interlocutors who would have been on the facing page. In the lower border are two soldiers conversing at ease while three retainers stand behind him.

Opaque watercolor, gold, and ink on paper


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Cleveland Museum of Art

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