The Studio . . . . . Stories [1995-98]


Waqi 'at-i-Baburi
The founder of the Mughal dynasty in India, Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur, a Muslim of the Sunni sect, was descended on his father's side from Timur [Tamerlane] and from Chinghiz Khan on his mother's. He was born in Ferghana [now in Soviet Turkestan] in 1483. When he was scarcely twelve years old, his father was accidentally killed by falling from a pigeon tower.

At fourteen his will to carve out a kingdeom was set. The dynamic and advenurous young prince forsook Ferghana and led his followers unsuccessfully against Samarkand. After a time of wandering, he won back Ferghana in 1498, and in 1500-1501 he captured Samarkand, which he soon lost to the Uzbeks. His first major success came in 1504, when he captured Kabul and Ghazna, from which he made frequent military forays in the years ahead.

Always eager, he led five expeditions through the vulnerable passes of the northwest into Hindustan [northwestern India] between 1519 and 1525, when he crossed the border for the last time, at the head of ten thousand men.

In 1526, his cavalry and artillery defeated the Muslim Sultan of Delhi and the Hindu Raja of Gwalior at Panipat, near Delhi. At Kanhua, a year later, he overwhelmed the combined armies of the remaining Rajput [Hindu] princes, thereby gaining a secure hold on Hindustan. Although Arab, Turkish, and Iranian Muslims had come to India, some to establish dynasties, since the seventh century A.D., Babur's became the greatest Muslim power in Indian history.

Always a warrior, his expansionist policies continued until his final illness in 1530, when he named as heir his son Humayun. Ironically, Babur disliked India and never adjusted to its climate and customs. His remains were buried at Kabul, where Shah Jahan built his a masuoleum in 1646.

Although no works of art can be associated with Babur as patron, his extraordinarily lively autobiography, [the Waqi 'at-i-Baburi, written in Chaghatai Turkish and translated into Persian as the Babur-Nameh] reveals his mentality so fully that from it we can imagine how they might have looked.

Like his descendants, Babur was deeply concerned with people and nature. His book abounds in vividly insightful descriptions of mankind as well as flora and fauna. Although he was happiest writing prose, his ideas are those of a poet and scientist, a seemingly paradoxical mixture that set the mood for future Mughal art. While the miniature paintings of his Persian forebears can be described as visual equivalents to rhymed verse, views of the world in arabesque, a new concern with naturalism was infused into the tradition by the Mughals, whose pictures are closer to prose." [From the Introduction, Welch, Stuart Cary. Imperial Mughal Painting. George Braziller, NY. 1978]

From 'Stories.' [Freehand Drawing - Computer Application / Prints: 10" x 12" ]

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Copyright, 2000