Folio from Akhlaq-I Nasiri

Folio From The Akhlaq-I Nasiri Of Nasir Al-Din Tusi: School Courtyard With Boys Reading And Writing. Lahore, Mughal period, circa 1595 CE. Ink, opaque watercolour and gold on paper; Dimensions 23.9 x 14.1 cm. Aga Khan Museum | Click image for larger view.

This painting comes from one of the favourite manuscripts of Akbar (r. 1556-1605 CE), the Akhlaq-i Nasiri (Ethics of Nasir), a philosophical treatise on ethics, social justice and politics by the thirteenth-century mediaeval Persian philosopher and scientist, Nasir al-Din Tusi (d. 1274 CE). This folio (149r) may demonstrate the importance of knowledge as a form of authority although the text does not lend itself easily to artistic interpretation. On a raised, carpeted platform the master works with a young student, while other boys read independently or with tutors in the school courtyard. According to Verma, Khem Karan was “among the leading painters of Akbar’s court”, where he was active between 1582 and 1604 (Som Prakash Verma, Mughal Painters and their work, Delhi, 1994, pp. 216-19). The painting is rich in detail for the documentation of Mughal educational practices. — Aga Khan Museum

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