Bābur and Two Companions Racing During Their 1501-2 Flight from Samarqand
Leaf from the Read Mughal Album, but formerly fol. 121 of the British Library's Bāburnāma, probably by Sānvalah
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1911
This is the second of two miniatures in the Read Mughal Album that were formerly part of the British Library's Bāburnāma (Memoirs of Bābur). According to Bābur, when he looked back to see how far Qambar-˓Alī and Qasim Beg were behind him, his girth strap snapped, causing him to fall on his head. "Although I stood up immediately and got back on," he wrote, "my brain did not return to normal until that evening." This miniature is probably by the artist Parasa, to whom four others in the British Library's manuscript have been attributed.
The Read Mughal Album
Pierpont Morgan purchased the Read Mughal album, along with a Persian album, from Sir Charles Hercules Read, Keeper of British and Medieval Antiquities at the British Museum, in 1911. The Morgan purchase consisted of thirty folios (including both Indian miniatures and the Mughal portraits presented here), but Read owned at least forty-eight others, now widely dispersed. The leaves were probably once bound in several lacquered bindings. The identity of their compiler has not been established, but many borders date from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Mughal emperors of India commissioned biographies and were frequently portrayed by artists. Here the paintings are presented in the order of the emperor's reigns rather than the dates of the miniatures, starting with Bābur (r. 1526–30), the Muslim founder of the dynasty, and ending with Shāh Jahān (r. 1628–58), builder of the Taj Mahal.