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Zumurrud Shah Takes Refuge in the Mountains

Catalogue Description:
Folio from the oversized series known as the "Hamzanama" or "Qissa-i Amir Hamza." The campsite scene shows a giant under a tent in a rocky landscape surrounded by men and women who approach him on either side seemingly in despair. This painting, which is of better quality, represents the giant Zumurrud Shah, one of the principal antagonists of Hamza. The text on the reverse is not very helpful in interpreting the incidents. The giant has put his arms gently around a man who bows to caress the luxuriant tresses of the giant's beard. Another man, turbanless, touches the giant's knee with his head. In the Indian context, this is a gesture of utter humiliation. Facing the giant are two men lamenting, one of them wiping his eye, the other tearing at his hair while a peasant wearing a loin-cloth stands beside a bull, an expression of concern on his face. To the giant's left are several women in various states of dejection and grief. The elderly lady in the foreground tries to comfort a child who looks apprehensively at the giant. In the background, beyond the rocks, are caparisoned bulls with riders, one of whom is accompanied by a lady. A woman carrying a baby in a basket on her head leads the exodus. The artist here convincingly captures details such as the weight of the sagging canopy with its fluttering fringe as well as the expressions of grief. The sturdy bulls, alert and cheerful, remind us of the ease with which the Indian artist depicts animals. The women, all wearing traditional dress, are derived from contemporary non-Mughal Indian idioms, even down to small details such as the print on the blouse or the ivory wedge worn as an earring. (Quoted from J. Seyller, 1994)


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