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Ink and gold on paper, an illuminated panel mounted on an album page.
This page of gold illumination is exquisitely executed, and the use of gold on the black ground with no other colours produces a mesmerising effect. The central panel contains birds perched amidst leaves and flowers; the surrounding areas contain animals, qilins and birds amongst trees and rocks.
34.5 by 21.5 cm.
Scribes, poets and illuminators emigrated to the Muslim courts of the Deccan during the second half of the 16th century, and it is possible that this work was executed in this context. In comparison to Persian prototypes, this page has an intensity and freedom that is more in line with Deccani style, and the illumination in manuscripts and miniatures produced at Deccani courts in the late 16th century provide local comparisons; see, for instance, the robes, hats and saddle blankets in portraits of Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II of Bijapur and the borders and the backgrounds of miniatures and manuscripts from late 16th and early 17th century Golconda (see Welch 1985, no.193, p.290; Zebrowski 1983, pls.VI, IX, XVIII, figs. 49, 50, 120, 123, 124, 126, 128, 129, 135, 144).
An interesting and striking comparison can be seen in the gold-painted scenes on a lacquered wooden box from Ahmadnagar around 1565 (see Michell and Zebrowski 1999, p.148, fig.109).
In the present case the artist has employed a technique of painting in gold that makes the overall design appear almost like filigree work, and one wonders whether the design was originally made as a doublure for a binding.