Skip to main content

Mughals Impact On Paintings

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

The Mughal Darbar


The Mughal Empire was the product of struggle with Afghans of the two founders, Babur and his son and successor Humayun. The good fortune and abilities of founders and builders along with prolonged political struggle led to the rise of Mughal Empire. The end of reign of Babur and his son Humayun gave rise to Akbar and who during his long reign made no commitments to the capital neither emotional nor political. Later in honor of the success in the Deccan, Jahangir bestowed upon the prince Khurram the title Shah Jahan and with the death of Jahangir in 1627, Shah Jahan eliminated all the rivals for the thrown and was crowned emperor at Agra fort in early 1628. Although all the Mughal emperors from Babur and Aurangzeb to even later Mughals have an impact on Indian history but their reign is also an example of wonderful world of art and architecture.

The Hamzanama was one of the earliest important commissions by the third Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556–1605) and It tells the story of the adventures of Amir Ha


The early Mughal painting like Hamza-nama provides an excellent means to define innovations of Akbar. Moreover, paintings like Humayun with two Hajjis, Two Rosy Pastors and court scenes elaborate different dimensions of art in Mughal Empire and how they impacted art and architecture and specially paintings. Although paintings in reign of every Mughal emperor outshines the others but paintings in reign of Jahangir elaborates different image of him and symbolizes sense of divine truth, care, love and kindness. Jahangir is considered to have been a weak and incapable ruler but painting of his reign contradicts the statement and justifies his true and divine character.


Akbar, the third Emperor of the Mughal Empire consulted with a Sufi who assured him that he’ll be praised with the birth of a son as he had no heir at the age of 28. Finally a male child was born and was named Salim and eight days after his father’s death Salim ascended to the throne and decided to give himself the name Jahangir. So this paper will be focusing on the reign of Jahangir and how his reign impacted paintings and how these paintings elaborates him as an influential, caring and a divine person. Although Jahangir is one of the most important Mughal Emperors but he is still criticized to have been an incapable ruler and even some orientalists have compared him with Roman emperor Claudius for both being weak men. His considerable addiction to daily dosage of wine and opium made him withdraw to a private sphere of life. However, art work and paintings of his reign depicts a sense of kindness and even divine truth and how he gave more value to family and even foreigners and these pieces of paintings and art are evidence of him being a true person more than just an Emperor. Paintings like Jahangir preferring Sufi Shaikh over King James I of England, his beautiful portrait with Akbar in his memories, Jahangir entertaining Shah Abbas and weighing Prince Khurram against gold and silver are evident to the fact that though he was made withdrawal to private life due to addiction to opium but still there was a true and an influential leader within him and thus these paintings are evident to his sense of true and divine nature.

Jahangir weighing prince Khurram (later Shah Jahan) against gold and silver in the presence of Mahabat Khan and Khan Jahan


Jahangir’s painting of him preferring Sufi Shaikh over King James I of England symbolizes his divine truth. Likewise his father Akbar, Jahangir was also believer of religion which can be seen in this painting where he favors a holy man over kings. In this painting Jahangir faced four bearded men of varying ethnicity, one of which is Sufi Shaikh accepting the gifted book while Jahangir is making statement on his spiritual leanings. In the painting Sufi Shaikh has been given more importance than Ottoman sultan and King James I of England standing below the Shaikh respectively. The painting is the evidence as to how Jahangir was a spiritual believer and did not distinguish between rich and poor as a true and real person would do. Moreover, his beautiful portrait with his father Akbar in which he can be seen holding a framed image of his father is the evidence as to how he admired his family and father. Even the painting of Prince Khurram weighing against gold and silver and painting of his return from Mewar is also the evidence of realism and love and attraction towards his sons and specially Shah Jahan who was favourite of Jahangir among the other sons and even later succeeded him to become the emperor. Moreover, painting of Jahangir entertaining Shah Abbas is a clear image of power and good foreign relations and evidence that he respected every king and foreigners in his courts. Paintings like distant Himalayan range and the Arrival in Bethelem are true evidence of Netherlandish naturalism and nature in Mughal paintings and reflection of how a person encourages naturalism and nature with piece of arts. These evidences are true for contradicting the criticism about Jahangir and how paintings portrayed him as a caring, kind and divine person more than just being an Emperor.

Scroll to Continue

Mughal Art Treasure


The art and architecture and specially paintings have been history changing moment among Mughal Empire as it provides evidences to Indian history. It is because of these evidences we can portray images of history today and thus evidences are enough to lighten the impact of Mughals and specially Jahangir on paintings.


Asher, Catherine B. Architecture of Mughal India. Minnesota: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Beach, Milo Cleveland. Early Mughal Painting. Massachusetts and London: Harvard University Press, 1987.

Kapadia, Roshna. Khan academy.

Koch, Ebba. "Netherlandish Naturalism in Mughal Painting." 1925.

Richards, John. The Mughal Empire. North California: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Ashaya

Related Articles