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Mughal art [India]
Mughal art [India]

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India under attack

In the early 10 th century India would suffer the first of a long string of attacks from Afghani and Turkish tribes coming to conquer lands, bringing with them their Muslim religion and culture. At first sporadic, soon these conquering trips would become frequent events in Indian history, and by 1120 the first Muslim Sultan was firmly ensconced in his place of power in the city of Delhi. Sultan Kutub Al-Din would be the first in a long line of such foreign monarchs, establishing in India both Persian, Turkish and other Arab influences. In 1526 the first Mongolian King - Babor conquered the northern regions of India and the Mongol name would be changed and mispronounced 'Mughal' by the Arabic speaking principalities of India.

Mughal art as the melding pot of cultural influences

Mughal became the prevalent artistic style in India during the mid 16 th to late 18 th centuries. It is basically a conglomerate of influences from different parts of India , Pakistan , Persia , Iran and the local styles that were seen at the time. The Mughal emperors were the great benefactors of this style and both Indian and Persian artists were hired to create custom-made depictions of historical and classically-themed events.

The style reached its prime in the days of the Emperor Jahangir , who had a very short reign from 1605 to 1627, and his most famous artists were Mansur and Manohar. Jahangir preferred that his artists depict his own life story rather than remaking newer versions of history. He was also deeply interested in botany, wildlife and horticulture and encouraged his court painters to involve as much nature in the work as possible. In the tolerant, highly civilized atmosphere of Mughal rule, most of the artists remained faithful to Hindi traditions, though the detailed backgrounds, the rich tapestry of information to be seen in all of these works speaks clearly of the Arab influences.

Mughal art changed after its introduction to the West:

This style is known for very fine drawing techniques and it remains wholly oriental only until the 1580's, when Western influences began to seep in, causing it to stagnate and finally disintegrate with the fall of the regime in Delhi in the 18 th century. By then, the Mughal style lost much of its formal, idealized imagery and more realistic, naturalistic portrayal of figures and perspective became common. One common original feature is the repetitious nature of all the figurative works, their contour lines being definitely marked and they are habitually posed in ritualistic postures that each has specific significance. The background is left abstract, almost flat-surfaced. The colors were definitely not influenced by the West and remained vivid and contrasting, according to the traditional Indian style of painting. The application of color did change, and the traditional rough surfaces and delicate detailing became a polished, smoother application of color that lacks much of the original charm of the style.

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