Dara Shikoh With Sages
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1968.47
People
Attributed to Payag, Indian ( active mid-17th century)
Title
Dara Shikoh with Sages
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Prince Dara Shikoh Conversing with Sages
Classification
Albums
Work Type
album folio
Date
c. 1635
Places
Creation Place: South Asia, India, Uttar Pradesh, Agra?
Period
Mughal period
Culture
Indian
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
actual: 36.7 x 25.1 cm (14 7/16 x 9 7/8 in.)
Aquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Eric Schroeder in honor of John Coolidge
Accession Year
1968
Object Number
1968.47
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions

Label Text: Re-View: S231 (Islamic rotation: 3) Sacred Spaces: The World of Dervishes, Fakirs and Sufis, written 2009
Dara Shikoh with Sages
Attributed to Payag
India, Mughal dynasty, c. 1635
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Eric Schroeder, in honor of John Coolidge, 1968.47

Prince Dara Shikoh (1615–1659), in the orange robe, and two of his courtiers listen attentively to a discussion between two holy men seated on a white sheet laid upon a carpet. Dara, the eldest son of Emperor Shah Jahan (r. 1628–58), was one of the most fascinating members of the Mughal dynasty: although he was the likely heir to the throne, he immersed himself in religious study with great intensity. The particular Sufi order these sages belong to has not yet been identified. Beginning with Emperor Akbar (r. 1556–1605), the Mughal family was affiliated with the Chishti Sufis. When Dara was twenty-one, however, his father brought him to Mian Mir, a Sufi of the Qadiri order renowned for his miraculous powers. Four years later Dara and his sister Princess Jahanara were initiated into the order by Mulla Shah Badakhshani, who became their spiritual preceptor.

Label Text: Divinely Inspired: Images of Mystics and Mendicants, written 1999
Attributed to Payag
Dara Shikoh with Sages
India (Agra?), Mughal period, c. 1635
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Gift of Eric Schroeder, in honor of John Coolidge
1 968.4 7

Prince Dara Shikoh ( 1 61 5-1659), portrayed here listening attentively to the discussions between holy men, was the eldest son of Emperor Shah Jahan and was one of the most fascinating member s of the Mughal dynasty. Dara initially followed the traditional Mughal affiliation with the Chishti Sufi order, an association that had begun with his great-grandfather, Emperor Akbar. After suffering from a prolonged illness, Dara was brought at the age of twenty-one to Mian Mir, a renowned Sufi of the Qadiri sect, by his father, who had heard of Mian Mir’s miraculous powers . Dara was impressed by the Qadiri teachings; four years later he and his sister Princess Jahanara were initiated into the order by Mulla Shah Badakhshani, who became their spiritual preceptor.
Several paintings were produced in the mid-seventeenth century in which Prince Dara can be seen reverently listening with his courtiers to the teachings of holy men . Occasionally these groupings include portraits of Dara's teachers Mian Mir and Mulla Shah; the sages here, however, have not yet been identified.

Publication History

Milo Cleveland Beach and Stuart Cary Welch, The Grand Mogul: Imperial Painting in India, 1600-1660, exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (Williamstown, MA, 1978), Page 166-167/Figure 63

Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), page 90/figure 97

James Cuno, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, Harvard University Art Museums/Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), page 146-147

Studies In Islamic and Later Indian Art From the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2002), page 32/figure 7

"Darshan: In the Company of the Saints", Speak The Truth, ed. David Mc Mullen, Darshan 86 (South Fallsburg, NY, May 1994), page 6

Exhibition History

Portraiture in Iran and India, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 12/09/1983 - 02/01/1984

Divinely Inspired: Images of Mystics and Mendicants, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/16/1999 - 03/29/1999

Re-View: S231 (Islamic rotation: 3) Sacred Spaces: The World of Dervishes, Fakirs and Sufis, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/06/2009 - 01/03/2010

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Verification Level

2 - Adequate. Object is adequately described but information may not be vetted