Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
Gilt binding with medallians, wrapped in Lucknow silk cloth
The Padshahnama (or Chronicle of the King of the World) is the unique official description of part of the reign of the Mughal Emperor, Shah-Jahan (r. 1628-58). Its forty-four illustrations include some of the finest Mughal paintings ever produced. They were executed by fourteen of Shah-Jahan's court painters between 1630 and 1657 and include identifiable portrait likenesses of all the key figures at the imperial court.
The story of its arrival in the British Royal Collection is recorded in a letter accompanying the manuscript:
'When Lord Teignmouth was at Luknow, a Book was produced to him out of the Nabob's Library, as a most splendid of oriental manuscripts and its acceptance was pushed upon him. Lord Teignmouth declined receiving it with an observation that it was fit for a royal Library. The observation however suggested the idea, that as a literary curiosity it might be acceptable to the King of Great Britain, and he mentioned it afterwards to the minister at Luknow, that he would not hesitate to accept it, in the idea of depositing it in the royal Library if his Majesty would think proper to allow it. The Book, with five others suggested by the Minister, as elegant specimens of Persian writing, were sent to Calcutta, after Lord Teignmouth's departure, and forwarded by his Attorneys to Europe. They have been lately received by Lord Teignmouth, and are now in his possession; he will be happy to be honored with his Majesty's orders respecting them.'
Among Lord Teignmouth's descriptions of the five manuscripts there is also this note: 'This is the most splendid Persian manuscript I ever saw. Many of the faces are very well painted and some of them are portraits. The first is the portrait of Timur or Tamerlane, and the second that of Shahjehan. This was the book which was shown to me at Luknow, and I was there informed that the deceased Nabob Asophuddoulah purchased it for 12,000 rupees, or about £1550.'
Catalogue entry adapted from 'Islamic Manuscripts in the British Royal Collection', Leiden 1994
Kashmiri Painter (illustrator)
Payag (fl.1595-1655) (illustrator)
Bulaqi, son of Hoshang (illustrator)