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Jahangir2EMPEROR JAHANGIR’S IMPERIAL routine is hardly a cakewalk: getting up at sunrise, giving darshan at his jharoka (balcony), receiving requests or complaints, returning to catch up on rest, going back to review the parade before presiding at the diwan-e-aam and then to the confidential closed door meetings with the mansabdars, the high officials. 

As public duties go, it is the diwan-e-aam that he enjoys the most. It is in this segment that ambassadors and merchants from other kingdoms vie for his attention with novel gifts. His advisers had informed him of the arrival of an English ambassador a while back. Jahangir however cannot say he is pleased with the quality of gifts offered so far by this delegate: items of velvet and leather that show every sign of the journey they have come through. The mastiffs however he greatly appreciates. In fact Jahangir feeds them himself with a pair of gold tongs.


Jahangir takes an interest in what visitors can present. Image: From a 17th C painting The Great Mughal Jahangir’s Darbar, David Collection Museum, Denmark

Jahangir appreciates the paintings brought in by the Ambassador. This is praise coming from a recognised connoisseur. For even while he was still Prince, Jahangir had set up his own studios in Allahabad where he did away with the factory style of painting production preferred by his father, instead he had single artists take control of every aspect of a painting. As Emperor, he has whittled down the team of Akbar’s artists, retaining only the best in this new approach.

In light of the current techniques of European art, Jahangir encourages his artists to experiment with multi-point perspective, to develop standing portraits and also to introduce allegorical elements, after a fashion, while keeping with tradition.