The hour-glass a symbol of time, the Sufi saint a symbol of spirituality and an emperor who prefers the company of a saint to the Ottoman Sultan and King James I of England is the subject of this exquisite painting, part of an imperial album.
In the ninth year of his reign which is roughly the time of this painting Jahangir fell sick and took a vow that he ‘would make holes in his ears to declare that he owed his very existence to Khawaja Muinu-ddin and so he was Khawaja’s ear-bored slave.’
After recovery he did accordingly and wore a pearl in each of his ears.
Is the Sheikh Hussain in the painting identified by Stuart Welch, Sheikh Hasan?
“Shaykh Hasan or Hassu whose father and grand father were surgeions of Akbar’s times was a surgeon and a childhood friend of Jahangir.
After all Sufi saints were highly educated and could have another vocation. It seems farfetched but worth researching.
Is the illness and recovery reflected here?
Is this book an allegorical representation of the emperor’s naama e amal ( register of deeds)?
The cherubs under the time glass throne, where sand is mostly at the bottom are praying that the Emperor gets to live for a thousand years (inscribed in Persian).
It is during the same time that Jahangir nama is also being written.
So is it the temporal deeds in the Jahangir nama and good and bad deeds which will be judged on day of judgment in the daftar e amal?
Are the two angels hovering above the Kiramin kitabin? In Islam, the two kiraman katibin (Arabic: كراماً كاتبين “honourable scribes”), are two angels called Raqib and Atid, believed by Muslims, who record a person’s good and bad deeds. These two katibin (“scribes”) sit on a person’s right and left shoulders respectively. Whether one is sent to the Jannah (heaven) or Jahannam (hell) is not, however, dependent on whether one’s good deeds outweigh one’s bad deeds; it is ultimately up to Allah’s mercy upon a believer.
Are the two at the bottom munkar nakir who will question every person on their deeds in the grave?
The cartouche translated by Thackston Wheeler “Though outwardly shahs stand before him, he fixes his gazes on dervishes,” once again emphasise the effect that the Emperor feels time is running out and he needs to turn to spiritual rather than temporal matters.
The focus in this painting has been on the Sufi Sheikh, hands and the two royal figures. For me it’s the hourglass throne that is the most interesting with everything that it signifies.
I looked up the years when he was sick and found it corresponded.
There are many unanswered questions and I hope we get them one day.
Excellent analysis of the painting -qualities,technique and influences- has been done on the website of Khan Academy by Roshna Kapadia, so I limit myself to reading the spiritual overtones here.
Bichitr (also in the painting -bottom) was famous for painting formal figures and the treatment of the hands is outstanding.
Further reading : https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11618835/