Babur Crossing the river Saun: a Baburnama folio

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Babur Crossing the river Saun: a Baburnama folio
C. 1598 A.D.

Language: Persian Script: Nastaliq
Materials: Paper
Dimensions: L: 26 W: 17cm.
Acc. No. 50.336

An illustration to Baburnama - Mughal Emperor Babur's autobiographical notes, diary-records or memoirs, subsequently called Baburnama, the folio portrays Muhammad Zahir al-Din Babur, better known as Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty in India, crossing the river Saun, one of the most daring events in his four years' military campaign on Indian soil. A multifaceted personality, the most daring person dauntlessly facing every challenge, when moving eastwards Babur faced river Saun swelled with mighty flood and teaming with fearful crocodiles. He orders the river to be bridged using a number of boats and thus it was crossed. As other significant events it was recorded by him in his diary he wrote in his local dialect, a form of Chaghtai Turkish language.

Later during the period of Akbar the memoirs were not only translated into Persian but were also prepared its three illustrated copies. This manuscript with 145 illustrations is one of these copies. As reveals various records, these illustrations were painted by 48 artists during the period in between 1598 to 1599 AD. The event illustrated in the folio had taken place on 14th April 1529. It portrays Babur as sitting on the platform beneath a pavilion constructed on the largest boat and surrounded by many attendants. Another boat has been painted as transporting his horse. A most lively portrayal, a few soldiers are protecting a large fish while two soldiers are shooting a crocodile.

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