Having failed to take the great fortress of Chitor by direct assault, Akbar decided to use mines

Having failed to take the great fortress of Chitor by direct assault, Akbar decided to use mines

Painting from the Akbarnama
Composition by Miskina, colours and details painted by Bhurah
Opaque watercolour and gold on paper
Possibly Delhi, Agra or Fatehpur Sikri, India
1590-1595
Museum no. IS.2:67-1896

The Akbarnama was commissioned by the Emperor Akbar as an official chronicle of his reign. It was written by his court historian and biographer Abu'l Fazl around 1590, and illustrated during the same decade by at least forty-nine different artists from Akbar's studio. After Akbar's death, the manuscript remained in the library of his son, Jehangir. The Victoria and Albert Museum purchased it in 1896 from the widow of major General Clarke, an official who served as the Commissioner in Oudh province.

It is thought to be the first illustrated copy of the Akbarnama. It drew upon the expertise of some of the best royal painters of the time, many of whom receive special mention by Abu'l Fazl in the A'in-i-Akbari. The inscriptions in red ink on the bottom of the paintings refer to the artists and indicate that this was a royal copy.

The picture illustrates a scene that took place during the prolonged attack on the Rajasthani fortress of Chitor by the Mughal army. The covered lines of attack built by the Mughals allow the army, including armoured elephants (centre left) to approach the walls of the fortress (shown upper left). Akbar is shown top right, holding the gun called Sangram with which he has just shot a figure in a studded coat. The figure is Jaimal, the general of the enemy army, and the fortress submitted soon afterwards to the Mughal forces.