Art Of The Empire

Uncover the real story of the Mugals at The British Library

Posted: 17.12.12

Turn to any issue of Asiana Wedding magazine and you’ll spot instant inspiration from the Mugals. The fashion, style and beauty of the Indian Mugals has long been a source of design and ideas – especially for modern brides and grooms, but how many of them actually know about life in the Mugal times? While we all appreciate the elaborate costumes, interiors and jewels depicted in historic Bollywood movies like Jodha Akbar, a new exhibition at the British Library celebrates the true story of the mugals from their beginnings to their demise.

Curated by Dr. Malini Roy, Curator of Visual Arts at the British Library, the exhibition invites visitors into the sumptuous world of the Mughals, which at its peak stretched from Kabul and over most of the South Asian subcontinent. It reveals the extravagant lives of the emperors, their strategic methods of managing their vast and culturally diverse empire and their active role as patrons of art, literature and sciences, as well as builders of legendary monuments such as the Taj Mahal. Behind the stunning visual imagery are dramatic stories of the empire, rife with poisonings, love affairs and a constant hunger for knowledge and power.

It’s the first exhibition that documents the entire historical period from the 16th to the 19th century, through more than 200 exquisite manuscripts and the finest paintings drawn almost exclusively from the British Library’s extensive heritage collection. You’ll have the opportunity to read letters, observe stunning paintings and see more than 200 stunning original objects from the era. 

It’s hard to choose a favourite aspect of the exhibition, you will certainly be wowed by all the paintings on display; but one you won’t want to miss is the outstanding illustrated manuscript of the epic tale of the Hamazamana which took 15 years to complete and consists of 1400 individual paintings. It’s also fascinating to see portraits of some of the most powerful men that ever lived, including a rare photograph of the last emperor on his death-bed.
You’ll certainly never look at the Mugals in the same way again.

Mugal India: Art, Culture and Empire is showing at The British Library until 2nd April 2013. 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB. Price: £9 / £7 and £5 concessions / Free for under 18's

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