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A parrot talking to a woman; a folio from the Tutinama

circa 1580


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  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    North India India
    circa 1580
    Media category
    Mixed media painting
    Materials used
    opaque watercolour on paper
    45.8 x 31.8 cm frame
    Gift of Dr Jim Masselos 2022
    Not on display
    Accession number
    Artist information
    Imperial Mughal from the workshop of Emperor Akbar

    Works in the collection


  • About

    The Tutinama (Tales of the Parrot) is a collection of 52 moralising stories compiled by the Persian physician and Sufi, Ziya ‘Ud-din Nakshahbi, around 1329-30 CE while he was living in India. Based on an earlier Persian translation of a Sanskrit text known Sukasapati ( 70 tales of a parrot) they are about the merchant Mainum who leaves his dedicated pet myna bird and parrot at home to provide company for his wife Khajasta while he is away on business. In her husband’s absence, Khajasta becomes lonely and seeks a lover but both birds protest and advise her against this. Angered, the wife kills the Myna bird and the parrot intent on saving its own life and preserving its master’s honour makes-up a series of engaging stories to keep Khajasta busy over the next 52 nights. The Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1156- 1605) enjoyed these stories so much he commissioned two illustrated manuscripts for his library. One manuscript survives almost entirely intact as part of the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art, United States. The other manuscript from which this folio originates is known as the Chester Beatty Library (Dublin) manuscript, where a large proportion, including 143 folios and 102 miniature paintings remain together. Although originally commissioned by Emperor Akbar and compiled into a single album, many of the folios illustrating the different fables show the work of different artists and calligraphers.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication