Bibi Farzana

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Bibi Farzana

India, Mughal Empire, circa 1640-1650
Drawings; watercolors
Opaque watercolor, gold, and ink on paper
Image: 9 5/16 x 5 1/2 in (23.6 x 14 cm); Sheet: 15 3/8 x 9 5/8 in. (39.05 x 24.45 cm)
Purchased with funds provided by Dorothy and Richard Sherwood (M.72.88.4)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

The inscription to the lower left of this elegant Mughal woman identifies her as Bibi [Lady] Farzana. Also known as Farzana Begum, she was a daughter of Asaf Khan (c....
The inscription to the lower left of this elegant Mughal woman identifies her as Bibi [Lady] Farzana. Also known as Farzana Begum, she was a daughter of Asaf Khan (c. 1569-1641), the Grand Vizier (Prime Minister) of Emperor Shah Jahan (r. 1628-1658). She was also the sister of Shah Jahan’s beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal (1593-1631), for whom the Taj Mahal was built as a memorial. She was married to Jafar Khan, the head of the Mughal Military Administration (Mir Bakhshi) and Joint-Prime Minister under Shah Jahan. Bibi Farzana stands in three-quarter view with her head facing left in full profile. She wears a transparent with gold trim dress and shawl, silk pants with purple floral sprigs, a brocaded waist sash with orange tulips, and red shoes with gold floral scrolls. Her copious jewelry includes a ruby and pearl forehead ornament, necklace pendant, and armlet; a pearl and emerald earring and necklace; multiple strands of pearls, and golden bracelets inset with emeralds and rubies. She has long braided hair and henna on her fingertips. In her left hand she grasps a daffodil sprig. Her right hand is extended with the palm turned up and open in a gesture that may signify generosity. She stands against a light green background with lush flowering plants in the foreground and a blossoming shrub beside her. Beneath the orange-and-red sky and directly above her head are two bees. The portrait has been remounted with marbled inner margins and plain outer borders.
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Bibliography

  • Pal, Pratapaditya. Indian Painting, vol.1. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1993.