The World of Animals

Lightly colored drawings, known as siyah-qalam (black pen) or nim-qalam (half pen), were introduced to the Mughal court from Persia. In this work, Miskin brilliantly combined the rhythmic abstraction of Persian painting with shading techniques for rendering depth and volume. A spiraling energy—coursing upwards through the flame-eyed alligator, bustards’ beaks, and gnarled tree trunks—unites his vertical landscape. Miskin’s subtle modeling and acute knowledge of the anatomy of animals make even the mythic dragons and simurgh bird seem natural.

The World of Animals
Inscribed to Miskin (act. late 1570s–ca. 1604)
India, Mughal dynasty, ca. 1590
Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper
Freer Gallery of Art F1945.29