Jahangir Embracing Shah Abbas

During a period of uneasy détente with Shah Abbas, the Safavid king of Iran, Jahangir dreamed the two rulers embraced—but in reality they never met. To proclaim the Mughal emperor’s superiority, the artist Abu’l Hasan cleverly manipulated symbols of sovereignty. The globe, which represents earthly rule and alludes to Jahangir’s name (World Seizer), becomes the stage for his disingenuous bear hug of the smaller, less opulently dressed shah. His lion mount even nudges the shah’s lamb back towards Iran.

Jahangir Embracing Shah Abbas
From the St. Petersburg Album Signed by Abu’l Hasan (act. 1600–30)
India, Mughal dynasty, ca. 1618
Margins by Muhammad Sadiq, Iran, dated AH 1170/1756–57 CE
Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper
Freer Gallery of Art F1945.9