This painting falls in the third section of Nasir al-Din Tusi’s text, focusing on politics. Taking the stance that “Man is by nature a civic being,” the author provides several anecdotes to demonstrate that man survives better in a structured society, with a firm ruler at the head of a hierarchy. Among these anecdotes, Tusi presents the example of a master craftsman who guides those working below him who may be “totally lacking in the capacity for invention”. The artist has chosen to illustrate this example by showing his own working conditions—he has painted a manuscript workshop much like the one he must have operated in at the Mughal court. The master craftsman is the figure seated on the right in a brown tunic and green shawl. He is instructing a younger painter, who holds a page from a manuscript on a board balanced on his knee, watercolours and inks arranged on the ground in front of him. Additional members of the workshop toil on other parts of the manuscript production process—the men seated in the center copy out text on fresh pages, while the man on the bottom right burnishes paper, preparing its surface to be written and painted on
See AKM288 for an introduction to a manuscript of the Ethics of Nasir (Akhlaq-i Nasiri) and links to the other paintings within this manuscript.
— Marika Sardar
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