In this royal family portrait, Emperor Shah Jahan (r. 1628–58), sitting in haloed profile upon a gold-footed throne under a high white canopy, accepts a jewelled gift from his father-in-law, Asaf Khan. At his right are his three eldest sons—Dara Shikoh (1615–59), Shah Shija (1616–59), and the ill-fated Awrangzeb (r. 1618–1707), whose death effectively marked the end of the great Mughal Empire. All figures are resplendent in turbans decorated with jewels, pearl necklaces, different types of daggers (khilanum, katar, and kard), lavishly embroidered sashes, and gilded swords. An illuminated carpet lies underfoot.
The portrait is a masterful act of recycling: its inscription reveals that it was originally a group portrait featuring Shah Jahan’s father, Jahangir, and his sons. It was usual practice in Mughal India to refurbish earlier works for the purpose of imperial propaganda.
— Filiz Çakır Phillip
Canby, Sheila. Princes, Poets & Paladins: Islamic and Indian Paintings from the Collection of Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan. London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1998. ISBN: 9780714114835
Welch, Anthony, and Stuart Cary Welch. Arts of the Islamic Book: The Collection of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982. ISBN: 9780801498824