Renowned Iranian philosopher and scientist Nasir al-Din Tusi (d. 1274) wrote Akhlaq-i Nasiri (Ethics of Nasir) around 1235 for Nasir al-Din ‘Abd al-Rahim, the Ismaili ruler of Quhistan in northeastern Iran. Divided into three discourses concerning ethics, social rights and regulations, and political theory and practice, this text originally had no pictorial tradition. More than 300 years later, it became a favourite of Akbar the Great (r. 1556–1605), the Mughal emperor of India. Akbar may have commissioned the illustrated copy from which this painting derives. The 17 known paintings of the dispersed manuscript add commentary relevant to late 16th-century India.
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.
Ethics of Nasir describes the art of chivalry as a noble art that provides an income and requires strength, courage, superior equestrian abilities, military might, and the ability to protect and defend territory. Here (fol.138r), in the company of his ministers and other companions, a young Mughal prince astride a powerful horse attempts to catch a lance. In the lower part of the painting, a young man holds a tabarzin in his left hand while moving his right hand to his mouth. His index finger touches his lips, a sign of astonishment at this demonstration of equestrian skill.
The painting of the art of chivalry is signed by Gang Singh, whose name is found on other Mughal royal manuscripts from the mid 1580s until 1604. Gang Singh was highly influenced by Farrukh Chela.
— 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
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