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Hamza and Umar exchange insults with Ghazanfar and challenge him to battle outside the fortress of Armanus

Photo: Paul Macapia

Hamza and Umar exchange insults with Ghazanfar and challenge him to battle outside the fortress of Armanus

ca. 1570

This page comes from one of the world’s most monumental illustrated manuscripts, valued for its workmanship, page size, length, and patronage. Commissioned by the Mughal emperor Akbar while still in his teens, the Hamzanama took 15 years and an army of artists to complete. Each of its 1,400 oversized pages consisted of a complex illustration on cloth backed by text on paper. As the images were held up in turn and the tale was recited, the experience would have been akin to watching an animated film.

The Hamzanama recounts the real and imaginary adventures of Hamza, uncle of the prophet Muhammad, as he travels the world to spread Islam. In this image, he rides in from the lower right and exchanges insults with Ghazanfar, ruler of the wildly patterned fortress, to goad him into a fight. The episode concludes with Hamza stealing Ghazanfar’s armor, conquering the fortress, and converting its inhabitants.
Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on cloth with paper backing
34 15/16 x 28 3/4 in. (88.8 x 73cm)
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Richard E. Fuller
Photo: Paul Macapia
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistoryWashington, D.C., Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, The Adventures of Hamza, June 23, 2002 - Oct. 21, 2003.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Boundless: Stories of Asian Art, Feb. 8, 2020 - ongoing [on view Feb. 8, 2020 - July 11, 2021].
Published ReferencesHeermaneck, Alice, "Masterpieces of Indian Painting formerly in the Nasli M. Heermaneck Collections," Alice N. Heermaneck, Publisher, 1984, plate 140, p. 172; text p. 151.
(Cf. 46.28, 45.69, 57.78)

"Selected Works." Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 1991, p. 150

Beach, Milo Cleveland, "The New Cambridge History of India: Mughal and Rajput Painting," Cambridge University Press, 1992, Color Plate C, p. 64-65

Seyller, John. "The Adventures of Hamza", Washington, D.C.: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 2002, cat. no. 38, illus. p. 130

Foong, Ping, Xiaojin Wu, and Darielle Mason. "An Asian Art Museum Transformed." Orientations vol. 51, no. 3 (May/June 2020): pp. 56-57, reproduced fig. 17.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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