The Adventures of Hamza: Painting and Storytelling in Mughal India


A fantastic adventure story, based loosely on the exploits of Hamza, an uncle of the prophet Muhammad, who travelled throughout the world spreading the doctrines of Islam, The Adventure of Hamza–also known as Hamzanama–tells of encounters with giants, demons and dragons; of abductions and hair-raising chases; and of believers, as well as those who resisted the truth. The excitement of these ancient tales was best captured in public recitations at coffeehouses from Iran to northern India.

Author: John Seyller, Wheeler M. Thackston, Ebba Koch
Edited By: Antoinette Owen, Rainald Franz
ISBN: 9781898592228
Binding: Hardback, 320 Pages
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Each oration was given a particular flavor by the storyteller, who departed freely from the written text, which itself varies in composition and structure from manuscript to manuscript. An illustrated version of the Hamzanama was commissioned early in the reign of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, in the second half of the sixteenth century, by the teenage emperor himself. Consisting of 1400 paintings of an unusually large format, it was one of the earliest products of the royal Mughal painting atelier, and perhaps the most ambitious. The enormous size of the illustrations, which are nearly two feet high each, can be explained by their role in complementing the recitations; their sometimes broad and animated style conveys the vigor of the tales. Just over a tenth of the 1400 paintings from Akbar’s commission survive today, and this publication of The Adventures of Hamza brings together 60 of the greatest of these works from collections all over the world, and places them alongside new translations of the related text passages.

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Weight 2.89 kg
Dimensions 32.5 × 24.8 × 3.3 cm