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Home >> Illustrated Manuscripts >> Medieval Manuscripts

Medieval Manuscripts

India has been most accommodating to ethnic groups as diverse as the Aryans from Central Asia, Arabs, Turks, Afghans, Persians and the Medieval Manuscripts of India bear testimony to that very fact. Each of these people represented a distinct civilizational ethos. After the initial act of conquest they all settled in the country as "rulers." Yet, each was different in the varying notions of power that they sought to introduce

The Mughals were the most influential and the most resourceful of all the conquerors; moreover the Mughal Emperors were great patrons of literature, calligraphists, painters, poets, singers and craftsmen. A variety of Persian writing bureaucracy - both Hindu and Muslim - found patronage in their court. Nothing was spared to encourage these artists to give their best. The results were soon evident. The Mughal Empire was famous for its beautifully calligraphed and often-illustrated manuscripts. The Baburnama and the Akbarnama were the best results of such patronization.


The Baburnama, an illustrated biography of India's first Mughal emperor, Zahiruddin Mohammad Babur (1483 -1530), can be called a marvel of the medieval world. It is unique and a novel endeavor, which does not have any precedent. Famous historian Thackston, claims that it is "the first real autobiography in Islamic literature. The West has a tradition of Military memoir dates back to Xenophon and Julius Caesar, but the Mughal King had no such precedents, therefore this endeavor is remarkable indeed.

The book however, extends far beyond the military and political history that the roman biographies narrated. Babur had the foresight to include descriptions of many of the places he visited and his interest in flora and fauna and techniques of hunting, fishing, and agriculture. These descriptions were accompanied with intricate illustrations in the Persian Miniatur style.


Akbarnama is an illustrated manuscript, which narrates, the history of Akbar. This book is an important account of the great Mughal emperor and gives us valuable information about his life and more importantly, his times.

The book was commissioned by Akbar himself and written by Abul Fazl the favorite of akabrs nine jewels. It is believed that the book took seven years to be completed and illustrated manuscripts contained a number of paintings supporting the texts, and all the paintings represented the Mughal school of painting and miniature style of painting.

European Medieval Manuscripts

In the medieval Period exciting developments were happening in many areas of western European culture. New ideas reinvigorated the practice of architecture, music, poetry, and theology. The great European universities were beginning to take shape. Like the Renaissance of the 15th/16th centuries, the educated people of 12th century Western Europe sought to restore a connection with the culture of the classical period. A great many manuscripts too were written in this period, most of them however were medical ones.

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