Susan Stronge

By the Light of the Sun of Jahangir

Light is a dominant motif in the reign of the Mughal emperor Jahangir (r.1605–1627). Nur ad-Din, or Light of Religion, was part of his name. He called his wife Nur-e Jahan (Light of the World) and was often portrayed by his artists with a halo of golden light. ‘Nur’ was also included in the names he gave to new monuments and to categories of gold coinage: a beautiful setting in which pavilions were constructed for him outside the city of Ajmer was known as Cheshme-ye Nur, or Fountain of Light, and the largest gold coins produced in the imperial mints had names such as Nur-e shahi (Royal Light) and Nur-e sultani (Sultanian Light). This lecture considers the ways in which light was conveyed in visual terms in the arts of Jahangir’s court.

Susan Stronge is Senior Curator, Asian Department, Victoria and Albert Museum, London. She specialises in the arts of the Muslim courts of the Indian subcontinent from the 16th to the early 19th century, and has written about many different aspects of royal patronage. Her publications include Painting for the Mughal Emperor. The Art of the Book 1560–1650 (V&A Publications, 2002), Tipu’s Tigers (V&A Publishing, 2009) and Made for Mughal Emperors (Lustre Press, New Delhi/IB Tauris, London, 2010). In 2012 she was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship for her project Jahangir’s Travels and Moghul Court Arts, an investigation into the organization of the royal ateliers in relation to the frequent displacements of the court in early 17th century Hindustan.