In this scene, a group of elegantly attired men gather on an outdoor patio to engage in music, conversation, food and drink. Is the artist depicting a real event or an idyllic scene? Clearly, we are in the midst of some kind of royal party or entertainment. Scholars have debated the identity of the main figure in green, possibly one of Shah Jahan’s sons. This figure’s gaze and gesture indicates interaction with the group of holy men assembled on the left, thus leaving the viewer wondering if a discussion with the Prince is taking place.

Notice a figure towards the bottom of the painting pouring drinks from a tall necked bottle. The prince holds a small white cup, possibly white jade or porcelain. Several figures on the lower right are in the act of singing. On the middle left, one figure reads verse in a book. In the background, an attendant prepares a bed under a canopy in the midst of a lush garden, possibly a place to rest after the party or to escape the heat. Islamic art traditions often equated gardens with visions of paradise. At the lower left, the artist (Bichitr) adds an amusing touch. An armed attendant stares out at the viewer, perhaps to guard the enclosure, or to welcome our gaze?


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