Portraits of women are relatively rare in Mughal court painting. Women of the court were confined to their private quarters—the harem—and rarely seen in public. This image portrays a group of women of Jahangir’s court celebrating the Hindu festival of Holi. As part of the traditional festivities, the women sprinkle red powder over each other with a spraying device, a kind of syringe to draw colored water from a pot. Notice Jahangir in the background, too drunk or tired to stand. This image reveals a rare glimpse of carefree abandonment within the confines of the palace.


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