Claiming their descent from Timur (Tamerlane) and the Mongol ruler Genghis Khan, the Mughals came from a small region of Ferghana Valley in Central Asia and invaded India in 1526. From then until 1877, the Mughal emperors ruled much of northern India and parts of Afghanistan and modern-day Pakistan. It was by defeating the Mughals that the British established their rule in India in 1877.

Although Mughals were Muslims, many of the emperors married Hindu princesses; even the famous Mughal emperor Shah Jahan-the builder of the Taj Mahal-was a product of such intermarriage. Thus, the Mughal court was a fascinating combination of Persian etiquette that the Mughals aspired to, the Central Asian conventions that they were used to, and Hindu traditions that were brought to the court by the new courtiers and wives.

Shah Jahan accepts a falcon from Dara Shikoh

Mughal, reign of Shah Jahan (16281658)
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, ca. 1630
11 13/32 in. x 7 25/32 in. (29 cm x 19.8 cm)

Edwin Binney 3rd Collection