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A prince in a garden

A prince in a garden

Leaf from a Mughal album c 1580

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, MS Ouseley Add 170, fol 1v

This leaf from an unattributed manuscript is illustrated in remarkable detail and the image set within wide, decorated margins.

A green-robed prince is depicted in a walled garden, standing on the marble rim of a pool of swirling water. He is surrounded by attendants and appears to be in conversation with one of them, who leans towards the royal figure.

The garden layout follows the Persian fashion of a cooling water channel flowing symmetrically through the cultivated space, a pool or fountain at its centre. Realistically drawn trees flourish within and without the walls of the octagonal garden, possibly reflecting the eight gardens of paradise described in mystic texts.