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Akbar’s Kathāsaritsāgara: The Translator And Illustrations Of An Imperial Manuscript

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Chapter Summary

It was during his visit to Srinagar in 1589, shortly after the conquest of Kashmir by Mughal troops, that Akbar became acquainted with two important Kashmiri works, the collection of stories known as the Kathāsaritsāgara and the chronicle Rājataraṅgiṇī Perhaps owing to his wide range of interests, Akbar ordered the two texts to be translated into Persian. But it is also possible that he had certain political interests and that these two commissions should be regarded in connection with other translation projects from Sanskrit. The Kathāsaritsāgara, a collection of tales composed in the eleventh century by the Hindu poet Somadeva, was embellished with pictures. Unfortunately, this manuscript has been dismembered and most of the text and its illustrations are lost. Ms. I.O. 2410 gives a sense of the extent and range of the lost illustrations and of the contents of the extant pictures that had not been identified until now.

Keywords: Akbar; Kathāsaritsāgara; Persian; Sanskrit; Somadeva



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