Rāmāyan of Akbar | Monography or Translations of known period | Epic | Survey | Perso-Indica

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Monography or Translations of known period
Naqīb Ḫān, Rāmāyan of Akbar

[Preliminary Entry] The Rāmāyan of Akbar is a prose translation of all seven books of the Sanskrit Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki into Persian. It was sponsored by the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556-1605) in the 1580s.

The precise authorship of the work is unclear due to different attestations. In his Ā'īn-i Akbarī, Abū al-Fażl ibn Mubārak names as co-translators three men: Naqīb Ḫān (a court historian), Sultan Thānīsarī (a fiscal administrator) and Badā’ūnī (a secretary and prolific translator). However, in a flyleaf on his copy of the work, ‘Abd al-Raḥīm Ḫān-i Ḫānān names Naqīb Ḫān as the sole translator. In his clandestine and critical history of the period (Muntakhab al-Tavārīkh), Badāūnī claims exclusive responsibility for the translation and also states that he rendered the work into verse (this is most likely an misstatement on Badāūnīs part rather than evidence for a second translation).

The work has not been printed but survives today in numerous manuscripts, some of which are illuminated.

A. T.

i) Place of copying; ii) Period of copying; iii) Copyist; iv) Commissioner;
v) Information on colophon; vi) Description of miniatures/illustrations; vii) Other remarks; viii) Information on catalogue(s)
Manuscripts: 

Cambridge, University Library, Oo. 6. 54

, ii)

c. 17th-18th century

, viii)

Browne 1896, pp. 93-94

.

London, British Library, IO Islamic 1979

, ii)

24 Ramażān 1122/1710

, viii)

Ethe 1903, vol. 1, no. 1963

.

London, British Library, Or. 5087

, ii)

18th century

, viii)

Meredith-Owen’s Handlist, p. 36

.

London, British Library, Or. 1248

, ii)

Ḏū al-ḥijjah 1219/March 1805

, viii)

Rieu, vol. 1, pp. 55-56

.

Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Persans Supplement 17

, ii)

1062/1651

, viii)

Blochet, vol. 1, p. 184, no. 224

.

Illustrated manuscripts: 

Washington DC, Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, no. 07.271

, ii)

c. 1605

, iv) ‘Abd al-Raḥīm Ḫān-i Ḫānān, vi)

Discussed extensively in Seyller 1999

.

Doha, Qatar, Museum of Islamic Art

, ii)

1594

, vii)

This is the copy said to be owned by Hamida Banu Begum, Akbar's mother. Some miniatures have been removed from the manuscript and are held by museums in Europe and North America

.

Jaipur, Collection of the Maharaja of Jaipur

, i) Agra/Fatehpur Sikri, iv) Akbar, vi)

few of the illustrations have been published

, vii)

the manuscript has been inaccessible to scholars for decades

.


Bibliography:

Das, Asok Kumar, 1983, “Notes on the Emperor Akbar’s Manuscript of the Persian Ramayana,” In K. R. S. Iyengar, ed., Asian Variations in Ramayana: Papers Presented at the International Seminar on “Variations in Ramayana in Asia: Their Cultural, Social, and Anthropological Significance”, New Delhi, January 1981, New Delhi, Sahitya Akademi, pp. 144–153.

Das, Asok Kumar, 1986, “Introductory Note on the Emperor Akbar’s Ramayana and Its Miniatures,” In R. Skelton, ed., Facets of Indian Art: a Symposium Held at the Victoria and Albert Museum on 26, 27, 28 April and 1 May 1982, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, pp. 94–104.

Das, Asok Kumar, 1994, “Akbar’s Imperial Ramayana: A Mughal Persian Manuscript.” In V. Dehejia, ed., The Legend of Rama: Artistic Visions, Bombay. Marg, pp. 73–84.

Seyller, John, 1999, Workshop and Patron in Mughal India: The Freer Rāmāyaṇa and Other Illustrated Manuscripts of ‘Abd al-Raḥīm, Washington, D.C, Artibus Asiae Publishers.

Rieu, Charles, 1879-1883, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 3 vols, London, British Museum.

Browne, E. G., 1896, A catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the Library of the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, University Press.

Blochet, E., 1905-1934, Catalogue des Manuscrits Persans de la Bibliotheque Nationale, 4 Vols, Paris, Imprimerie nationale.

 
Illustrated work
Main Persian Title: Rāmāyan of Akbar
English Translation of Main Persian Title: Ramayana, Ramayan
Translator: Naqīb Ḫān
Original Sources:
Approximate period of composition: 1588-1590
Incipit:

بر ضمایر ارباب بصایر مخفی نماند که این کتابست در بیان اهل هند مشهور که انرا بزبان هندی راماین میخوانند و ان عبارتست از سرگذشت احوال رامچند

Commissioner: Akbar