CONTENTS:- Introduction; The Making of Razmnama; Imaging the Razmnama: The Razmnama Manuscript for Akbar and Other Copies; The Birla Razmnama; Catalogue of Illustrations; Glossary; Bibliography.
Razmnama or The Book of War is the Persian translation of the great Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. The Mughal Emperor Akbar took a personal interest in the translation project and invited learned men, well-versed with the work, from all over the country to help some of his best Persian scholar-courtiers prepare the most authentic text possible. Once this was complete, master painters at his atelier produced a lavishly illustrated copy for his personal use. Akbar then invited his nobles to get copies often text made for themselves. Out of the three copies made, the three-volume Razmnama in the Birla Academy of Art & Culture, Kolkata, is the only one complete with 81 miniatures. Most of these images are full-page ones and the text bears the name of the scribe and date of completion-1605. The paintings are of great interest to students of Mughal painting as they combine the finest elements of the Mughal court style with the narrative style of storytelling. Some of the most popular Mahabharata stories were chosen by the painters and instead of composing two or three separate paintings they incorporated different stages of narrative details within the frame of a single image. The overall style is refined and clearly follows the court style during the closing years of Akbar's reign. The 1605 Razmnama is a key document for the study of Mughal painting during the beginning of the 17th century.