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Cenotaph of Akbar, Sikandra

Cenotaph of Akbar, Sikandra

Artist: Latif (fl..1820s)

Medium: Watercolour

Date: 1820

Shelfmark: Add.Or.1804

Item number: 1804

Length: 54.9

Width: 71

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Watercolour by Latif (fl..1820s) of the Cenotaph of Akbar in the mausoleum at Sikandra in Uttar Pradesh, dated between 1820 and 1822. The image is inscribed on the front in English: 'Sarcophagus. Grave of the Emperor Akbar at Secundra'; and in Persian characters: 'Qabr i Akbar badshah dar raudah i Sikandrah 'amal i Latif' (Grave of the Emperor Akbar at the mausoleum at Sikandra. The work of Latif). Akbar (r.1556-1605) was an energetic and innovative ruler who succeeded in being a significant unifying force in India. His tomb, which blends Persian and Hindu elements, was completed by Akbar's son Jahangir in 1614, according to dated inscriptions. It is set in a vast square 'chahar bagh' or four-part garden plan, divided into quarters by red sandstone causeways containing water channels, interspersed with fountains and ponds. The mausoleum is constructed in five storeys. The ground-level storey comprises a set of arched recesses, with a tall arched recession or 'pishtaq' at the centre of each facade, topped by a marble kiosk. Above this are four further levels of trabeate pavilions. The burial chamber lies deep within the building, and on the fifth storey, open to the sky, is the cenotaph. Placed exactly above the grave further below, it is carved from a single block of marble and is inscribed with the ninety-nine names of Allah and intricate floral motifs.

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