Mirʾāt al-quds (Mirror of Holiness): A Life of Christ for Emperor Akbar

A Commentary on Father Jerome Xavier’s Text and the Miniatures of Cleveland Museum of Art, Acc. No. 2005.145

Series:

Emperor Akbar’s exceptional interest in Christianity is reflected in many ways. Among these was his commissioning in 1602 of a Life of Christ from his guest, the Jesuit priest Jerome Xavier, thus marking a singular moment in the relations between one of the greatest Muslim rulers and Catholicism. This fascinating text—translated into English for the first time—draws mostly on Biblical and apocryphal sources, but also reveals that in order not to antagonize his Muslim hosts, Father Jerome occasionally made concessions in his work. Of the three illustrated copies, the one used in this study and now in the Cleveland Museum of Art is the most important. Its twenty-seven high-quality miniatures were inspired by the text itself, resulting in unique interpretations of episodes that often do not find parallels in a European context.

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Biographical Note

Pedro Moura Carvalho, Ph.D. (2003) in Art and Archaeology, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, is chief curator of the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore. He has published extensively on the European contribution to the arts of India, Iran, and China. Among his works are "Luxury for Export, Artistic Exchange between India and Portugal" (2008), and "Gems and Jewels of Mughal India" in the Khalili Collection (2010).

Wheeler M. Thackston is Professor of the Practice in Persian and Other Near Eastern Languages, retired, at Harvard University. Among his publications for the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture are A Century of Princes: Sources on Timurid History and Art (1989), and Album Prefaces and Other Documents on the History of Calligraphers and Painters (2001). He has also translated the memoirs of Mughal emperors, such as the Baburnama (1996) and the Jahangirnama (1999).

Table of contents

FOREWORD AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
INTRODUCTION: Father Jerome Xavier and the Third Jesuit Mission to the Mughal Court: Historical, Political and Religious Contexts

CHAPTER ONE: A LIFE OF FATHER JEROME XAVIER
1.1. Background and literary production
1.2. A bio-bibliographical survey
1.3. Early and contemporary Lives of Christ

CHAPTER TWO: THE MIRʾĀT AL-QUDS IN CONTEXT
2.1. A bibliographical survey of the Mirʾāt al-quds and its reception in European literature
2.2. Identifying the literary sources used by Father Jerome Xavier
2.3. An interpretation of the Abgar episode and some further considerations
2.4. The complexities of writing about Christ for a Muslim audience
2.5. Copying the Mirʾāt al-quds

CHAPTER THREE: VISUALIZING THE MIRʾĀT AL-QUDS: CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART, ACC. NO. 2005.145
3.1. The miniatures of the Cleveland Mirʾāt al-quds
3.2. The missing miniatures and their themes
3.3. Salim as the patron of the Cleveland Mirʾāt al-quds illustrated at Allahabad (1602–04)
3.4. A brief survey of the life of Christ in Islamic painting and literature

CHAPTER FOUR: CATALOGUE OF THE CLEVELAND MIRʾĀT AL-QUDS, ACC. NO. 2005.145
4.1. Cat. Nos. I–XXVII
4.2. A list of the miniatures, with corresponding pages in Father Jerome’s text (in the Cleveland copy of the Mirʾāt al-quds)

CHAPTER FIVE: A TRANSLATION OF THE MIRʾĀT AL-QUDS BY W. M. THACKSTON, WITH NOTES BY P. MOURA CARVALHO
5.1. Translator’s Preface
5.2. Preamble
5.3. Part One: Christ’s childhood
5.4. Part Two: His miracles and teachings
5.5. Part Three: His trials, tribulations, and death
5.6. Part Four: His Resurrection from the grave and Ascension into Heaven

CHAPTER SIX: AN ANNOTATED TRANSCRIPTION OF THE MIRʾĀT AL-QUDS BY W. M. THACKSTON
6.1. Preamble
6.1. Part One: Christ’s childhood
6.2. Part Two: His miracles and teachings
6.3. Part Three: His trials, tribulations, and death
6.4. Part Four: His Resurrection from the grave and Ascension into Heaven

APPENDIX I: Some Technical Aspects of the Cleveland Mirʾāt al-quds
APPENDIX II: Order of Folios in the Cleveland Mirʾāt al-quds, by W.M. Thackston
BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX

Readership

Those interested in the history of religions, and particularity in Catholicism versus Islam; East and West relations; Mughal painting, Emperor Akbar's interest painting and Christianity; the Jesuit missions in Asia; the Life of Christ and Christian iconography.

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