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Under the Simurgh’s Banner: The Mysterious Presence of the Mythical Bird in The Delivery of Presents for Prince Dara-Shikoh’s Wedding

with Andrea Gallelli Huezo


Thursday, March 30, 2017
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
The Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E Street, NW, Chung-wen Shih Conference Room, Suite 503
Washington, DC 20052






The Simurgh is a mythical bird that appears in epic poems of Persian literature such as Firdausi’s Shahnama and Farid al-Din Attar’s The Speech of the Birds. Aware of the power of iconography as a means of self-representation, Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (r.1628-1658), embraced the image of the Simurgh to convey his imperial persona. In an illustration from his official chronicle, the Padshahnama, the Simurgh is rendered on an imperial banner as part of the royal procession for the delivery of gifts (sachaq) for Prince Dara Shikoh’s wedding. Although Shah Jahan used the Simurgh before, the inclusion of the bird on a Mughal standard is unique. The lecture discusses how Shah Jahan’s strategic inclusion of the Simurgh banner in the Padshahnama manuscript illustrates his intent to establish his son Dara Shikoh as the rightful heir of the Mughal Empire.

Andrea Gallelli Huezo is an M.A. Candidate in Art History focusing on spectacle, processions, and theater in 16th and 17th centuries Islamic and Spanish Art. Her primary field of research is Islamic illustrations, with special interest in the Padshahnama manuscript, the official history of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in Architecture, Urbanism and Design from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), Argentina, as well as a B.A. in Art History from George Washington University.



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