Shoeing the horse


Shoeing the horse



A handsome blue roan with a rich saddlecloth is attended by the groom, his assistant, and a man fixing the horseshoe. Though standing quietly while being shoed, its eyes are wide open with fear. The well-proportioned body indicates an excellent breed. The groom holds the horse’s foot by a black rope to facilitate the fixing of the shoe. An open bag full of horseshoes and nails is lying in front. All the men are dressed in fine transparent muslin garments.

This lightly coloured drawing, in the style known as nim kalam, is in all probability a portrait of a favourite horse commissioned by Ibrahim Adil Shah II (1580–1627). The drawing is by a well-known artist Ali Jafar, whose signature appears on the cloth around the neck of the horse.

The emphasis is on the fine quality of drawing on natural shade paper, and the monotony is relieved by a richly brocaded saddle cloth lined with a bright orange coloured textile as well as a number of ornaments on the horse. In the words of Khandalavala, ...frequently during the later Safavid period and early Shah Abbas period of Persian painting great importance was given to the quality of drawing for its own sake, without undue emphasis on colour which was used only to relieve any sense of monotony. There is no doubt that this fashion of producing lightly coloured drawings influenced Deccani artists.

In this painting, we have a fine example of this style of work. However, the close affinity of this painting with the Mughal style cannot be ignored, particularly in the depiction of the man hammering the nail to fix the shoe.

Though Ibrahim Adil Shah II was a known patron of painting, and a number of exquisite paintings were produced during his reign, only two of them bear authentic signatures, and both are by Ali Jafar. A painting of a maiden leading a gazelle, reproduced by Zebrowski, bears an identical signature within a cartouche. Another horse study in the same style preserved in the Seth Kasturbhai Lal bhai Collection is probably by the same artist.
Inscription on the horse:

Kar-e- Ali Jafar
Work of Ali Jafar

Karl and Meherbai Khandalavala Collection
Artist: Ali Jafar


Indian Miniature Paintings

Object Type

Miniature Painting








circa. 1610


Bijapur, Hyderabad


27.1 x 35.7 cm