Harvard University Press
The first five volumes of the Murty Classical Library of India
US (2015)

The volumes are:

Therigatha: Poems of the First Buddhist Women
Translated from Pali by Charles Hallisey
India (600s BCE)

Sur’s Ocean: Poems from the Early Tradition

Edited by Kenneth E. Bryant, translated from old Hindi by John Stratton Hawley
India (1400s)

Allasani Peddana
The Story of Manu
Translated from Telugu by Velcheru Narayana Rao and David Shulman
India (1500s)

The History of Akbar, Volume 1

Edited and translated by Wheeler M. Thackston
India (1590-1596)

Bullhe Shah
Sufi Lyrics
Edited and translated from Punjabi by Christopher Shackle
India (1700s)

Jennifer Schuessler reports for the New York Times:

When the Loeb Classical Library was founded in 1911, it was hailed as a much-needed effort to make the glories of the Greek and Roman classics available to general readers.

Virginia Woolf praised the series, which featured reader-friendly English translations and the original text on facing pages, as “a gift of freedom.” Over time, the pocket-size books, now totaling 522 volumes and counting, became both scholarly mainstays and design-geek fetish objects, their elegant green (Greek) and red (Latin) covers spotted everywhere from the pages of Martha Stewart Living to Mr. Burns’s study on “The Simpsons.”

Now, Harvard University Press, the publisher of the Loebs, wants to do the same for the far more vast and dizzyingly diverse classical literature of India, in what some are calling one of the most complex scholarly publishing projects ever undertaken.

The Murty Classical Library of India, whose first five dual-language volumes will be released next week, will include not only Sanskrit texts but also works in Bangla, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Persian, Prakrit, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and other languages. Projected to reach some 500 books over the next century, the series is to encompass poetry and prose, history and philosophy, Buddhist and Muslim texts as well as Hindu ones, and familiar works alongside those that have been all but unavailable to nonspecialists.

The Murty will offer “something the world had never seen before, and something that India had never seen before: a series of reliable, accessible, accurate and beautiful books that really open up India’s precolonial past,” said Sheldon Pollock, a professor of South Asian studies at Columbia University and the library’s general editor.

That literary heritage can seem daunting in size. While the canon of surviving Greek and Roman classics is fairly small, the literature of India’s multiple classical languages includes thousands upon thousands of texts, many of which, as the writer William Dalrymple recently noted, exist only in manuscripts that are decaying before they can be translated or even cataloged.

The Murty Library, Mr. Pollock said, aims to take in the broadest swath of them. “We are a big tent,” he said. “As long as it’s good and interesting and important, it’s going to be in the Murty Classical Library.”

The editions, which come wrapped in elegant rose-colored covers, are intended, like the Loebs, “to be around for 100 years,” Mr. Pollock said. But to some scholars, the project also comes as a timely if implicit rebuke to the Hindu nationalists of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, with its promotion of a unitary Indian identity based on selected Sanskrit religious classics.


My favorite Mughal Emperor is Akbar, and these 2 folios taken from a dispersed Akbarnama reflect the patronage of his illustrious court. The folio sheets are now part of the V & A Collection.

Emperor Akbar’s Adventure with the Elephant Hawa'i, 1561 from the Akbarnama 

The illustration shows Akbar, mounted on Hawa’i, pursuing Ran Bagha across a bridge of boats over the River Jumna, which collapses under the weight of the elephants. A number of Akbar’s servants have jumped into the water to escape.

Emperor Akbar Receives Trophies of War from Asaf Khan, 1590-1595

Originally part of the Akbarnama (Book of Akbar) When Akbar was encamped at Jaunpur during a campaign, he was joined by his leading general Asaf Khan and other officers, who presented the emperor with rare gifts taken from the region during their campaign, and with horses and elephants from Iran and Turkey.

The Akbarnama was commissioned by the emperor Akbar as the official chronicle of his reign. It was written by his court historian and biographer Abu’l Fazl between 1590 and 1596 and is thought to have been illustrated between about 1592 and 1594 by at least 49 different artists from Akbar’s studio.

After Akbar’s demise in 1605, he manuscript remained in the library of his son, Jahangir (r. 1605-1627) and later Shah Jahan (r. 1628-1658). Today, the represented composition of Akbarnma, with 116 miniature paintings, is in the permanent collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum. It was purchased by the South Kensington Museum (now the V&a) in 1896 from Mrs Frances Clarke, procured by her spouse upon his retirement from serving as Commissioner of Oudh (1858-1862).

Wikipedia Link 

A resource site on Akbarnama, by Columbia University

16th Century Mughal Miniatures

Repository U.K., London, Victoria and Albert Museum (IS.2:102-1896)
Collection American Council for Southern Asian Art (ACSAA) Collection (University of Michigan)
Source Data from: The American Council for Southern Asian Art (ACSAA)


Rights Photo: © Asian Art Archives, University of Michigan

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The Akbarnama The Akbarnama was commissioned by the emperor Akbar as the official chronicle of his reign. It was written by his court historian and biographer Abu'l Fazl between 1590 and 1596 and is thought to have been illustrated between about 1592 and 1594 by at least 49 different artists from Akbar’s studio.
Life Decisions from Finals Studying

So, I’m sitting in the library reading, studying for my Arts of Asia final in a few days.

Reading up on some Mughal paintings - going between notes, my textbook, some supplemental texts provided by my Professor, and the all-and-mighty Wikipedia for some clarification. 

It’s been decided…
When I am next in London (or can I say finally? I only spent about 5 hours there that one day…) I must go to the Victoria and Albert Museum and see this:

The Akbarnama.

From this horrid class (I’m sorry, I just can’t stand it…albeit it’s not THAT bad…) I’ve only really enjoyed the Indian derived works and paintings from Japan.

Yes - I’m an awful, picky, horrible art history major.

30 January 2015 Akbar’s horoscopes: how to become a Leo if you are not Akbar’s…

30 January 2015

Akbar’s horoscopes: how to become a Leo if you are not

Akbar’s horoscopes: how to become a Leo if you are not

The birth of Timur showing astrologers on the right, drawing up his horoscope. From an imperial copy of Abu l-Fażl’s Akbarnāma, c. 1602. Painting ascribed to Sūrdās Gujarātī (Or.12988, f. 34v)

Editor: On 31 October 2014 we held a successful one-day symposium ʻBritish…

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Swimming post #45

Akbar Nama, ca. 1590 AD (now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, England)

In the Mughal book of the Akbar Nama, a richly illustrated biography of the achievements of the ruler Akbar from about 1590 AD, one miniature painting shows Akbar riding a maddened elephant across a pontoon bridge. While the point of the painting is Akbar’s courage and skill in getting the elephant under control, in the background we can see a man swimming in the water. He’s got a cloth wrapped around his hips, and he seems to be doing the breaststroke – at any rate he is certainly not doing the crawl stroke. Both arms are awkwardly extended out in front of his body.