Aolib.comFragment of Photochrom print of the front of Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany (ca. 1897)

Akbar, Emperor of India »


By Richard von Garbe

[Footnote 21: Noer, II, 355—]

[Footnote 22: J.T. Wheeler, IV, I, 169, following the old English geographer Samuel Purchas.]

Akbar was very fond of flowers and perfumes and especially enjoyed blooded doves whose care he well understood. About twenty thousand of these peaceful birds are said to have made their home on the battlements of his palace. His historian[23] relates: “His Majesty deigned to improve them in a marvelous manner by crossing the races which had not been done formerly.”

[Footnote 23: Abul Fazl in Noer, I, 511.]

Akbar was passionately fond of hunting and pursued the noble sport in its different forms, especially the tiger hunt and the trapping of wild elephants,[24] but he also hunted with trained falcons and leopards, owning no less than nine hundred hunting leopards. He was not fond of battue; he enjoyed the excitement and exertion of the actual hunt as a means for exercise and recreation, for training the eye and quickening the blood. Akbar took pleasure also in games. Besides chess, cards and other games, fights between animals may especially be mentioned, of which elephant fights were the most common, but there were also contests between camels, buffaloes, cocks, and even frogs, sparrows and spiders.

[Footnote 24: M. Elphinstone, 519]

Usually, however, the whole day was filled up from the first break of dawn for Akbar with affairs of government and audiences, for every one who had a request or a grievance to bring forward could have access to Akbar, and he showed the same interest in the smallest incidents as in the greatest affairs of state. He also held courts of justice wherever he happened to be residing. No criminal could be punished there without his knowledge and no sentence of death executed until Akbar had given the command three times.[25]

[Footnote 25: J.T. Wheeler, IV, I, 168.]

Not until after sunset did the Emperor’s time of recreation begin. Since he only required three hours of sleep[26] he devoted most of the night to literary, artistic and scientific occupations. Especially poetry and music delighted his heart. He collected a large library in his palace and drew the most famous scholars and poets to his court. The most important of these were the brothers Abul Faiz (with the nom de plume Faizi) and Abul Fazl who have made Akbar’s fame known to the whole world through their works. The former at Akbar’s behest translated a series of Sanskrit works into Persian, and Abul Fazl, the highly gifted minister and historian of Akbar’s court (who to be sure can not be exonerated from the charge of flattery) likewise composed in the Persian language a large historical work written in the most flowery style which is the main source of our knowledge of that period. This famous work is divided in two parts, the first one of which under the title Akbarname, “Akbar Book,” contains the complete history of Akbar’s reign, whereas the second part, the Ain i Akbari, “The Institutions of Akbar,” gives a presentation of the political and religious constitution and administration of India under Akbar’s reign. It is also deserving of mention in this connection that Akbar instituted a board for contemporary chronicles, whose duty it was to compose the official record of all events relating to the Emperor and the government as well as to collect all laws and decrees.[27]

[Footnote 26: Loc. cit., 169.]

[Footnote 27: Noer, I, 432, 433.]

When Akbar’s recreation hours had come in the night the poets of his court brought their verses. Translations of famous works in Sanskrit literature, of the New Testament and of other interesting books were read aloud, all of which captivated the vivacious mind of the Emperor from which nothing was farther removed than onesidedness and narrow—mindedness. Akbar had also a discriminating appreciation for art and industries. He himself designed the plans for some extremely beautiful candelabra, and the manufacture of tapestry reached such a state of perfection in India under his personal supervision that in those days fabrics were produced in the great imperial factories which in beauty and value excelled the famous rugs of Persia. With still more important results Akbar influenced the realm of architecture in that he discovered how to combine two completely different styles. For indeed, the union of Mohammedan and Indian motives in the buildings of Akbar (who here as in all other departments strove to perfect the complete elevation of national and religious details) to form an improved third style,[28] is entirely original.

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