He is presented here with a sharply pointed nose, a well trimmed moustache curving downwards, thoughtful eyes, and prominently delineated ears with an upward thrust. These, and the scarf on his shoulders, are characteristic features of most portraits of Shahjahan. Rubies, emeralds, pearls, and sapphires and diamonds to some extent, seem to have been his chosen stones. By assimilating all these features in his portrayal, the artist has reached almost near his real likeness. Both the oval mount and the rectangular frame are embellished with floral designs gorgeously laid in gold, which constitutes a characteristic feature of the Mughal art style, post Jehangir.
Jehangir's third son Khurram Shihab al-Din Muhammad, who ruled as Shahjahan from 1628 to 1657, was born in 1592 to a Rajput queen of Jehangir from Marwar. When twenty, he was married to Arjumand Banu Begum renamed later as Mumtaz Mahal. History bears testimony to Shahjahan's two passions, one for his wife Mumtaz Mahal and the other for architecture. The Tajmahal stands as the highest monument of love. Built in the memory of his beloved Mumtaz Mahal, it combines both his infatuations - architecture and his mad yearnings for Mumtaz, the companion of his struggles, woes, and miseries in his adverse days.
Shahjahan had not only led the Mughal Empire to greater geography, but also to far greater cultural heights. But in an ironical twist of faith, this cultured and romantic Mughal had to suffer during his last phase at the much uncultured and brutal hands of his own orthodox and power greedy son, Aurangzeb. Shahjahan passed away in humiliating captivity at Agra fort, in his own creation, the Musammam Burz, gazing at The Tajmahal with his fading vision, tossing his restless head in the lap of his daughter Jahanara, who had refused a part in her brother Aurangzeb's magnificent empire, and had preferred to serve her father in his last days.
Description by Dr. Daljeet.
Dr. Daljeet is Curator, National Mueseum of india, New Delhi.