Razm-nāma is a Persian translation of the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Akbar (r.1556-1605). The miniature used in the poster for this exhibit is reproduced from an 18th-century illustrated copy of Razm-nāma. It depicts a conversation between scholars from a wide range of backgrounds. With Abu’l Fazl, Akbar’s grand vizier and the official historian of the empire sitting at the top, this painting celebrates the cosmopolitan cultural outlook of Akbar’s reign.
Many of the illustrations in this copy have inscriptions in both Nastaliq and Devanagari indicating the identity of the figures in the picture. A common practice in early modern South Asia, the copresence of the two scripts, just like the translation of the epic itself, also attests to ‘meeting of the two oceans’, i.e., Persian and Sanskrit intellectual traditions. Interestingly, the two types of inscriptions do not always match exactly. In the case of the figure at the bottom-right, for instance, the Devanagari reads mārvāḍi (Marwari) while the Nastaliq reads rājapūta (Rajput).