Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Unknown Artist
Tribal People Hunting Black Buck at Night
Work Type
late 18th century
Creation Place: South Asia, India, Uttar Pradesh, Faizabad
Mughal period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
31.75 x 22.7 cm (12 1/2 x 8 15/16 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of John Kenneth Galbraith
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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On a night graced by a full moon, three Bhil hunters, two women and one man, approach a herd of entranced deer. The painting displays one of the many forms of hunting described by Abul Fazl, the court historian of Mughal emperor Akbar and author of the Âîn-i Akbarî. The ghantabhera hunt employed trackers from the Bhil tribe who carried shields or baskets with the concave sides away from them. A lamp in the concavity of the shield or basket created a reflected beam of light while also concealing the bearer. In this scene, a female tracker also rings a small bell. The sound of the bell and the light of the lamps attracts the animals toward the hunters; as Abul Fazl describes, "Sometimes hunters will charm them with a song, and when the deer approach will rise up and cruelly slay them."

This painting comes from the provincial Mughal school at Faizabad, a center known for producing many versions of this subject. A red sandstone fortress rises in the distance, drawing attention to the division between the ordered urban space of the Mughal empire and the rugged wilderness of the tribal people who lived at its fringes.
(label text from Sport of Kings exhibition January 2005).
Publication History

Stuart Cary Welch and Milo Cleveland Beach, Gods, Thrones, and Peacocks Northern Indian Painting from Two Traditions, exh. cat., Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1965), page 97/figure 64

Exhibition History

Ambassador's Choice: The Galbraith Collection of Indian Painting, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/15/1986 - 04/06/1986

Gods, Thrones, and Peacocks - Revisited: Northern Indian Miniatures from two Traditions, Fifteenth to Nineteenth Centuries, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/31/1990 - 06/10/1990

From India's Hills and Plains: Rajput Painting from the Punjab and Rajasthan, 17th through 19th Centuries, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/04/1993 - 10/31/1993

Rasika, the Discerning Connoisseur: Indian Paintings from the John Kenneth Galbraith Collection, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/1998 - 04/05/1998

The Sport of Kings: Art of the Hunt in Iran and India, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/22/2005 - 06/26/2005

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at