“Stories within Stories through Paintings from Mughal India” lecture by Sonya Quintanilla resurfaced the dynamic Mughal era. The lecture encompassed the famous Mughal paintings by emperors such as Akbar and Jahangir. The lecture outlined the amalgamation of Hindu and Muslim artworks.
One of the earliest projects commissioned by Akbar appears to be a manuscript of the Tutinama, Tales of the Parrot a manuscript, consisting of 261 paintings. The story revolves around a woman whose husband was away for a long period of time thereby leading her to fall in love with the Prince. As advised by her husband, the woman consulted the parrot that told her that she could go and commit adultery however, he always managed to stop her by telling her a story each night.
The Tutinama conveyed valuable life lessons through its unique story line. Case in point, the underlying message conveyed through the interaction between the woman and the parrot is that one must always be loyal and faithful to another individual. It also provided a subtle reference about the gender dynamics that were present in Akbar’s court. The older women were at the helm of affairs and were dominating while the younger women looked into the daily workings of the court. However, after Akbar became the emperor equality prevailed amongst genders, religions and castes.