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Yoga: The Art of Transformation

Babur and his retinue visiting Gor Khatri
page 22b from a manuscript of Baburnama (The Book of Babur), 1590s
India; Mughal dynasty
Opaque watercolor, gold and ink on paper

The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, W. 596

This page from an illustrated manuscript portrays the Gor Khatri monastery (in present-day Pakistan). In its open courtyard, yogis with their bodies blue from purifying ash await dinner. One yogi wears a deer-horn whistle, characteristic of the Nath yoga tradition, which is associated with hatha yoga.

This painting illustrates an episode from the memoirs of the Mughal emperor Babur, who reigned over large parts of the Indian subcontinent. The page appears to depict a contemporaneous historical episode, but is in fact an imaginative reconstruction: whereas Babur encountered no yogis on his actual visit to Gor Khatri, he is nonetheless shown here (in gold turban) conversing with the head of the monastery.