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Simon Ray
Indian & Islamic Works of Art

Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper
India (Mughal)
17th century
Height: 20.8 cm Width: 13.1 cm 


This elegant painting shows a mythical bird. While the bird cannot be identified as any known species and its highly coloured plumage is imaginary, the artist may have based some aspects of his exotic creation on a type of bustard. The long legs and neck, together with the short bill and crest, are reminiscent of the Lesser Florican Sypheotides indic. 

The bird has a large piercing eye; yellow crest and tail; green, black and grey wings; red legs with sharp curling talons; sandy pink feathers to the body; and a black speckled neck. It stands on a patch of grass dotted with delicate small flowers. Tall, poised and alert, with just opening wings and arched talons, the bird seems about to stalk across the page or take off in flight, a sense of movement heightened by the grasses that lean towards the right, as if swept by the wind. 
all text, images © Simon Ray


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