Misbah the Grocer Brings the Spy Parran to his House
Folio from a Hamzanama (The Adventures of Hamza)
Attributed to Dasavanta and Mithra, ca. 1570
Opaque watercolor, gold and ink on cotton 67.5 x 52.2 cm, 70.8 x 54.9 cm (folio)
Since at least the second century, ascetics freelanced as spies for Indic rulers. A fictional yogi-spy—wearing dreadlocks and sitting in a lodge adorned with the weapons of a militant ascetic—appears on a folio from the Hamzanama, a Persian adventure story illustrated for the Mughal emperor Akbar.
Image and caption courtesy of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery