Animals In The Mughal Empire

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The Mughal rule, which roughly extended from 1526 to 1707, was a period when the political and natural environments of much of the Indian subcontinent underwent drastic change. The Mughals had a deep fascination towards nature but also acknowledged their superiority, both as humans and as royals, over it as well as the tribal societies that lived amidst nature. Their constant involvement in warfare led them to look at the forest and animals such as elephants and horses as precious resources; consequently, the military demands of an empire the size of the Mughals’ took a toll on these resources. Extensively engaging with nature for political and social purposes, the Mughals played an important role in transforming the pluralistic landscapes that fell under their empire. But more importantly, they paved the way for the colonial period to extract resources from nature in an intensive way; the impact of their engagement with nature was felt strongly only during the later colonial period. The common view of animals from the perspective of the Mughal rulers was that of entertainment. The Mughals directly interacted with animals in two spheres, when they went hunting in royal parties and when guests from all over the world brought exotic animals into court. Ustad Mansur’s anatomically detailed paintings of the dodo and the Siberian crane, and the highly detailed accounts that the court kept about the animals owned by the emperors show the curiosity they held regarding their
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