This is a source-book for those who wish to obtain specialized information regarding the material culture of Akbar’s times. It is not a book that one expects to complete at one reading, but is more in the nature of a reference book, aiding such of us as would wish to verify whether, for example, a kettle-drum of a particular type was known in Akbar’s days or if flutes of a specific variety were then in vogue.
Som Prakash Verma is a Lecturer in history at the Aligarh Muslim University and this book is a revised edition of his doctoral thesis. Verma has painstakingly studied miniature after miniature, culling information regarding the exact shapes of utensils and wine cups, the different varieties of musical instruments, the nature of costumes, the precise types of arms, armour and so on. As the author tells us, such details are not available from official chronicles or other historical accounts, while the miniatures offer evidence about a variety of objects that a chronicler would normally not deem worthy of report. One can see that the book is the result of a great deal of research and analytical work; the information thus collected has been set out in a series of eight chapters devoted to these various subjects and catalogued under specific sub-headings. The sketches illustrating the various types of headgear, clothes, shoes, utensils, of drums, pipes, daggers, axes, etc are of great value in enabling us to picture the objects listed and described.