In our Little New-Yorkers program, we explore living in New York through an array of wonderful children’s books that introduce us to and help us explore the city. We explore anything from travelling on the subway to meeting characters from different cultures that make up this city’s 8 million inhabitants.
As we continue to venture into the galleries, our little ones are being introduced more and more to the museum’s collections, such as our recent Madeline exhibition, or hidden gems like the painting below.
I recently came across this painting in our exhibition The Works: Salon Style at the New-York Historical Society. I was immediately drawn to its beautiful architecture and the warm colors. I was even more excited to find out that this seemingly random (and exceptionally small) painting of a corner of a building had a story attached that would transport us from New York to India.
In October, we’ll be exploring this painting by American artist Edwin Lord Weeks.
Painted between 1880-1890 it depicts a partial view of a building in India. Weeks was an American painter known for specialising in exotic subjects after he travelled extensively in countries such as Egypt, Jerusalem, Damascus and Tangier.
The building in the painting, called Birbal House, in Futtehpore-Sikri, was built in 1571 by the great Mughal emperor Akbar. He built the city as his capital, before the city was abandoned in 1585 when the capital was moved to Delhi.
There are many stories and mythologies attached to the site of Futtehpore-Sikri, most about the Emperor Akbar’s and his ‘9 Jewels of the Court’. These were nine extraordinary people that the emperor, a lover of great intellectuals and talents, would surround himself with in his court.
One of these men was called Tansen the Great. He was considered one of the greatest musicians that ever lived and was known as a music magician. It is said that he could work miracles with his singing. It was this talent that led him to become the court musician and one of the 9 Jewels.
On 7 and 10 October, the Little New-Yorkers program will hear the most famous mythical story about Tansen and his music. We’ll explore the Raag (or Raga), a style of music native to India. And be introduced to the legendary Raag Deepak, a famous mythical song that has been lost and thus unknown to us today (adding to the mystery of the story).
Do you want to find out why this song is lost? Come and join us to find out!