Modern Indian Art
The carefully rendered shamsa is painted using pigments ground by hand from metals and minerals.
The traditional range of colours used in illumination are made from the most precious substances, which is why there is a preponderance of pure gold, silver, lapis lazuli (blue), cinnabar (red), and malachite (green).
The word 'Shamsa' derives from the Arabic word for the sun. By the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it became a customary device for the opening pages of royal manuscripts in Safavid Iran and Mughal India. Traditionally the centre is left as a plain gold disc, representing the singularity from which all emerges.