Sylvia W. Houghteling F'14
Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2014
History of Art
Politics, Poetry and the Figural Language of South Asian Textiles, 1600-1730
In 1700, figural patterns disappeared from South Asian cloth. Coinciding with the rise of European trade and the breakdown of the Mughal Empire, the loss of human imagery marked the end of an era of cultural contact through luxury textiles. This dissertation examines textiles from the preceding century, arguing that seventeenth-century cloths bearing images of people had once shaped cultural norms and connected distant courtly spaces. In studying the local and regional trade in seventeenth-century Indian textiles, this project reveals three broader facets of early modern South Asia: the existence of inter-regional networks of cultural exchange, the cosmopolitanism of the South Asian elite, and the active participation of cloth in the politics and pageantry of courtly life.