The Heritage of Islamic Art in India
Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1982, pp. 2-31 [Also in An Age of Splendour - Islamic Art in India edited by Saryu Doshi and Karl Khandalavala; Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1983; pp. 2-31]
The might of Islam came to India not in the context of conquerors, but as rulers who already had traditions of praiseworthy literature, architecture, and other arts inherited from Central Asia and Persia. The heritage of Islamic art in India was inevitably a fusion of the artistic talents of the rulers and the ruled. The Sultanates and the Mughal courts had to rely on the skills of a variety of Indian artists, artisans, and craftsmen in the creation of their architectural splendours and artistic products.
The Snake and the Camel Rider
Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1982, pp. 32-33 [Also in An Age of Splendour - Islamic Art in India edited by Saryu Doshi and Karl Khandalavala; Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1983; pp. 32-33]
The Arabic version of the Panchatantra tales was called Kalila-u-Damna and the Persian translation was known as Anwar-i-Suhaili. Emperor Akbar ordered another translation for his courts known as Iyar-e-Danish. The illustration discussed here is from the manuscript generally accepted as a copy of the Anwar-i-Suhaili. It is based on the second sub-tale related by a mouse to a crow. The illustration itself is of a snake engulfed in a blaze of fire calling for help. A camel-rider saves it. The influence of the "Lahore Period" and European elements is noticed in the painting. The style is so standardized that it is hard to identify its painter.
Illustrated Islamic Manuscripts
Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1982, pp. 34-51 [Also in An Age of Splendour - Islamic Art in India edited by Saryu Doshi and Karl Khandalavala; Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1983; pp. 34-51]
The article is a detailed review of 10 illustrated manuscripts of Muslim India; 2 of the Sultanate period, 6 of the Mughal period, and 2 Deccani. Manuscript illustration was one of the most important artistic activities during the Mughal period particularly in the reign of Akbar. However, with regard to the pre-Mughal period, apart from the illustrations of Jain, Vaishnava, and some secular texts known as the Gujarati or Jain style, it is only during the rule of the Lodi Sultanate that Indian artists began illustrating Persian classics for the first time in India. Such manuscript illustrations are not regarded as works of aesthetic excellence but they do possess a naivety of their own. They all belong to the second half of the 15th century. Their provenance, in the writers' opinion, is the Lodi kingdom, namely the belt stretching from Delhi to Jaunpur. A list of artists appearing in the Khandan-i-Timuria, Babur Nama, and Diwan-i-Hafiz also appears.
Indo-Islamic Arms and Armour
Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1982, pp. 52-59 [Also in An Age of Splendour - Islamic Art in India edited by Saryu Doshi and Karl Khandalavala; Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1983; pp. 52-59]
Islamic arms and armour exhibit various styles of decoration and most of the techniques that were employed for other articles were also applied to the embellishment of weapons. At times weapons were inscribed or even studded with gems. The following weapons are discussed in the article: bows, arrows and quivers; swords; daggers; jambia; body armour; shields; horse armour; elephant armour; and other weapons.
Indo-Islamic Metal and Glassware
Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1982, pp. 60-71 [Also in An Age of Splendour - Islamic Art in India edited by Saryu Doshi and Karl Khandalavala; Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1983; pp. 60-71]
Though there is literary evidence that metalcraft flourished during the Sultanate period in India, no examples survive. During the Mughal period, decorative arts began to show a fusion of indigenous, Persian, and European techniques and design. Enamelwork (mina) on gold and silver is notable among the Mughal innovations in metalcraft. The Deccani sultans made an important contribution to Indian metalwork, particularly in introducing Bidriware. The use of glass objects became common in India only after the advent of the Muslims. Late 16th-17th century Mughal, Deccani, and other paintings reinforce the view that glass was being used by the Mughal emperors, princes, and noblemen, and also by their Deccani counterparts. Around this time, European glass was frequently imported into India. The best-known examples of "Mughal glass" were decorated by cutting glass using wheel-engraving. The decorative motif was largely the commonly seen Mughal motif of the flowering plant.
Islamic Coinage in India
Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1982, pp. 72-75 [Also in An Age of Splendour - Islamic Art in India edited by Saryu Doshi and Karl Khandalavala; Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1983; pp. 72-75]
Islamic coinage in India is represented by 3 groups of Muslim conquerors, the Arabs, the Turks, and the Mughals. The Turkish sultans, ruling north India in the12th-13th centuries, were perhaps the first to introduce a regular state currency, marking a gradual transition from indigenous forms and devices to purely Islamic types. Iltutmish (1210-35) was the first to strike a silver tanka, which was the model on which the tankas of the subsequent sultans were based. The duration of Afghan rule during the Mughal period, i.e., that of the Surs (1538-54), is when Sher Shah prepared the foundations of the future Indian rupee currency of the Mughals, colonial India, and independent India. He introduced "mohurs" in gold, "rupees" in silver and "dams" in copper. The Mughals, on the other hand, belong to an entirely different tradition as their coinage shows a tendency towards originality of forms and devices and individuality of artistic expression. Islamic conventions associated with coinage provide comprehensive historical data for all dynasties.
The Mughal Jades of India
Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1982, pp. 76-83 [Also in An Age of Splendour - Islamic Art in India edited by Saryu Doshi and Karl Khandalavala; Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1983; pp. 76-83]
Some European scholars hold the view that jade carving in India was started during the rule of Shah Jahan under Persian inspiration and possibly by Persian craftsmen. According to the writer, this is a far-fetched conclusion. The reign of Jahangir heralded a totally different style and tradition in the history of jade carving in India, a result of the emperor's love of Central Asian culture and art traditions. European scholars firmly hold the view that jade carving remained unknown in India till the last phase of Jahangir's rule. The writer disputes this. An era of artistic excellence and an overall assimilation of various artistic norms and traditions characterized the art during the reign of Shah Jahan. During the late Mughal period, jade carving continued to reflect the earlier traditions as well as incorporated some new alien forms, particularly Chinese forms and styles of jade carving.
Glimpses of Muslim Architecture in India
Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1982, pp. 84-101 [Also in An Age of Splendour - Islamic Art in India edited by Saryu Doshi and Karl Khandalavala; Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1983; pp. 96-113]
Islamic architecture made a beginning in India towards the close of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century. The Qutb Minar is the first original monument that the Turks built in India with a plan and design of its own, with material that was quarried and chiselled for the minar itself. The tomb of Iltutmish is the first monumental mausoleum of the Turks. Typically Hindu and Muslim designs have been used together in its stone carving. The most important feature here was that an attempt was made to roof the structure by a dome, which eventually collapsed. The arch, the principal feature of the medieval style, was used in different forms with different accessories in different regions. The evolutionary process had already been set in motion and important monuments existed when the Mughals took over the country. The Mughal building did not stand in isolation but was presented through gardens, stone-paved water channels, stone tanks and cascades, all arranged as an integral part of an architectural concept. Shah Jahan (1628-66) was the greatest builder of the Mughal dynasty. White marble replaced red sandstone and his mosques, palaces, and the Taj Mahal were built in this material.
Note: Mughal Carpets
Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1982, p. 102
Carpet-weaving as an industry was in all probability introduced in India by the Mughal emperors. The carpets from early looms resemble closely the productions of Herat and Khurasan and the Persian influence on these carpets is so marked that sometimes it difficult to establish their provenance. During Emperor Jehangir's reign a true indigenous style emerged. Many remarkable carpets depict the flowering plant motif.
Vol. 35 No. 2, March 1982, pp. 103–104
Architecture of the Islamic World: its history and social meaning by George Michell, reviewed by Sheilaja Mafatlal; India as seen by Amir Khusrau (in 1318 A.D.) by R. Nath and Faiyaz 'Gwaliari', reviewed by D.R. Amladi.