Professor Mika Natif, Assistant Professor of Art History, was a recipient of a Sigur Center travel grant that helped her travel to India for a new research project. Read below for a description of her trip!
Over the break I went to India in order to start my new research project, focusing on Mughal female patrons, artists and portraiture. During this trip I visited palaces, museums, special libraries, and private collections in Delhi, Jaipur, Ajmer, Jodhpur and Rampur. I was mostly looking for images of women related to the Mughal courts during the times of Emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. I also wanted to see the places from which some of these women, wives, concubines and court ladies came. And I was also searching for any visual and textual materials I could find that were related to this topic. In some places I got luckier than in others.
One of these amazing places was the Raza Library in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh. This incredible collection of illustrated manuscripts and albums grew out of the personal library of the nawab (governor) of Rampur, Faizullah Khan, in end of the 18th century. The current beautiful building was constructed about one hundred years later to house the ever-growing library of rare specimens in Persian, Urdu, Arabic, Sanskrit, and other languages. Working at the Raza library, I was looking at portraits of Mughal women, especially of Nur Jahan, as well as illustrated historical texts, such as Rashid al-Din’s World History (Jami al-Tawarikh). I would like to thank Dr. Abu Sad Islahi and Faisal Khan for their generosity and help throughout my visit.
In my last days in New Delhi, I gave a lecture at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Prof. Kavita Singh invited me to celebrate the publication of my new book “Mughal Occidentalism” and I was delighted to do so in India, not too far from the Mughal palace itself. The lecture was a wonderful opportunity to see old and new colleagues, and meet with graduate students to discuss their work.