Christian–Islamic Relations in the Court Art of Mughal India

By Punam Madhok.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Beginning in 1580, Jesuit missionaries introduced the Mughal Emperors, Akbar and Jahangir, to a wide spectrum of works of art from the Renaissance period. The realism and devotional power of images representing Christianity aroused much interest at the Mughal court. A stimulating dialog ensued, leading to the creation of Mughal–Christian art in a new hybrid vocabulary. No other Islamic culture painted as many works inspired by the Bible as did the artists of Mughal India. Each party had selfish interests at heart; the Jesuits wanted to uphold the supremacy of their faith while the Mughals wished to justify their right to rule in a foreign country. Although the Mughal Emperors did not adopt the Christian religion, they readily accepted Biblical imagery for it helped them express their ideas of governance. Unwittingly, the Jesuits found themselves fuelling Mughal imperialism. This paper attempts to shed further light on the strategies of acculturation that were at work.

Keywords: Jesuits and the Mughals, Mughal–Christian Art, Akbar and Jahangir

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp.67-78. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.228MB).

Dr. Punam Madhok

Associate Professor of Art History, School of Art and Design, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA

Punam Madhok is an Associate Professor of Art History at East Carolina University (1994-present). Between 1991-1993 she taught Art History at Illinois Wesleyan University and Gettysburg College. She studied and completed her Ph.D. in Italian Renaissance and Baroque art (1993) and her M.A. in Chinese art (1986) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her dissertation was on “The Drawing Books of Henry Peacham and Jan de Bisschop and the Place of Drawing in the Education of the Renaissance Gentleman.” She teaches courses in Italian Renaissance and Baroque art as well as in South, South-East, and East Asian art. She has presented papers at national and international conferences. Her published articles include “The Interplay between Marriage, Ritual, and Art in Mithila,” “Kalighat Painting: A Unique Folk Art of Nineteenth Century Calcutta,” “Rubens and the Classical Tradition,” and “The Gentleman’s Education and the Art of Drawing in Seventeenth Century England.” She has received grants to study works of art in Japan, Russia, Europe, and India. She exhibits her paintings at the Faculty Art Exhibition.


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