A Demon With Ruby Eyes

Ahmed Asif, Manan

This essay takes a longitudinal look at how different communities dealt with political and theological difference in the same space. It examines accounts of Uch Sharif, in contemporary Pakistan, from the thirteenth century to the present. It specifically traces a motif of ‘ruby eyes’ in Arabic and Persian historiography in an effort to delineate how difference was represented and assimilated. It argues that until the late colonial period, religious difference was mutually comprehensible, even if incommensurate. The rupture of meaning in recognising difference continued in different ways in the post-colonial state of Pakistan. The study provides a methodological argument for reshaping the ways in which we look at landscape, built environment and community, in contemporary South Asia. By situating the textual production of the past alongside the material remnants of the past, this essay reads simultaneously ethnographic and textual understandings of difference in Uch Sharif.

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The Medieval History Journal

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April 15, 2014