Theses Doctoral

Variations on a Persian Theme: Adaptation and Innovation in Early Manuscripts from Golconda

Weinstein, Laura S.

Scholarship on the earliest known illustrated manuscripts produced in the sultanate of Golconda has tended to describe these objects as the products of the extension of a powerful influence from Iran over this small kingdom in the Deccan. While this assessment rightly acknowledges the importance of Persianate visual traditions in early Golconda manuscripts and paintings, it oversimplifies the nature of these remarkable objects and the context of their production. In addition, it misrepresents the role of the artists involved in the manuscripts' creation.

This dissertation provides a more nuanced consideration of these objects and their making. It offers the first in-depth discussion of six manuscripts produced in Golconda between 1570 and 1610, demonstrating a previously unrecognized sophistication and creativity in the process of their creation. It also presents a newly discovered manuscript, one which significantly alters prevailing understandings of early manuscript painting in the Qutb Shahi sultanate. These studies identify several interrelated modes of engagement with Persianate forms, rather than a single stylistic progression towards local artistic "independence." In addition, they reveal how these various modes were calibrated towards different goals, sometimes using Persianate forms as a platform from which to explore various ways of constructing and illustrating narrative and poetic texts, while at other times using these forms to make claims of cultural sophistication or for the legitimating of new and local cultural phenomena.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Dehejia, Vidya J.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 28, 2013