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Tamara Sears on "Landscape Encounters: Materialities of Travel and Perceptions of Place in Precolonial India (c. 1340-1528)"
Tamara Sears on "Landscape Encounters: Materialities of Travel and Perceptions of Place in Precolonial India (c. 1340-1528)"
WhenFriday, Nov. 3, 2017, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Campus room317
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsUW South Asia Center, Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas

In 1341, the famed Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta was appointed by the sultan Muhammad Tughluq to accompany a group of Chinese emissaries on their return voyage to the Mongol court.  Accompanied by a large caravan laden with gifts, he set off from Delhi and wove his way through the wildernesses of central India towards the coastal port at Cambay.  Nearly two hundred years later, in the 1520s, the Mughal emperor Babur traversed a similar geography but for a very different purpose.  Departing from Agra, he traveled with his army intent on conquering the strategically crucial fortress at Chanderi.  Weaving together field survey of architecture and material culture, textual narratives, and painted media, this talk explores the geographies traversed by Ibn Battuta and Babur, with a particular focus on the routes that they followed and the sites that served as their points of convergence.  Once part of a dynamic network of trade and travel, these places today retain a rich architectural history, visible through dozens of monuments, including temples, stepped wells, mosques, commemorative hero stones, and elaborate cenotaphs.  By looking comparatively at the journeys of Ibn Battuta and Babur, this presentation has two purposes.  The first is to chart out the ways in which architecture and landscape shaped and were shaped by changing historical circumstances. The second is to examine the ways in which different modes and experiences of travel framed perceptions of place.

Tamara Sears is Associate Professor of Art History at Rutgers University.  Her research focuses on the art and architectural history of the Indian subcontinent. Her first book, Worldly Gurus and Spiritual Kings: Architecture and Asceticism in Medieval India (Yale University Press, 2014), received the PROSE award in Architecture and Urban Planning. Her essays have appeared in well over a dozen volumes and journals, including The Art Bulletin, Ars Orientalis, and Archives of Asian Art. She has held faculty positions at Florida State University, NYU, and Yale, and she has received grants and fellowships from Fulbright, the J. Paul Getty Foundation, the Society of Architectural Historians, the National Humanities Center, Dumbarton Oaks, and the Clark Art Institute. She is currently working on a book project that examines the relationships among architecture, environmental history, and travel on local, regional, and global scales.

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