Sunday, 16 January 2011

Yuka Kadoi- China/Iran interaction during the Moghul period

At the Dar al Athar al Islamiyah on the 12th of january 2011, in a surprise, unscheduled lecture, Dr. Yuka Kadoi gave a talk on the interaction between Iran and China during the Moghuls period in the 13th c. ad.
In a poised manner, she introduced many flamboyant ideas about art and history.
She covered many areas and objects from ceramics, to metal works, to miniatures. She, then, showed the evolution of the artisan's works and influences form China, through the Moghuls. She also stated that China, being as conservative as they were could not have been influenced by Persian artists. She compared europeans of that period being only on a one way mouvement and islamic chinoiserie being a fruitful admiration with fundamental interactions.  She tried to question the reason of having a lotus flower in the decoration of a metal bowl in Iran under the Moghuls when in China, lotus is a symbol of Buddhism. She showed pictures of figural images in manuscript, how before the Moghul invasion they were two dimensional and after the Moghuls, they had perspective, depth, and a better feel of space and height.
It is quite a narrow angle of looking at history.
But she added that interaction were limitless when the trade flourished through the silk road or maritime routes for a long time. She said that ideas did move, and there has been an interaction from east to west before the invasion of Iran by the Moghuls. Nomadic people, skilled artisans moved across borders and frontiers, and they brought with them teachings without restriction.
She also stressed on the need to enlarge the definition of Islamic Art, since it is not only one style and one block, and fade away from the obsession to find one absolute version of islamic art.
She talked about paper trading from China at that time and how that trade had influenced a much larger and wider production of manuscripts.
Are we not still trying to understand the impact of trading with China on our culture and art? are we not still trying to define islamic art in an absolute, pure term or rather in a contemporary, interactive way?
Debates are open and scholars help us search for answers.


William of Arabia said...

I am really sorry that I missed this since the topic is in my top 10 areas of interest! Too bad that it was an unscheduled lecture. Is the book still available? I would love to get a copy...

sarah said...

It was a really interesting lecture:
there is a detailed account on it by the Dar Al Athar Blog
and I think they do carry the book: Islamic Chinoiserie.