The Art of Cloth in Mughal India by Sylvia Houghteling

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The Art of Cloth in Mughal India by Sylvia Houghteling

4to. pp. 280. profusely illustrated. hardcover. dw. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2022.

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ISBN-10: 0691215782 / ISBN-13: 9780691215785


A richly illustrated history of textiles in the Mughal Empire

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a vast array of textiles circulated throughout the Mughal Empire. Made from rare fibers and crafted using virtuosic techniques, these exquisite objects animated early modern experience, from the intimate, sensory pleasure of garments to the monumentality of imperial tents. The Art of Cloth in Mughal India tells the story of textiles crafted and collected across South Asia and beyond, illuminating how cloth participated in political negotiations, social conversations, and the shared seasonal rhythms of the year.

Drawing on small-scale paintings, popular poetry, chronicle histories, and royal inventory records, Sylvia Houghteling charts the travels of textiles from the Mughal imperial court to the kingdoms of Rajasthan, the Deccan sultanates, and the British Isles. She shows how the “art of cloth” encompassed both the making of textiles as well as their creative uses. Houghteling asks what cloth made its wearers feel, how it acted in space, and what images and memories it conjured in the mind. She reveals how woven objects began to evoke the natural environment, convey political and personal meaning, and span the distance between faraway people and places.

Beautifully illustrated, The Art of Cloth in Mughal India offers an incomparable account of the aesthetics and techniques of cloth and cloth making and the ways that textiles shaped the social, political, religious, and aesthetic life of early modern South Asia.