NEW Course 24
Power, Politics and Architecture: Palaces and Gardens in Mughal South Asia
Dr Mehreen Chida-Razvi
Summer School – Online
Monday 12 – Friday 16 July 2021
How does architecture reflect power? This fundamental question is the theme running through this course, exploring the great palaces and gardens built by the emperors and courtly elite in South Asia during the Mughal era. The Mughals were the dynastic rulers of much of the region from 1526-1858, and were originally of Central Asian origin. Examining form, layout, decoration, and spatial conceptualisation, we ask what these architectural commissions say about the representation of their political power in the region. What were the ceremonial activities which took place within these spaces? How did rulers’ ritual activities dictate the creation of their built space? How can decoration and style be used to present imperial ideology? Can the form of a building express political or dynastic importance?
It will be seen that palace and garden architecture became symbolic of Mughal imperial power, and that the concepts of these spaces were then copied and emulated by other nobles and local rulers within South Asia, including, for example, the Rajput ruling elite. Their adoption and adaptation of Mughal imperial spaces exemplifies the symbolic resonance of architecture as an expression of power.
The course will examine architectural spaces produced during the 16th-19th centuries, including Mughal palaces in Fatehpur Sikri and Delhi; Mughal gardens in Delhi, Agra and Kashmir; and Rajput palaces and gardens in Jaipur, Orchha and Gwalior.