Jordan Quill

PhD Student

‘Clothing the Palace: Indo-Persianate Textile Experience in the Courts of Northern India’

Supervisor: Professor Sussan Babaie

Advisor: Professor Deborah Swallow

Funded by AHRC Doctoral Studentship, Consortium for the Humanities and Arts South-East England (CHASE)

My PhD explores the use of textiles as creators of spaces, moods and sensory experiences, in the palaces of Northern India during the early modern period (c.1550-1800). It focuses on how the material properties of textiles contained and intensified multi-sensory activities, ‘completing’ architecture built in stone. The multi-dimensional and richly decorated royal fabrics of India had their own material and emotional agency, containing, capturing, reflecting and intensifying sounds (rāgas, ghazals, classical Indian music and poetry in Persian and other languages), smells and tastes of courtly feasts, the heat, flickering lamp light and smells of perfumes and scents. These textiles created an ambience or an ‘emotional mood’ that is site-specific, shared, and that holds onto and contains traces of historical emotions and sensory encounters. Working through multi-disciplinary methodologies based largely in Indian philosophies of space, mood and the senses, my thesis aims to resituate textiles as a major part of palatial architecture, investigating how the palaces of Northern India were used, seen and felt.


2021-present: PhD

Thesis title: Clothing the Palace: Indo-Persianate Textile Experience in the Courts of Northern India.

The Courtauld Institute of Art

2019-21: MPhil Tibetan and Himalayan Studies

Thesis title: An Interwoven World: Sensory Experiences of Textiles in the Alchi Sumtsek.

The University of Oxford (The Queen’s College/Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies)

2014-2017: BA (hons) History of Art

Dissertation title: From Fabric to Ceramic: Symbolic Experiences of Trellis Tents in the Khanate of Khiva.

The Courtauld Institute of Art

Professional Background

The Courtauld Institute of Art, MA Buddhist Art History and Conservation, Research Assistant (2022): I was research assistant to Dr. Sujatha Meegama and Dr. Lorinda Wong working with the conservation department, assisting with reading lists and locating possible site visits for the newly re-established MA in Buddhist Art History and Conservation. I was also able to offer my assistance with the Tibetan and Himalayan aspects of the course.

Joss Graham Gallery (2018-2023): Joss Graham Gallery is a world-renowned centre for antiquities and textiles from around the world, but specialising in antique textiles from the Indian Subcontinent. Working here has enabled me to develop a keen interest and deep knowledge of textiles and arts from the Indian Subcontinent, Tibet, the Himalayas, South West China, Western Africa and Burma. I have technical experience in working with and restoring antique textiles, and have been involved in public events and private views, hanging new displays of antique works of art, dealing with curators, lecturers and collectors, and with helping with public engagement on social media. I have experience in working with major interior design companies, and with bespoke-made products. As part of my work, I have been fortunate enough to attend pre-auction exhibitions at Christie’s Auction House, attend meetings with textile conservators, and also to carry out research for dating and identifying numerous textiles and other artefacts.

Turkmen Gallery (2017-8): The Turkmen Gallery is a specialist commercial gallery in London, which acts to promote the traditional arts and crafts industries of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Qaraqalpaqstan. It is primarily a textiles gallery, and I was responsible for products both new and from the nineteenth century.

Volunteer Work

Himalayan Tribal Buddhist Welfare Society (2022-present): Consultant volunteer translator and secretary for the Himalayan Tribal Buddhist Welfare Society (हिमालय बौद्ध जनजातीय कल्याण सभा / ཧི་མཱ་ལ་ཡའི་ནང་པའི་རིགས་རྒྱུད་བདེ་དོན་ཚོགས་པ།).

LopLao སློབ་སླའོ།  (Easy Tibetan) (2021): Trustee (secretary) for LopLao, a Tibetan language school based in the UK, for a short period while it functioned as a charity.

Turquoise Mountain (2017-8): I worked as a Research Volunteer under the Cultural Protection Fund to academically investigate Murad Khani, the historic nineteenth-century centre of Kabul, Afghanistan. This project aimed to underpin the restoration work carried out by Turquoise Mountain on site, where traditional crafts industries are taught and encouraged, something I am deeply passionate about.

Courtauld Institute of Art Annual Book Sale (2015-7): I helped with the organising, collecting, pricing, setting up, and selling at the Courtauld book sale in 2015 and 2016.

Language Proficiency

I have a thorough knowledge of spoken and literary Tibetan (བོད་སྐད་/ཡིག), and conversational skills in Uzbek (O’zbekcha). I also have experience reading in Russian (Ру́сский Язы́к).

For my PhD research I have strengthened and extended my existing knowledge of Persian (فارسی)  and am studying Hindi (हिन्दी) and Urdu (اُردُو‎).

Teaching and Lectures

2022: Guest Lecturer, ‘Spaces, Moods and Senses: Textiles and Palaces in Northern India’, BA History of Art, George Washington University

2022: Special Public Lecture, ‘How can we Capture the Feelings of the Past? Encounters with Textiles and Spaces in Mughal India’, Mehr Chand Mahajan DAV College for Women, Panjab University

2023: TA in the History of Art, The Courtauld Summer University, The Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London

2023: Gallery Talk, ‘Encounters with Objects from the Silk Roads in The Courtauld Collection’, The Courtauld Summer School, The Courtauld Gallery

2023: TA in the History of Art, Art History Link Up, taught at The Courtauld Institute of Art

2023: Public paper, ‘At the Intersection of Political and Ritual functions of textiles: Sensory Experiences of Textiles in the Sumtsek at Alchi, Ladakh’, at the 28th Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium at The Courtauld Institute of Art.


Jordan Quill, ‘Senses, Moods and Spaces: Experiencing Textiles and Architecture during the Monsoon’ in Reading Corner 15, 1 (July-September 2023), Delhi: Niyogi Books, 1.

Jordan Quill, ‘An Interwoven World: Sensory Experiences of Textiles in the Sumtsek at Alchi, Ladakh’ in Immediations: The Courtauld Institute of Art Journal of Postgraduate Research 20 (2023), The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 50-75.

Awards and Grants

AHRC Doctoral Studentship, Consortium for the Humanities and Arts South-East England (CHASE) (2021-present)

Ancient and Modern Award (prize no. 12, 2019) – sponsored by the HALI and Cornucopia journals: Research in Fergana, Samarqand, Bukhara and Khiva into the textiles of Uzbek Central Asia.

John Hayes Travel Grant award- Uzbekistan (2016): I was awarded a grant to travel to Uzbekistan on completion of the second year of my BA degree, and taking a course on Timurid art and architecture.

Professional and Academic Memberships

Research Interests

Indian textiles; Mughal art, painting and architecture; Rajput art, painting and architecture; Classical Indian music; Indian dance and costume; Pre-Mughal India; The History of Emotions in India; Sensory Theory; British India; Hindi literature; Persian Literature; Urdu literature; Timurid architecture, painting and portable arts; The Silk Roads; Mongol and Il Khanid art and architecture; Tibetan and Nepalese art and architecture; Tibetan language; Newar architecture of the Kathmandu Valley; Tibetan thangka painting; The Himalayan silk route; Architecture in Ladakh; Himalayan languages; Himalayan textiles.