Artists in early modern South Asia drew inspiration from many literary and artistic traditions, and among the most influential texts was the "Shahnama," a Persian epic poem describing the reigns of legendary and historical rulers of Iran. In surviving illustrated manuscripts, one finds a variety of approaches taken to the depiction of the epic’s most popular stories. Reconstructing and analyzing a dispersed 17th-century "Shahnama" from India’s Deccan Plateau, this talk explores how one group of artists illustrated these tales and what this tells us about the local courtly culture.
Laura Weinstein is Ananda Coomaraswamy Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She completed her Ph.D. under Professor Vidya Dehejia at Columbia University, where she researched a group of illustrated manuscripts produced in the South Indian city of Hyderabad in the 16th century. In 2010, she curated "Romantic Interludes: Women in 'Firdawsi’s Shahnama'," which celebrated the 1,000th anniversary of the Persian “Book of Kings,” and in 2011, she lead the reinstallation of the MFA’s South and Southeast Asian collections. Weinstein is currently working on a touring exhibition of the highlights of the MFA’s Islamic art collection and an accompanying catalog.
Her lecture is sponsored by the Department of Art and the History of Art, with generous support from the Eastman and Lamont Funds at Amherst College. It is free and open to the public.