How the Mughals Created a Persian Shangri-La
The valley of Kashmir held a special place for the Mughal imperial family in the seventeenth century. As the summer retreat for the court it represented the actualization of a Persian garden enshrined in poetry. Through the efforts of several individuals, Kashmir gained importance as a cultural center of Persian poetry and painting. This gave rise to a literary vogue under the Emperor Shah Jahan (r. 1628-58) where the court’s annual ritual journey to the valley, the natural beauty of the region, as well as its newly constructed buildings and gardens were celebrated in verse. Many court poets wrote about the valley and created a poets colony there, while some even wrote about it in a uniquely personal way. This lecture will explore the coming together of poetry and painting to capture the features of a landscape that was both imperial territory and wild nature.
Sunil Sharma is Professor of Persian & Indian Literatures at Boston University’s Department of World Languages & Literatures. His research interests are in the areas of literary and visual cultures, translation, and travel writing. He has authored several books on Indo-Persian literature: Persian Poetry at the Indian Frontier: Mas‘ud Sa‘d Salman of Lahore (2000), and Amir Khusraw: The Poet of Sultans and Sufis (2005); and In the Bazaar of Love: The Selected Poetry of Amir Khusrau (with Paul Losensky, 2011). He will speak from his forthcoming book, Mughal Arcadia: Persian Poetry at an Indian Court.