Universiteit Leiden

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Scions of Turan

  • J. Comstock-Skipp
dinsdag 18 oktober 2022
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof.dr. G.R. van den Berg
  • Prof.dr. I.B. Smits


This dissertation investigates the arts of the book in the Abū’l-Khairid dynasty. Often and inaccurately called Shībānid, the Abū’l-Khairids occupied what would become Uzbekistan and surrounding territories across the sixteenth century. It focuses on specific illustrated works of battles and biographies composed in Persian and Turkish; the manuscripts encompass Shāhnāma productions and other works of epic poetry and dynastic history. The political and artistic strength of the Abū’l-Khairids was short-lived, but significant. Their leaders exchanged embassies with the Ottomans in Turkey and Mughals in India, and sparred with the Safavids in Iran. Although the official dates of the Abū’l-Khairid dynasty span 1500–1599, the examination extends the margins by two decades on either side. The focus is on the copyists and illustrators who contributed to the book creations, even if they worked in other artistic centers and political regions at other times.

These manuscripts, and the scribes and painters contributing to them, fostered extended cultural exchanges between khans in Central Asia and their regional counterparts: Safavid shahs, Ottoman sultans, and Mughal emperors. These interactions were not confined to high echelons, however, and the study also traces the migrations of artistic talent across courts and commercial hubs during periods of dynastic rivalry and economic strain. Ambassadors, pilgrims, merchants, scholars, and artisans transported the objects. In the analysis, art is not separate from political, religious, economic, or intellectual matters but synthesizes art, history, geography, politics, economics, the movement of manuscripts, and the social relationships of the individuals engaged in their manufacture and transit.


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