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The rekhta of architecture: the development of ‘Islamic’ art history in Urdu, c.1800-1950

Green, Nile (2023) The rekhta of architecture: the development of ‘Islamic’ art history in Urdu, c.1800-1950. Journal of Art Historiography (28). ISSN 2042-4752

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URL of Published Version: https://arthistoriography.wordpress.com/28-jun23/

Identification Number/DOI: https://doi.org/10.48352/uobxjah.00004261


This essay offers the first survey of architectural history after the Muslim conquests in the Indian Subcontinent in Urdu, the major Muslim literary language of colonial India. Contributing to the history of art history in non-European contexts, the essay traces the emergence of a deliberately ‘Islamic’ art history as the outcome of intellectual exchanges between Indian, European, and Middle Eastern authors. Reflecting this mixed provenance, the popular and scholarly texts examined here are termed ‘architectural rekhta’ by using the old name for Urdu (Rekhta: ‘mixed’). In apt architectural metonymy, ‘Rekhta’ was renamed ‘Urdu’ in homage to the Urdu-e Mu‘ala (or Red Fort of Delhi), revealing a conceptual link between the palace of the last Mughal emperors and Urdu as its language based on the centrality of buildings to Indo-Muslim cultural memory. Consequently, when colonial Muslim authors combined elements of European practice with their own concerns to produce their ‘mixed’ mode of art historical writing, architecture became their primary focus. In line with the themes of this special issue of the JAH, this approach examines the ‘post-Persianate’ cultural memory of Indian art of the Islamic period.

Type of Work:Article
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
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This article is archived in ePapers for preservation purposes

Date:June 2023
Keywords:architecture, India, colonial, Mughal, Arabic, memory
Subjects:N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Copyright Status:Copyright for articles published in this journal is retained by the authors, with first publication rights granted to the journal. Authors may subsequently archive and publish the pdfs as produced by the journal. By virtue of their appearance in this open access journal, articles are free to use, with proper attribution, in educational and other non-commercial settings. Copyright restrictions apply to the use of any images contained within the articles. This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International License https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
ID Code:4261
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