What is the course about?
Elegant dress was an integral part of court ceremony under the Mughal Emperors of India. With their rich heritage of textiles and dress from Central Asia and Iran, the early Mughals of India were quick to assimilate Indian modes of attire to create a distinctive sartorial synthesis, the influence of which has prevailed to the present day.
Using documentary and visual resources from the period, we will explore how court fashion evolved under Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. These include accounts from the personal diaries of the Emperors, reports by court historians and visitors, manuscript and album paintings depicting court ceremony, and surviving artefacts in museum collections.
We will look at:
• The Turco-Mongol roots of Mughal costume, including court pageantry and the royal institution of distributing ceremonial robes to the royal household and as diplomatic gifts.
• Industries and imperial workshops set up under the Mughals in India to provide luxury textiles and crafts for the production of clothing for the royal household.
• The influence of Indian dress and textile production in Gujarat, the Rajput kingdoms and the Eastern regions of Bengal.
• The import of Safavid dress and textiles from Iran.
• Personal innovations introduced by the Emperors, for example Akbar’s preference for the Indian Jama as his upper garment, and Jahangir’s adoption of a European-style coat and English portrait miniatures as adornment.
• The evolution of clothing and adornment worn by the ladies of the royal household.
• Ceremonial military dress as worn at court.
What will we cover?
• Court fashions in India under Mughal Emperors Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan.
• The setting up of Imperial workshops supplying textiles and crafts to the Mughal court.
• Foreign and indigenous influences on the evolution of Mughal court fashions.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Discuss the development of court fashion under the early Mughal Emperors, giving at least 2 examples of the assimilation of local Indian dress or textiles.
• List / describe 3 examples of textile or craft industries that were set up under Emperor Akbar.
• Identify developments in Mughal dress distinctive to the reign of each of the four named Emperors.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is suitable for all levels.
You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, hand-outs and health and safety information, and will be invited to take part in group discussion.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught with slide presentations and group discussions. There will also be a small handling collection of costumes and textiles.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You might wish to bring a notebook. You might wish to buy some of the books on any reading list given out in class.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
This focus day can be enjoyed as a stand-alone study day. It can also be attended as an additional enrichment for students attending longer courses on the arts in the Islamic world.
You might also be interested in:
• VB257 - The Formation of Islamic Art in the Medieval World
• VB438 - Arts of the Empire Builders: Timurids, Safavids and Mughals.
• VB429 - Asian Art: India and the Middle East.
General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details