Seminar on Art, Architecture and Historiography in Mughal Empire

Aligarh: “The study of building technology is of immense importance from the perspective of historiography. The plurality of the architectural heritage of India is very fascinating”, said Professor Irfan Habib, renowned historian and  Professor Emeritus, Department of History, AMU, while delivering the keynote address in the inaugural session of the 3-day national seminar on the topic ‘Mughal Empire: Art, Architecture and Historiography’, organized by the Department of History, Centre of Advanced Study, Aligarh Muslim University.

Speaking on the ‘Mughal Architecture and History Writing’, Prof Habib delineated the diverse influences that shaped Mughal architecture, highlighting how the domes were borrowed from the Byzantine Empire while the vault was an import from the Greeks. “Even the use of binding material like lime and gypsum was borrowed by the Muslims from Persians and Greeks”, he remarked.

Prof. Habib emphasised on the cosmopolitan outlook of the Mughal Emperors Akbar and Jahangir as represented in the writings of their periods. “The court chronicles like the Ain-i Akbari and Tuzuk-iJahangiri, describe at length about the multicultural ethos of the Mughals which can be easily gauged through their architecture”, he pointed out.

Presiding over the inaugural session, Professor Tariq Mansoor, Vice-Chancellor, AMU appreciated the contributions of the Department of History as the Centre of Advanced Study for being the flagship department of the University.

He described the contributions of the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh in the overall intellectual and cultural efflorescence of the age and how he has become a symbol of diversified Indian culture and society.

Prof Mansoor talked about several important architectural marvels created by the Mughals like the Pari Mahal garden in Kashmir. He also mentioned Prof. Ebba Koch’s recent book, The Planetary King, which highlights Humayun’s contribution to the art and architecture of the Mughals.

The Vice-Chancellor further said Sir Syed Ahmad Khan had contributed greatly to the rich architectural legacy of India.

Earlier in the day, Prof. Gulfishan Khan, Chairperson, the Department of History welcomed the guests and delegates both online and offline, highlighting the legacy of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University, and his contribution to the field of history of architecture through his work Asar-us Sanadid. She underlined the significance of many historical structures like the Akbarabadi Mosque, and some buildings within Red Fort which were lost following the revolt of 1857.

“The thrust area of the Centre of Advanced Study is historiography, which encompasses painting, architecture, art and the subject History itself”, the Chairperson added and informed that during the next three days, scholars from France, Italy, USA, Japan, India among others will present papers on different aspects of the topic.

Prof. Ali Athar, Department of History, AMU proposed the vote of thanks, while Dr Lubna Irfan, Assistant Professor, Department of History, conducted the proceedings.

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