The Mughals established their dynasty in India in the early 16th century in an empire that soon stretched from Kabul in the west to Bengal in the east, and from Kashmir in the north to the edges of the Deccan plateau in the south.
Successive emperors were keenly aware of the importance of art, architecture and luxury items to consolidate and enhance their power. As a culture derived from the itinerant court traditions of their Mongol and Timurid ancestors, they placed enormous value on the kinds of objects that were carried on one’s person (clothing, jewellery, weapons), in portable trunks (jade cups and illustrated manuscripts) and for setting up camp (carpets and tents). But the Mughals also drew extensively on Hindu concepts of sacred kingship and Indian architectural traditions to create a permanent presence in the landscape of North India.
• Speaker Dr Ursula Weekes is an independent art historian based in London who specialises in Mughal India. She teaches for the V&A Academy and leads tours to India. She was educated at Cambridge and the Courtauld Institute and subsequently lived in Delhi for seven years, teaching at the National Museum Institute and Jawaharlal Nehru University.
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