“The Moslems want to see everything from close by”

Monday 12 October, 16:00 (BST)   Online with Zoom

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image 002 yusen yu

Jahangir gazing at the picture of Virgin Mary, about 1620, National Museum, New Delhi


Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

Yusen Yu (University of Oxford)

“The Moslems want to see everything from close by”: seeing in pre-modern Eurasia

In 1626 , to gift their Mughal host in India, Francisco Pelsaert, an agent for the Dutch East India Company,  sent the following request to his superiors in Europe: “Send us two or three good battle pictures, painted by an artist with a pleasing style, for the Moslems (Muslims) want to see everything from close by.” My talk starts with a discussion of the (in)validity of Pelsaertʼs observation and bring together a range of case studies to examine the relationship between objects and its beholders in Muslim societies in pre-modern Eurasia. It will also tentatively explore the link of the viewing habitus with the science of optics.

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