Jnanapravaha | think critical. think art.

Upcoming Programmes

OCT Onwards
Theoretical Foundations
Module II. Civil War
Rohit Goel
NOV Onwards
Islamic Aesthetics
Seven Wonders of the Muslim Civilization
H. Masud Taj
NOV Onwards
Buddhist Aesthetics
Gandharan Art and Architecture
Pia Brancaccio
DEC Onwards
Indian Aesthetics
Art, Empire and the Nation
Renate Dohmen
Criticism & Theory
Zarina: Floating on the Dark Sea
Sandhini Poddar
DEC Onwards
Criticism & Theory
Liberalism and its Indian Afterlife
Faisal Devji

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Queens Mansion, 3rd Floor, G. Talwatkar Marg, Fort, Mumbai - 400001. India.
E-mail: to.jnanapravaha@gmail.com, info@jp-india.org
Tel      : +91-22-2207 2974 / 2207 2975
Landmark: We are next to Cathedral Middle School, in the lane opposite J.B.Petit School.



Art and Islamic Numismatics

11 - 13 Jan '18 6.00 - 8.30 pm

Image - Gold 20-Abbasi coin of Agha Muhammad Khan, Qajar ruler of Iran, struck at Tehran, in Hijri year 1210 (Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, acc. no. HCR7414)

The lectures delivered in this program will focus on various aspects of art of Islamic coins, from a wide geographic area stretching from Turkey to Malaysia, and covering nearly a thousand years. Each lecture will consist of two halves – in one, we will focus on a specific topic and in the other, expand it to a more wide interpretative and analytical study. We will be dealing with contextualising Islamic Numismatics and art of Islamic coins into broader historical themes.

Day 1 - January 11th
Iconography and Islamic Coinages
It is a general impression that Islam shuns icons and figurative art is not encouraged under Islamic rule. However, there have been many instances in the repertoire of coins in the wide Islamic world where icons and figural depictions have not only been allowed, but celebrated. A part of this phenomenon has to do with circulatory realities. But this is not the sole reason why iconic depictions appear on Islamic coins and even become the norm. The first part of the talk will focus on a ‘case-study’ involving a motif that brings together India, Iran, Central Asia, Mesopotamia and Turkey. Set within the context of ‘trans-regional connections’ we shall see how the ‘lion-and-sun’ motif spread across the monetary geography of the Islamic World, and what cultural, political or social connections can be seen in its spread. The second part of the talk will discuss icons on Islamic coins in a general sense. We will look at coinages from the Arabian Peninsula, the Jazira, Iran, Central Asia, India and the Far East to understand and appreciate the different contexts of such depictions.

Day 2 - January 12th
Numismatic Art of the Imperial Mughals
Mughal coins are among the most attractive series of Indian coins. Emperors like Jahangir in particular, showed a personal interest in, and affinity to, their coins and have left us wonders like the largest gold coin of the pre-modern period, a colossus weighing 11 kilos, impressed with inscriptions of highly artistic calligraphy and composed in high Farsi poetry. The first part of the lecture will outline salient elements in appreciation of the art of Mughal coins, focussing on technical elements like engraving of the dies. We will also see how poetry features in the artistry of Mughal coins, how political developments caused celebratory coins to be struck and how, coins as a medium of artistic expression, compare with the broader and more familiar themes in Mughal art, like that of illuminated manuscripts. The second part of the lecture will focus on a specific theme – how coins fitted into Mughal court culture, with reference to rituals of power, kingship and legitimacy. Here we will explore issuance of special coins for courtly functions like ‘Nazar’ and ‘Nisar’.

Day 3 - January 13th
Coinage and Sovereignty in Context of Art
The stage for this lecture is set in the 18th and 19th centuries. This lecture will explain and explore how design elements in the coins of the Mughals (and their successors), and circulatory realities come together to create complex and interesting tropes with regard to sovereignty, identity and ‘honour’. Our principal focus will be the coinage of the princely states which are essentially ‘pseudo-Mughal’, and in more than one way, a continuation of Islamic/Mughal coinage tradition. A major theme in the investigation will be to see how coinage reflected the changing facets of sovereignty, as it gradually passed from imperial Mughal to colonial British. In the second half, we will be looking mainly at commemorative medals, orders and decorations of Princely India, to explore themes of medallic art in pre-Modern India and how they were artistically articulated.

This public lecture is part of a course Islamic Aesthetics: In Praise of Aj’aib, the Wondrous


Shailendra Bhandare

Shailendra Bhandare is Assistant Keeper, South Asian and Far-eastern Numismatics and Paper Money Collections, a Fellow of St Cross College and a member of Faculty of Oriental Studies. He started his career as a Numismatist with a visiting fellowship at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge. He was then appointed as a post-doctoral fellow of the Society for South Asian Studies, and worked as a curator in the British Museum on the coins of Later Mughals and the Indian Princely States. He was appointed as curator in the Ashmolean Museum in 2002.
He was born and brought in Mumbai, India where he received his first degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences. He holds a Master’s degree in History and a Doctorate in Ancient Indian Culture from the University of Mumbai. His research interests span a very wide range of topics on Indian Numismatics and Monetary History, Art and Epigraphy and he has made contribution to several publications and conferences. His recent contributions include:
1. Space for Change: Evaluating the 'Paucity of Metallic Currency' in Medieval India – in ‘Negotiating Cultural Identity: Landscapes in Early Medieval South Asian History’, ed. Himanshu P Ray, Routledge, 2015
2. Shaking the Pagoda Tree: Trees and Foliate Motifs on Indian Coins – in ‘Roots of Wisdom, Branches of Devotion: Plant Life in South Asian Traditions’, eds. Fabrizzio Ferrari and Thomas Dähnhardt, Equinox Publishing, 2016


Registration Fees: Rs. 3000/-



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Queens Mansion, 3rd Floor, G. Talwatkar Marg,
Fort, Mumbai - 400001. India.
Tel: +91-22-2207 2974 / 2207 2975.
Fax: +91-22-2207 2976.
Email: to.jnanapravaha@gmail.com,

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