Murals and the written word in Early Modern Southeast India

Murals and the written word in Early Modern Southeast India

  • 04 Feb
    11 Feb

    Indian Aesthetics

    Anna Lise Seastrand

Murals and the written word in Early Modern Southeast India

Image: Purushottama, SriVaikuntham, Tamil Nadu

Murals produced in southeastern India after the 16th century are distinguished by the profusion of text, both enframing the painted images and intruding into the space of imagistic representation.  Never before had writing played such an important and conspicuous role in murals that adorn both palaces and temples. And not only does text appear in painting, but images of writing, reading, recitation, teaching, manuscripts and even books proliferate. 

This pair of talks explores the question of why text and writing became inextricably joined to painting in the sixteenth through 18th centuries in the Tamil region. This exploration leads us to ask not only about writerly endeavors, such as the production of texts, and practices of reading that dominated the period. We also explore how familiarity with the written word influences the major genres of graphic representation: portraiture, narrative, and topographic images. 

Duration -

February 4, 11, 2022

Timing: 7:00 - 8:30 PM IST


Rs. 1,000 (For student discounts registrations kindly email

Anna Lise Seastrand

Anna Lise Seastrand

Anna Lise Seastrand is Assistant Professor in Art History at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She earned her PhD from Columbia University in 2013, after which she joined the Society of Fellows at the University of Chicago. Her research is focused on the art and architecture of southeastern India, and pursues ideas related to embodiment and the sensorium, the relationship between text and image, and conceptions of landscape. She has been part of a number of collaborative and interdisciplinary projects, including Interwoven: Sonic and Visual Histories of the Indian Ocean World, which is based on a series of workshops hosted in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka on the digitization of sonic and visual archives; The Past for Sale: Protecting India’s Cultural Heritage, for which she co-hosted a seminar and lectures on looting in South Asia, and New Cultural Histories of South India, a series of symposia and planned publications. She is also part of an interdisciplinary study of a south Indian sacred center, Temples of the Heart: Making a Home for Vishnu in Tirukkurungudi, supported by the Davis Humanities Institute, the Indian Culture and Heritage Trust, and the American Academy of Religion.