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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Flowers on Floats: The Production, Circulation, and Reception of Early Modern Indian Carpets
by Kamada, Yumiko, Ph.D., New York University, 2011, 1242; 3445297
Abstract (Summary)

This is the first monographic study of carpets produced in the Deccan. It explores the idea that trade is an interactive system in which the demands of merchants and consumers help to shape the design and character of the objects produced. Such an interaction provides a better framework for understanding the carpet production, distribution and use than does the traditional focus on design alone. This study also demonstrates that the movement of carpets across political and cultural boundaries can generate a transformation in both their function and significance.

India is famous for its textile production but the only Indian carpets that have been studied in depth are those made for the Mughal court in north India. The Deccan has been known as a center for carpet production since the 1908 monograph of Henry Harris but it was the 1986 article by Steven Cohen that stimulated carpet historians to study them.

Independently, a group of American and Japanese scholars realized that the well preserved carpets and textiles used to decorate floats in the Kyoto Gion Festival were an important resource for textile history. This research culminated in two important publications. In 1992 Nobuko Kajitani and Kojiro Yoshida published a report on the 297 historic textiles used as float covers. Daniel Walker's 1997 exhibition of Indian carpets, Flowers Underfoot drew attention to the presence of Deccani carpets in Kyoto.

Based on research in Japan, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Austria and the United States, this dissertation analyzes more than eighty carpets and provides technical information about them. This enables us to establish the characteristics of Deccani carpets. Using historical sources, it also reconstructs the broader history of carpet weaving in the Deccan. In the late 17 th century, the English East India Company and the Dutch East India Company (VOC) realized the potential of Deccani carpets as trade goods. The survival of Deccani carpets in Portugal, Austria, and the United Kingdom are testimony to that process. This dissertation also connects the Deccani carpets now in Japan with the trade network established by the VOC and documents their subsequent history in Japanese collections.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Soucek, Priscilla P.
Commitee: Denny, Walter B., Haidar, Navina N., Kopcke, Gunter H., McCredie, James R.
School: New York University
Department: Institute of Fine Arts
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 72/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Art history, Islamic Studies, South Asian Studies, Textile Research
Keywords: Carpet, Dutch East India Company, Gion festival, India, Islamic art, Textile trade
Publication Number: 3445297
ISBN: 978-1-124-54452-6
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