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Humayun Padshah and Iran: Safavid Present and Mythical Past
The lecture introduces Professor Ebba Koch's new book The Planetary King: Humayun Padshah: Inventor and Visionary on the Mughal Throne which attempts to form a more holistic picture of the second Mughal padshah than the decontextualized perspectives offered so far. It sheds light on the career of Humayun (1508–1556) and his many contributions to architecture, art, science, and literature besides his role in laying the foundation for a Mughal ruling ideology. He was the widest travelled Mughal emperor, his journeys and campaigns took him from his birthplace Kabul to India, during his exile to Iran, and again to Kabul from where he reconquered Delhi. In Iran he left an inscription at Turbat-i Shaikh Jam, stopped at Mashhad and Sultanniya, where he bemoaned his fate in the great mausoleum of Öljaitü, hunted with Shah Tahmasp near Takht-i Sulaiman, and visited Tabriz and Ardabil where he made donations to the tombs of Shaikh Safi al-Din and Shah Ismai`l. But even before Humayun visited Iran he had reached far back into its mythical past to create in Hindustan a theatre of kingship in the style of the Shahnama kings.

Oct 19, 2022 05:00 PM in London

Humayun and Shah Tahmasp hunting near Takht-i Sulaiman in 1544, Akbarnama 1602-03, BL Or 12988, f. 103a. © British Library.
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Speakers

Ebba Koch
Professor @University of Vienna
Ebba Koch taught at the universities of Vienna, Oxford and Harvard; she specialises in the architecture, art and culture of the Great Mughals of South Asia and their artistic connections to Central Asia, Iran and Europe. Her publications include Mughal Art and Imperial Ideology (Oxford 2001) and The Complete Taj Mahal and the Riverfront Gardens of Agra (Thames& Hudson 2006). Presently she is working with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture on a Museum for Humayun’s Tomb at Delhi, and authored an accompanying book The Planetary King: Humayun Padshah: Inventor and Visionary on the Mughal Throne (Mapin 2022).