Personal Possessions of the Mughal Emperors and the Decorative Arts in Mughal India in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries – Parts 3-5

  • Begins: Thursday 10 September 2020
    Until: Thursday 24 September 2020
  • Lecturer: Dr Ursula Weekes

Lectures 1 and 2 were delivered in March prior to ‘lock-down’. The remaining three lectures of this course will be delivered online via Zoom and are now open to all members as a block of three sessions.

Please note that you will need to be familiar with Zoom in order to participate – we do not have the capacity to provide any back-up or advice on the use of Zoom. We recommend that you log on to Zoom 15 minutes before the start time of the event even if you are familiar with the app since the process can take some time if a lot of participants are logging on at the same time. You will receive an email the day before the lecture with details of how to join the event. If you do not receive it please check your spam/junk mail folder.


The Imperial Mughal court produced a wide range of valuable artefacts for use in their daily life. As a culture which emerged from Timurid traditions of itinerant court life, they placed enormous value on the kinds of objects that were portable. This course offers a detailed examination of these elite objects made at the Mughal court with examples chosen, where possible, from objects on view in London collections. We shall examine the materials, techniques and aesthetic qualities of these deluxe objects and consider their functions, purposes and audiences in the context of Mughal Indian court culture.

  1. Dress and Textiles. The object this week is the embroidered Mughal hunting coat c.1620 in the V&A. We shall consider other textiles and use manuscript illustrations to consider the significance of dress and cloth at the imperial Mughal court and as a commodity within the Empire.
  2. Jewellery and Weapons. As well as the jewelled dagger of Shah Jahan in the Wallace Collection, the sword of Dara Shikoh in the British Museum, and the large ruby spinels in the V&A, we shall consider the significance of gemstones as dynastic gifts and their representation in Mughal paintings and think about the place of personal arms in Mughal court culture.
  3. Manuscripts. The Mughal Emperors valued the book arts and this week we shall consider some of the most significant manuscripts made for the royal family which are on display in London collections, including the Hamzanama and Akbarnama made for the Emperor Akbar and the Dara Shikoh Album made as a marriage gift for his wife in 1633.


Dr Ursula Weekes is an independent Art Historian. Educated at St John’s College Cambridge and the Courtauld Institute of Art, her first major book was Early Engravers and their Public (Harvey Miller, 2004). Ursula has worked as Supervisor of the Western Art Print Room at the Ashmolean Museum and as Associate Lecturer at The Courtauld and Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. Her more recent work concentrates on the art of Mughal India.

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