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A Timurid Embassy from Herat to Beijing, 1419-22, Recorded by Artist Ghiyath al-Din Naqqash: Timurid Art after China

Jun 21, 2014

Location: Shangri La

Presenter: Dr. David Roxburgh, Scholar-in-Residence

The lecture examines an embassy that left Herat, Afghanistan, in December 1419, and traveled through Central Asia and China to Beijing with the return journey concluding in August 1422. It was one of several exchanges orchestrated between Timurid ruler Shahrukh (r. 1409-47) and Ming dynasty emperor Yongle (r.1402-24). Ghiyath al-Din, an artist sent by Shahrukh's bibliophile son Baysunghur, recorded the details of the journey describing the movement of the embassy through changing landscapes and Chinese cities, art, architecture, and the ceremonial life of the Ming imperial palace. Futhermore, the lecture examines the journal as a source, the journey it narrates and considers the consequences of increased access to Chinese art for Timurid art in the arts of the book and portable objects throughout the 1420s.

Dr. David Roxburgh is Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Islamic Art History at Harvard University. He received an M.A. with Honors in Fine Art from Edinburgh College of Art and completed his doctoral thesis at the University of Pennsylvania as a fellow at the Smithsonian Institution and Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art in 1996. His books include Prefacing the Image: The Writing of Art History in Sixteenth-Century Iran (Leiden, 2001) and The Persian Album, 1400-1600: From Dispersal to Collection (New Haven, 2005). He has also worked as a curator on the exhibitions Turks: A Journey of A Thousand Years (London, Royal Academy of Art, 2005) and Traces of the Calligrapher: Islamic Calligraphy in Practice, c. 1600-1900M (Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, 2007).

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