Ajam Media Collective Podcast
Ajam Podcast #30: Histories of Migration and Exchange between Iran and the Deccan
In this episode, Ali and Lindsey are joined by Dr. Keelan Overton, an independent scholar in Santa Barbara, and Dr. Subah Dayal, Assistant Professor at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU, to talk about [Iran and the Deccan: Persianate Art, Culture, and Talent in Circulation, 1400-1700 (Indiana University Press, 2020)](https://iupress.org/9780253048912/iran-and-the-deccan/).
They highlight the shared and oft overlooked history of Iran and the Deccan plateau of southern India over a three-hundred-year period. During this time, the sea routes between Iran and the Deccan became a major point of exchange for not only trade, but also the circulation of precious objects, poetic styles, as well as kings, saints, artisans, and statesmen.
The volume paints a picture of a complex world wherein fashions and styles travel across myriad languages and social contexts. It shows how the Sultanates of the Deccan were embedded in, an integral part of, and inheritors to the norms of the Timurid period that are usually associated with the Ottomans, Safavids, and the Mughals. The result was "the creation of a robust transregional Persianate network linking such distant cities as Bidar and Shiraz, Bijapur and Isfahan, and Golconda and Mashhad."
While clear hierarchies developed that privileged the Persian language and its customs, there was also a creative adaptation of Persianate archetypes into Deccani vernaculars. For example, Subah explains how one 17th-century poet tells the story of contemporary battles and political events in the form of the Shahnameh, but in Deccani language. In architecture, Keelan describes how Deccani basalt rock was used to frame the panels of otherwise archetypical Persianate tilework inscriptions. Together, they reveal the merits of interdisciplinarity and creativity for telling global histories.
*Correction, ~16:16: Keelan mentioned the Timurid envoy Abd al-Razzaq going to Bidar. She meant to say Vijayanagara. After four months in the port of Calicut (the destination of his mission on behalf of Shah Rukh), Abd al-Razzaq headed inland and north to the Vijayanagara court of Deva Raya II (see pages 9-10 of the book).
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