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The Portrait and Its Doubles: Nāṣir ʿAlī Sirhindī, Mīrzā Bīdil and the Comparative Semiotics of Portraiture in Late Seventeenth-Century Indo-Persian Literature

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image of Eurasian Studies

This paper focuses on two late 17th century Indo-Persian stories dealing with “living” portraits: a couplet-poem by Nāṣir ʿAlī Sirhindī and a chapter of Mīrzā ‘Abd al-Qādir Bīdil’s autobiography. I investigate these narratives looking at the creative interactions between the codified models for talking about portraits as they are provided in the pre-Mughal Persian literary tradition, and the “newness” of 17th-century Indo-Persian intellectual space, in a cosmopolitan perspective. Accordingly, I explore how the literary dymension reacted to the notion of the visual reproduction in an epoch of social hyper-exposure of portrait painting, and how the conceptual atmosphere regarding visuality interacted with it. In this perspective, my reading will emphasize the expediency of a comparative approach looking, at least preliminarily, at the complex interactions with the Indic textual domain as well as the overlappings with the Latinate one.

Affiliations: 1: University of Venice Ca’ Foscari pello@unive.it

10.1163/24685623-12340025
/content/journals/10.1163/24685623-12340025
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2017-02-26
2018-09-20

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