“The Moslems want to see everything from close by”: seeing in pre-modern Eurasia

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Yusen Yu (University of Oxford)

In 1626 , to gift their Mughal host in India, Francisco Pelsaert, an agent for the Dutch East India Company,  sent the following request to his superiors in Europe: “Send us two or three good battle pictures, painted by an artist with a pleasing style, for the Moslems (Muslims) want to see everything from close by.” My talk starts with a discussion of the (in)validity of Pelsaertʼs observation and bring together a range of case studies to examine the relationship between objects and its beholders in Muslim societies in pre-modern Eurasia. It will also tentatively explore the link of the viewing habitus with the science of optics.


The following seminar will be held online with Zoom. To receive the link and joining details please email hsmt@history.ox.ac.uk by 12-noon the Friday before. https://www.hsmt.ox.ac.uk/event/moslems-want-see-everything-close


The History of Science, Medicine and Technology Seminar is convened by Erica Charters (Wolfson College), Rob Iliffe Linacre College), Catherine Jackson (Harris Manchester College), Rob Bailey (University of Oxford) and John Lidwell Durnin (Linacre College)