Art & Culture Lecture Series18+

The Qalamkari Textiles of Golconda

Searching for histories of production, patronage, and place

VENUE : Online
2 December7:30 PM (IST)
The Qalamkari Textiles of Golconda

From Konkan to Coromandel presents the pioneering work of scholars in various fields of knowledge researching the Northern and Southern Deccan regions of India. The third lecture in the series, The Qalamkari Textiles of Golconda is led by Sylvia Houghteling, assistant professor in the Department of History of Art at Bryn Mawr College.

By 1700, the qalamkari textiles from Machilipatnam, the central port of the sultanate of Golconda, had gained renown across the world, from Delhi to London. Yet, none of the many extant export textiles from this early modern period can be secularly attributed to this site of production. Moreover, because the patrons for qalamkari textiles included a wide range of individuals, from South Asian and British royalty to Japanese merchants and European householders, the styles of the cloths are stunningly diverse, displaying floral, figurative, and geometric ornament that makes it difficult to identify a characteristic repertoire. 

Drawing upon sources ranging from popular poetry to royal inventory records, this talk details the search for evidence of artisans’ lives and modes of textile production; sources of patronage and paths of circulation; and argues for the importance of considering the built and natural environment of coastal Golconda in writing histories of the region’s qalamkari cloths.

From Konkan to Coromandel is organised in collaboration with the Deccan Heritage Foundation, the Centre of Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge, and the Bangalore International Centre.

Speaker Profiles

Sylvia Houghteling

Assistant Professor, Bryn Mawr College

Sylvia Houghteling is an assistant professor in the Department of History of Art at Bryn Mawr College. She received her A.B. from Harvard University and an MPhil in History from the University of Cambridge, where she was the Lionel de Jersey Harvard Scholar at Emmanuel College. After completing her PhD from Yale University in 2015, she held a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Her publications include articles in Ars Orientalis, The Textile Museum Journal, and Religions, and essays for the exhibition catalogues of Cloth that Changed the World (Sarah Fee, ed., Royal Ontario Museum, 2020), and Indian Textiles: 1,000 Years of Art and Design (Rosemary Crill, ed., The Textile Museum, Washington, D.C., 2021). Her first book, The Art of Cloth in Mughal India (recipient of a CAA Millard Meiss Publication Fund Grant) was published by Princeton University Press in the spring of 2022.