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Interrogating the dead: re-assessing the cultural identities of the Samma Dynasty (1351-1522) at the necropolis of Makli, Sindh (Pakistan)

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dc.contributor.author Akhtar, Munazzah
dc.date.accessioned 2021-01-12T08:02:55Z
dc.date.copyright 2020 en_US
dc.date.issued 2021-01-12
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1828/12551
dc.description.abstract During the preliminary phase of analytical discourse on South Asia’s medieval history, the scholarship rigidly demarcated the material cultures of the pre-Islamic societies from those of the Muslim communities that were only introduced to the region’s landscapes once the Islamic political rule was established. This was done to simplify the process of examining the regional, religious, ethnic, political, and cultural disparities in the Indian subcontinent’s medieval milieu. Consequently, the exceedingly broad categories of “Muslim” and “Hindu” were conceived to portray the identities of South Asian societies and cultures. However, these categories remain in use even in the current art-historical scholarship that shows a tendency to classify the historical artifacts based on either geographic or sectarian identities. To that end, the sites developed by Muslim rulers are termed as “Islamic/Muslim,” and Hindu temples as “Indian.” Such simplistic classifications, which identify the social and material cultures with singular monolithic identities, overlook the dynamics of intercultural and interfaith interactions between the diverse co-existing communities of South Asian regions that played an active role in shaping those cultures. The Samma dynastic architecture in the vast necropolis of Makli – a UNESCO world heritage site located in the city Thatta (in present-day Sindh province of Pakistan) – presents an opportunity to examine this key methodological issue. Modern scholars classify Samma architecture under the polarities such as “Sindhi,” “Islamic,” and “Indo-Islamic.” The present research challenges these classifications to demonstrate that the overall artistic program of Samma architecture does not reflect any single culture, religion or region. In fact, it evinces a hybridization of style and character, and hence, transcends the standard categorization of architectural artifacts from South Asia. Therefore, by actively engaging with the architecture, decoration, and epigraphy, this study allows for the formulation of important conclusions on the meanings attached to the Samma dynastic architecture, which was a key medium of presenting their social, religious, political and cultural programs. Additionally, this study demonstrates where Samma monuments fit within the broader categories of artistic productions from South Asia as well as the wider Islamic world. Hence, where this research augments the overly broad and simplified classifications, it also aims to produce a more meaningful analytical framework that moves beyond visual analysis, iconography, and typology. en_US
dc.language English eng
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.rights Available to the World Wide Web en_US
dc.subject Thatta en_US
dc.subject Sindh en_US
dc.subject Necropolis of Makli en_US
dc.subject Timurid en_US
dc.subject Māru-Gurjara en_US
dc.subject Islamic en_US
dc.subject Samma dynastic architecture en_US
dc.subject transcultural en_US
dc.subject translation en_US
dc.subject hybridity en_US
dc.subject syncretism en_US
dc.title Interrogating the dead: re-assessing the cultural identities of the Samma Dynasty (1351-1522) at the necropolis of Makli, Sindh (Pakistan) en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.contributor.supervisor Milwright, Marcus
dc.degree.department Department of Art History and Visual Studies en_US
dc.degree.level Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D. en_US
dc.description.scholarlevel Graduate en_US
dc.description.embargo 2021-11-15


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