Art History: Coco-de-mer, Mysticism, and Material Histories of the Indian Ocean World
Coco-de-mer, Mysticism, and Material Histories of the Indian Ocean World
Presenter: Peyvand Firouzeh
In the wake of global art histories, objects that travel have come to fascinate us. The coco-de-mer shell, native to the islands of the Indian Ocean, is an object of various mobilities: from miraculous mythological journeys to those driven by natural sea currents, or alternatively, the trans-oceanic trade networks of the early modern world. This talk sketches out several of the shell’s real and allegorical journeys, taking us from Seychelles to Isfahan. In doing so, it tells the story of how the metaphorical meanings of the coconut shell collided with those of the kashkul (beggar’s bowl), an attribute of Islamic mystics. This metamorphosis of coco-de-mer and kashkul, which made buoyant, drifting objects into monumental metaphors, brings allegories of wine and drinking vessels, boats and sea travel, light and mosque imagery into dialogue with monsoon winds and broader material histories of the Indian Ocean.
Dr Peyvand Firouzeh is Lecturer in Islamic Art in the Department of Art History at the University of Sydney. She specializes in sacred architecture, its intersections with poetry and politics, and artist networks in Persianate societies across the Indian Ocean.
This event will be held online via Zoom.
Art History Seminar Programme going forward:
23 September – Melissa Hardie, “The Girlfriend Film”
7 October – Kaitlin Lake, “Sartrean Nothingness and the Aposiopetic Film as Existential Philosophy”
14 October – Louise Marshall, “Coping with the Black Death: Giovanni Del Biondo’s St Sebastian Altarpiece for Florence Cathedral”
21 October – Yvette Hamilton, “Looking through a black hole: Photography at the limits.” & Nina Stromqvist,“Marja Helander, Christian Bumbarra Thompson and the ‘border’ in contemporary art from Scandinavia and Australia.”
4 November – Peter McNeil, “Fashion beyond clothing: the visual culture of Eurasian porcelain, glass and painted mirrors, 1500-1800”
11 November – Bruce Isaacs, “Literary and Cinematic Archi-Textualities: Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue”