19 June, 2021

More Than Just Aping

A book that is basic to our understanding of Mughal art and architecture.

More Than Just Aping
Since 1982, the Austrian scholar Ebba Koch has published a series of ground-breaking studies which have made vivid the ceremonies, aspirations and artistic traditions of the Mughal rulers of India -- the Emperor Shah Jahan in particular.  I have purposely not described her as an art historian.  She is, of course, but her writings are far broader in scope than those of most of her professional colleagues.  

Dr. Koch defines and discusses cultural issues of interest to political, social, and economic historians, and the points she makes are articulate and challenging.  They are also fascinating.  And because she concentrates on monuments familiar to any tourist in India -- the Taj Mahal, the forts in Delhi and Agra, and Mughal gardens -- her writings should be basic reading for any intelligent traveller on the subcontinent.

Dr. Koch began her studies of Indian architecture in the 70s, when she moved to India with her diplomat husband.  Because of previous training in art and architectural history, she was immediately drawn to the European...

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