Universität Bonn

Abteilung für Asiatische und Islamische Kunstgeschichte

Conference Abstracts

 Partha Mitter

The Role of History and Memory in Modernity

The explosion of information technology, the shrinking of long-distance travel, and ‘virtual’ conversations across the world – all of which we associate with global modernity – give the impression that we have suddenly woken up to our sense of Self in the twenty-first century. Challenging this commonplace, this timely and important conference explores the dialogic relationship between past and present, and between history and memory, through collective representations of identity in Asian art. My paper goes beyond art to open up a general debate on modernity, identity and history. It singles out certain keywords used in the conference, notably, golden age, tradition, modernity, nation and patrimony, in order to tease out the theoretical underpinnings to these important problems. Even though questions of identity, and the relationship between the Self and the Other, are as old as human history, the conference will be concerned with arguably the central question: to what extent can we draw out similarities and differences between the past and the present? But in order to do this, we need to examine modern identity as a global phenomenon with deeply contested issues of national history and cultural memory.


Susan L. Huntington

Buddhist Art Through a Modern Lens: A Case of a Mistaken Scholarly Trajectory

From the 18th through the early 20th century, British and other European scholars were deeply involved with attempting to understand India’s ancient cultures.  Intensive study of Sanskrit led to the creation of dictionaries that are still the gold standard today and huge translation projects were undertaken by the intellectual giants of the day. 

In addition to textual studies, archaeologists, numismatists, and epigraphers attempted to understand India’s ancient culture through its artistic and other material remains.  Among the individuals who greatly contributed to the knowledge about early Buddhist art in particular were Sir Alexander Cunningham, who founded the Archaeological Survey of India and served as its first Director-General; Sir John Marshall, a later Director-General who excavated some of the most important Buddhist sites of India; and Heinrich Luders, whose translations of Indic inscriptions still serve as models today.  These individuals worked close to their original sources, and their interpretations of early Buddhist art were, I suggest, very much on target.  But suddenly, it seems to me, around the turn of the 20th century something went badly awry in the study of early Buddhist art as Alfred Foucher hypothesized about why archaeologists had not found Buddha images in their excavations of early Buddhist sites.  In particular, what has come to be called the “aniconic theory” was born, wherein it was suggested that there had been an early reluctance—perhaps even a prohibition—that prevented the early artists to create representations of the Buddha.  This theory not only quickly took root but it has continued to underpin both art historical and Buddhological studies of these early materials.

In keeping with the conference theme, which explores the confrontation with the ‘other’, I propose to look at how, beginning with Foucher, modern Western authors created categories and hierarchies of art whereby the Indic art was judged to be inferior to what were held to be the higher aesthetic and communicative standards of the European tradition.  As will be explained, the anionic theory encodes the expectation that the Indian artists were inferior to ancient Western artists, and were themselves incapable of conceptualizing the idea of a Buddha image. My presentation, first, re-examines these views, second, attempts to contextualize them within the intellectual climate of the day, and, third, tries to set the study of early Buddhist art back on a more accurate trajectory.

John C. Huntington

Bactro-Gandharan Art Beyond its Homeland: Transitioning to The whole of North and Central Asia

Depending, as an art historian must, on the survival of non-degradable materials and the chance survival of what are normally ephemera, the study of any ancient period must look at that which survives rather than the whole picture. With their massive amount of still extant stone and stucco sculpture, both Gandhara and, to a lesser degree, Bactria, provide apparent roots and sub themes for several of the major Buddhist artistic traditions of Central and East Asia.

Regrettably, much of this rich source of material has been the subject of studies by either persons of limited Buddhological awareness, or basically ignored by most text scholars who may have the Buddhological awareness but assert that one can know nothing with out inscriptions. Sadly both methodologies need a bit of work.

In the study of both stylistic coherence and iconological symbology of works of Bactro-Gandharan art dating from the 1st through the 7th century CE, Buddhist art from sites along the Tarim Basin and from the Mogao caves near Dunhuang, at eastern terminus of the Silk Road, demonstrate a major degree of influence from the B-G region. Indeed,  highly specific examples emerge that suggest continued contact and influence.

While the source of influence transitions to Kashmir in the late 5th century because of the Hunic invasions, the brasses and the stone sculpture of sites such as Bijbehar demonstrate a deep and perhaps ancient connection to its western neighbor. This school also provides profound influence on the Eastern regions of Asia. A brief analysis of the following connections will be considered.

1) Early Bronzes of style: Fuji Yurinkan, Fogg others

2) Chinese “U” shaped robes related Kashmir

3) Gandhara Via Kashmir to Beiwei caves

4) Sasanian Crowns, Sharpur I, Foucher Bodhisattva, etc., Qizil and DH

5) The DH cave 17  drawings of famous images

6) Subhakara Simha’s Gobushinkan

Ciro Lo Muzio (University of Rome La Sapienza)

The Legacy of Gandhara in Central Asian Painting

Being a major commercial, cultural and religious crossroads between Iran, South Asia, the Eurasian steppes and the Far East, pre-Islamic Central Asia is a privileged field of investigation for scholars interested in the transmission of artistic traditions. The huge territory of Western and Eastern Turkestan (resp. the area of the former Soviet Central Asian Republics and nowadays Xinjiang, in China) is an inexhaustible source of archaeological evidence highlighting the transplantation of single figurative or ornamental items as well as of whole sets of iconographic models of different origins.

The rich sculptural tradition flourished in Gandhara (North-Western Pakistan and South-Eastern Afghanistan) during the first centuries of the current era, i.e. the Kushan epoch, has long since been recognised as a cornerstone in the spread of the Buddhist iconographic and stylistic repertoire in Central Asia and further East. On the other hand, the idea that the murals unearthed in several Central Asian Buddhist sites may compensate for the loss of the Gandharan painting of the Kushan period is a most stimulating and long debated issue. On this occasion a brief overview of this subject will be presented, along with some remarks and suggestions that may help reconsider it in an updated perspective.

Petra Rösch (Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Köln)

Illusionary Narratives: The Deconstruction of the Tang Dynasty as the “Golden Age” of Chan Buddhism in China.

With respect to the Chinese school of Chan Buddhism, the Tang Dynasty (618-907) was glorified as the apex and “Golden Age” of this tradition, while scholarship for long was blinded for the achievements of the following Song Dynasty (960-1269). Chan Buddhism during this dynasty was considered to be in a state of “Decline” only. However these categories have been revealed as creations by contemporary or later authors, notions or narratives, which recently were deconstructed by present-day scholars like John McRae, Griffith Foulk or Morton Schlüter.

Therefore in this paper, I would like to argue, that notions of “Golden Age” or “Decline” often have been constructed in various discourses at different times and must be considered adequately. As could be shown in recent research mostly on literary sources, possibilities of constructing such categories must be taken into consideration. The Tang Dynasty or Chan Buddhist masters of that time were for example elevated and glorified by the later Chan Buddhist authors of the Song Dynasty to enhance their own, later status in the same school-lineage. Early 20th century scholarship was informed by certain subjective narratives as well: the interest of the 20th century Western Chan Buddhist scholars in the writings and art of the Tang Dynasty was inspired by the writings of early Japanese Buddhist scholars.

The paper will firstly present the above discussions and secondly will transmit this approach into the field of visual culture. It will ask, if similar constructions or narratives do exist for Tang Dynasty Buddhist art over Song Dynasty Buddhist art and if so, what might have been the reasons for these? Which views shaped these concepts and how did they change over time? What is our present position in these ongoing discourses? Taking the Chan Buddhist discussion as basis, the paper will present case-studies of visual material offering possible answers to the above questions.

William A. Southworth (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

Iconoclasm and Temple Transformation at Angkor from the 13th to 15th Centuries

The great age of temple building at Angkor in Cambodia is normally dated between the 9th and early 13th centuries, and the architectural history of the site is similarly presented as a regular succession of temple designs and art styles. In reality, however, many of the most important temple structures and compounds were gradually transformed over time with later alterations and additions relating to their continued use and religious function. 

During the later 13th and 14th centuries however, there is also abundant evidence for religious conflict and for dramatic changes in cult affiliation. The best-known examples of such a transformation of cult can be found at the temples of the Bayon, Preah Khan and Ta Prohm at Angkor. Although originally constructed as Buddhist temples in the late 12th to early 13thcenturies, almost all images of the Buddha at these sites were later erased or re-cut as Śiva linga or as Hindu ascetics. At the same time, Buddhist statuary appears to have been deliberately destroyed and sometimes ritually buried, as in the case of a major find at Banteay Kdei. Despite being recognized since the early twentieth century, the religious, political or social reasons behind this iconoclastic programme remain uncertain and can only be roughly dated to the later 13th or 14th century.

Perhaps less appreciated is the evidence for a Buddhist reclamation of earlier Hindu temples during the 14th to 15th centuries. The most obvious example is the temple of Angkor Wat itself, which was almost certainly built as a shrine to the Hindu god Vishnu, but transformed into a Buddhist temple by the addition of four monumental statues of the Buddha in the central sanctuary. Similarly, the western galleries of the Baphuon were remodeled into a giant figure of the reclining Buddha. There is also a strong possibility that many important Hindu shrines were deliberately deconstructed at this time. It is remarkable that so little has survived of the central towers of the Baphuon, Bakheng or Phimeanakas, while before its reconstruction in the 1950’s, the central shrine of the Bakong consisted only of a neat pile of stones near the base of the stepped massif. The comparative rarity of free-standing Śivalinga at Angkor may also be a sign of deliberate removal.

Despite continued uncertainty regarding these later periods of Angkor’s history, it is clear that much of the site as we now know it is a result of these later religious transformations and upheavals. This paper will attempt to review the evidence and to summarize research on this important but neglected period.

Tiziana Lorenzetti (University of Rome La Sapienza)

Antagonism Against the Jains as Reflected in Art: Political and social dimension

From the 10th century onwards, substantial artistic evidence can be found that would seem to testify that, by then, sectarian antagonism had already entered the fabric of the south Indian social order. 

In this paper I shall provide unpublished artistic documentation on such phenomenon, especially the antagonism towards the Jains, not only from the Hindus, but also from the Virashaivas, whose expansion was one of the  factors in the definitive decline of Jain power in Karnataka .  

The artistic evidence shown highlights a scarcely known erstwhile trend: the establishment of a new visual code according to which the Jains and Buddhists were dehumanized as asuras against whom the Hindu gods always fought. Indeed, alongside the persecutions, the Hindu–brahminic tradition created a wide mythology and stereotypes to demonise their religious enemies.

Mallica Kumbera Landrus (Princeton University)

Trans-Cultural Temples: Identity and Practice in Goa

In Goa the shifting class, caste, cultural boundaries, political and cultural movements, gave shape to perhaps the most distinct space in India’s architectural history. Visual culture shaped a European authority and an indigenous population whose ideas and values were embodied by architecture in Goa. One hundred and fifteen churches were built under the Portuguese administration in Goa between 1510 and 1961. This number does not include the vast number of chapels or crosses that also dot the Goan landscape. Although no records regarding early reception of European style churches in Goa have thus far been uncovered, the unique style of temples in the area suggests a trans-cultural identity. My paper will explore European influences that were inducted into Hindu temple architecture from the late seventeenth century onwards: first on the outskirts of Portuguese controlled Goa, and later in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries within Portuguese borders. The Goan temples use European and in some cases Islamic architectural elements to create hybrid structures that express regional identity, social politics, and divergent theologies of the sacred. The Hindu decision to employ these Western architectural elements in an Indian fashion is not unique to Goa, however in Goa we find the first of such trans-cultural Hindu temples in the colonial period. Emptied of their former western meaning, the features are used to fashion a new style in temple building.

Sarah Shaw (The University of Oxford)

Art and Narrative in Changing Conditions: Southern Buddhist temple art as an accommodation of the new and diverse

From the inception of the tradition, Buddhist monastic and lay followers saw adaptation to travel, changed circumstances and the adjustment to different cultural environments as an essential component both of doctrine and practice. A tradition that was formulated with the need to integrate with pre-existing religious communities also derived many early practitioners from mercantile classes located in urban trade centres, and so early adjustments to vinaya (monastic code) and lay practice accommodated the need for the 

tradition to adapt, travel and incorporate an element of flexibility into code and principle. Indian ritual injunctions that eschewed potentially polluting features such as sea travel and social contact with lower castes and practitioners within other traditions were rejected, for both the monastic orders and the laity.

Perhaps as a consequence of practical and doctrinal elements that can be traced to the outset of the tradition, and more immediately as a result of increased contact with other cultures that arose from the strengthening of European and Arab maritime trade and political networks in the eighteenth century, realist depictions of figures and artefacts from other cultures during this period become an important and central aspect of Buddhist temple art, particularly in the coastal regions of Southeast Asia. From the eighteenth-century, realist depictions of Western sailors, travellers, clippers and tall-boats are frequently included in temple mural and sculpture, particularly in the illustration of early Buddhist narratives such as the Jātakas. These tales of the Bodhisatta's path to develop the perfections have traditionally been viewed as historical and regional extensions of the Buddha's kammic biography and, by including local gods, goddesses and localities, have also acted as a means of validating the Buddhist tradition in regions not described in the Buddha's final life. This paper examines the incidence of  'farangs' and their boats in Thai and Cambodian temple Jātaka art, arguing that within the framework of Buddhist principle such 'anachronisms' were a way not only of including present-day observation into artistic expression, but also of 'placing' the fashions, artefacts and peoples of alien cultures within the context of early Buddhist discourse, thus integrating new and potentially hostile elements into a larger Buddhist narrative.

To conclude, the paper explores the inclusion of local and contemporary figures in depictions of recent Southern Buddhist temple mural art of the Thai diaspora in Britain (Buddhapadipa Temple, Wimbledon, UK), arguing that this feature constitutes a renewed expression of the wish to accommodate changing conditions and apparently alien elements through artistic depictions of traditional narrative and cosmology.

Julia A. B. Hegewald (The University of Bonn)

Golden Age or Kali-Yuga?                                                                 The Changing Fortunes of Jaina Art and Identity in Karnataka

The southern Indian State of Karnataka is famous for its splendid Jaina temple architecture. Art-historical studies outline the grandeur of an artistic tradition commencing in the seventh century CE with the early Cāḷukyas and their successors, leading via the Western Gaṅgās to the golden age of Hoysaḷa and Kadamba art throughout the region. However, besides the centre of Vijayanagara, very little has been written about later Jaina remains in the region, dating from the fourteenth and later centuries.

From the middle of the twelfth century, Jainism - once the leading cultural and political force in the area - started to be threatened by Vīra-Śaivism and in the northern Deccan region by Islam. Many Jaina temple structures were destroyed, or absorbed and transformed by incoming religions and their converts. While in some instances clear signs of the former Jaina denomination of temples have been preserved, in others, the adaptation and conversion is less obvious. Whereas at the beginning, the expression of superiority and victory felt by new communities played an important role, later the creation or suggestion of stylistic continuity appears to have gained in significance.

How did the Jainas react to this? Their local sacred geographic understanding is marked by a painful memory of places taken by force, which can still trigger strong emotions. In some places, however, building activities were resumed after an interruption, continuing previous styles. In others, an apparent peaceful coexistence between Jainas and other religious groups can be observed. Many Jaina structures from the fourteenth and later centuries in south India indicate a certain artistic interaction with the ‘other,’ leading to a strengthening of aniconic tendencies and the absorption of new artistic features.

Despite a general lack of awareness of the evolution of later Jaina temple architecture amongst scholars in the field, there is an unbroken continuity in the region, throughout India and in the Jaina diaspora up to the present day. This expresses the powerful endurance and ability of communities to adapt to changed circumstances and to redefine themselves anew, which in many ways is equally - if not more - admirable than art produced during times of plenty and peace.

Jennifer Howes  (The British Library)

Indian Company Painting: 1780 to 1820

During India’s Colonial Period, British East India Company officials commissioned Indian artists to paint pictures, which are today known as ‘Company Paintings’. This paper will examine a selection of Company Paintings in the British Library’s collections. Moving in chronological order, I’ll begin by looking at examples collected in North India by Colonel Antoine Polier (1780s) and Lt-Col. James Chicheley Hyde (1790s), and in Southern India by the British Surgeon, David Simpson (1780s). I’ll then look at Company Paintings produced in the early Nineteenth Century, some of which was connected with survey work, such as Colin Mackenzie’s Topographical Survey of Mysore (1800-1809) and Francis Buchanan Hamilton’s Statistical Survey of Bengal and Bihar (1807-1814). I’ll then ask how Company Painting reflects the British pursuit of knowledge in South Asia, and how the focus of these colonial investigations changed during the 40 years under investigation. 

Eva-Maria Troelenberg (FU Berlin/Florenz)

The „Golden Age“ and the Secession: Approaches to Alterity in early 20th Century World Art

The canon of art history started to open up more and more for non-European artefacts during the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, this process was not a homogenous and linear success story of the art of the “other”: The reception of unfamiliar objects within the framework of European art and art history showed rather varied qualities and criteria, depending on the recipient’s standpoints. One current, which embraced e.g. the canonization of Islamic Arts, was at its core conservative and assimilative, working with established keywords such as the “Masterpiece” or old-fashioned time-frames such as the “Golden Age”.

On the other hand, secessionist movements both in scholarship and art embraced the very “alterity” of foreign objects, emphasizing their new qualities that went beyond established canons and served as backdrops for more avantgardist visions of art and life.

My paper seeks to consider such different qualities of reception as they manifested themselves in exhibitions and publications during the first third of the 20th century.

Parul Dave-Mukherji (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi)

Who is afraid of Utopia? Contemporary Indian Artists and Their Retakes on “Golden” age  

In contemporary Indian art, utopia emerges as one of the most contested terrains. If under the national modern, golden past was often invoked via the mythic imaginary, contemporary artists return to it in an ironic mode that often narrows the gap between utopia and dystopia. When Sheela Gowda revisits Mahabharata creating a minimalist allegory in Draupadi, it marks itself different from a more joyous celebration of the epics in M F Hussain’s Sitaand Lakshmi. However, in more recent art practice, attention shifts from epic narrative to a more interactive space of community and the possibility of imagining a perfect social/political order. From a complete rejection of utopia (Raqs Media Collective) to its strategic embrace (Gigi Scaria), I will offer a brief overview of some contemporary artists to foreground deep ambivalence and disenchantment towards the idea of a golden past.

Nalini Balbir (University of Paris-3 Sorbonne-Nouvelle)

Old Texts, New Images: Illustrating the Śvetāmbara Jain Āgamas today

In the manuscript transmission the only two texts of the Śvetāmbara Jain Āgamas which are often illustrated lavishly with attractive paintings are the Uttarādhyayanasūtra and the Kalpasūtra. In the latter case, the performative role of the text in association with the festival of Paryushan from medieval times onward may be adduced as an explanation. The Uttarādhyayanasūtra has a number of stories and counts among the fundamental sources for learning of doctrine and practice. But these are not sufficient reasons: there are several other narrative Āgamas, the manuscripts of which are not illustrated. Indeed, manuscripts of texts other than the Uttarādhyayanasūtra and the Kalpasūtra are generally devoid of paintings. If not, they have at the most one as an opening and/or one as a closure: a Jina in meditation, Indrabhūti Gautama teaching or the fourfold community listening to a sermon. Such paintings function more as kinds of maṅgalas or as embodiments of the teaching through those who have transmitted it.

Undertakings which contrast with this prevalent trend therefore require attention. In this paper I will focus on the “Illustrated garland of Āgamas” (Sacitra Āgamamālā; Delhi, Padma Prakashan, years 2000), an innovative initiative undertaken at the initiative of Shri Amar Muni, a Jain monk affiliated to the Shri Vardhaman Sthanakvasi Jain Shraman Sangh. Illustrations are one among several pedagogical devices underlining the promoter’s desire to aim at a wider diffusion of the Āgamas, such as the division of the text into small sections, including the original Prakrit, a Hindi translation and a English translation or an English analytical table of contents and a glossary. These paintings seem to be a subject of pride for the promoters of this edition, as they are unique. Yet no information is supplied about the artists and the principles of their activity.

The illustration component is carried out systematically, so that each one of the volumes has several paintings, whatever the contents of the text (narrative but also non-narrative). The texts dealing with cosmology are the only ones which can rely upon a pictorial tradition of the past: even if the manuscripts of the canonical texts on cosmology (e.g., Jambūdvīpaprajñapti) are not illustrated, inspiration can be drawn from illustrated manuscripts of the Kṣetrasamāsas and the Saṃgrahaṇīsūtras which partly deal with similar topics. For the remaining works, there is no real source: the illustrators have had to find their own methods and devices. The style and colours of the paintings, which always occupy a full page, are evocative of the style found in Indian comics – whether Jain or not. The Sthānakvāsī sectarian touch is obvious and insisting in the depiction of Jain monks and of their monastic equipment, or in the representation of the Jinas. We will try to describe the codes of these paintings and to understand how they function as innovative devices which might contribute to diminish disinterest in old texts that have become rather inaccessible for most average Jains, not to speak of non-Jains.

Christoph Emmrich (University of Toronto)

Loss, Damage, Repair and Prevention in the Historiography of Newar Religious Artefacts

This paper will try to establish how Nepalese narratives of decline and the late 20th/early 21st century experience of political and economic hardship by groups and individuals shape each other and how these processes are made visible by the way Newars deal with religious artefacts. It will begin by discussing practices and technologies surrounding the temple treasure of particular Newar shrines and the gates, chains, locks and keys, cast-iron fences and practices of inventorization which through the evocation of danger and safety help produce value. This cannot be done without further looking at the dislocation, theft and pillage of artistic objects, the connections between the invention of heritage, tourism, visual reproduction, the art market, organized crime and the selling out of the local shrine. Comparing traditional narratives concerned with the “kidnapping” of the deity vs. those bemoaning the loss of a local and national patrimony the paper will engage with the work of Lain Singh Bangdel and Jürgen Schick through some spectacular “real crime” cases. As discourses of loss, damage, repair and prevention inform the discussion and planning in Nepalese urbanism and the reorganization of sacred complexes, the paper will touch upon the role the Guthi Sansthan, the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust and the UNESCO have had in Bhaktapur, Kirtipur and Svayambhu as sites of selection, destruction and emergence following questions of what is considered a loss, which changes are termed damage, what historical models do repair efforts look back to and which are the perceived and projected dangers that supposedly call for preventive political action.

The paper will then deal with two instances of intervention, both recuperative and preventive, which present an older and culturally more layered codification: the scribal restoration of a manuscript and the architectural development of a processional chariot. In the first case the wear and tear of artefacts are read as a sign of dissolution within a larger Buddhist cosmological frame of the decline of the dharma and their renovation is articulated as the opportunity for merit-making which appears more urgent the darker the times.

Finally, the paper will touch upon the Matsyendranātha chronicles in which the accidents in the running of a procession lead to recurrent efforts in compensating for the inadequacies in virtuously handling the ritual procedures resulting in the development and differentiation of the chariot’s artistic and technological shape aimed at avoiding future breakdowns and the chronicling of those incremental measures. In this, as in all the cases discussed in this paper, the artefact’s current body emerges as the record of its recurrent and habitual endangerment.

Regina Höfer (The University of Bonn)

‘Buddha@hotmail’ - Contemporary Tibetan Art goes Global  

Contemporary Tibetan art holds a very special position and is a very recent phenomenon. The circumstances and preconditions for the genesis of Tibetan modernism are quite unique. Due to the conservatism of its civilization similar to the late Middle Ages in the West and its wellnigh total isolation from any modern international influences, traditional Tibetan art could survive nearly intact until the second half of the 20th century. When Tibet joined the PRC and was finally opened up, it was suddenly faced with advances of Western modernities often hostile to tradition, and became influenced, for example, by Chinese socialist realism, which in itself already encompasses concepts of Western modernity. In addition, the Tibetan situation is somewhat uniquely merged between the global players of India and China and Western perception. It is this context which establishes Tibetan contemporary art as a precedent of current discourses on globalised world art. The paper will locate contemporary Tibetan art production within these discourses by analysing its modern and international visual language. As will be shown, to a large extent this language transforms elements of traditional Tibetan culture.   

Daniel Redlinger (IOA, The University of Bonn)

Building for the brothers? Indo-Islamic architectural citations in the recent architecture of South Arabia

At first sight it seems that most of the prestigious contemporary non-religious architecture in den United Arabic Emirates follows the models and guidelines of the International Modern Architecture. For secular buildings with touristic relevance such as hotels and shopping malls or for buildings with a relevance to foreign affairs, however, a recourse on vernacular, traditional architectures of the UAE can be observed. Representative religious architecture, on the other hand, is frequently designed using historical models from the entire Islamic World like that of al-Andalus, the Mamluks of Egypt, the Fatimids, the Ottomans as well as  the Sultans of Delhi and the Mughals of India. Using the Shaykh Sayed mosque in Abu Dhabi, the new friday mosque of the ruler and the Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai, which visualizes the life and travel of the famous Maghrebinian traveller, as examples, the paper shows how architecture is used as a medium of expression by the ruling dynasties for their cultural and political programme. The paper will focus on the question of function and meaning of the frequent use of Indo-Islamic architectural citations in contemporary prestigious public building projects in the UAE. Considering the large numbers of Indian guest workers it will be discussed whether this reference to Indian prototypes serves to create a familiar space for these immigrants from the Indian Subcontinent. In this context the paper will also touch on the question of these architectural citations as means to define a sense of identity and on the selection processes involved in the creation of such buildings.

The analysis of Indo-Islamic elements in the contemporary architecture in the UAE provides ample information on the sources architects used in order to create a space equally familiar and specific to locals and foreigners. Being an essential source for our understanding of the intentions related to this architecture, the paper includes an analysis of official - mostly  governmental - sources which deal with the description and presentation of the buildings discussed in this paper. It will be shown how a system of pan-Islamic architectural quotation serves as a means of constructing the identity of an Arab-Islamic national state within a global community.

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