Rachel Parikh

Postdoctoral Fellow in Islamic Arts and Material Culture

Ph.D. History of Art, University of Cambridge
M.Phil. History of Art, University of Cambridge
B.A. History of Art, University of Illinois at Chicago

I specialize in the influence Persia had on shaping the intellectual, material, and artistic cultures of Islamic empires in South Asia, particularly the Mughals and Deccan Sultanates. I am fascinated by how Persian traditions were interpreted, appropriated, and adapted at these centers, and how they were also combined with indigenous practices. My doctoral dissertation focused on an unexamined, seventeenth century, Deccan copy of a sixteenth century Persian manuscript, the Falnama, or ‘Book of Omens’. The volume was used to cast horoscopes and predict the future through images based on Islamic legend, literature, and religious narratives. Although considered a copy, the Deccan volume, known as the Khalili Falnama, contains images and text that are almost completely distinct to it. Thus, my research involved interpreting the images and iconography through interdisciplinary approaches as well as examining a vast array of both Islamic and Hindu materials, such as ceramics, textiles, metalwork, and other manuscripts. In addition to preparing my dissertation for publication, I am co-editing a volume on occultism and visual culture and writing an article on Islamic weapons as talismans. I am also greatly interested in Hindu art; I am working on an article on the role of Hindu gods in apotropaic art.

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