Dipanwita Donde


Dr Dipanwita Donde
Research Associate
India Branch Office
Max Weber Stiftung
New Delhi
Email: donde@bilderfahrzeuge.org

Detail of Akbar receiving the Iranian Ambassador,  The first Akbarnama, Mughal c. 1590s, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Research project

Migration of Images, Texts, Ideas and Objects from Timurid Central Asia to Mughal India, 16th– 18thcenturies

The Mughal rule in India was characterised by an extraordinary artistic efflorescence in continuation of the literary and artistic shift that occurred at the court of the Timurid sultan, Husain Bayqara, in Herat in the 15th century. The project will focus on the dense traffic of images that migrated from Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent.  Some of this movement was physical – moving through the vehicle of travelling objects and artists. Some of this movement was virtual, with artists of Hindustan trying to depict an imagined vision of the Timurid/Central Asian heritage that neither they, nor their Timurid-Mughal patrons had seen. The idea is to create a bank of Mughal images and texts within certain groups – portraits, vessels, environments and emotions, under which clusters of images can be classified and analysed from within Turko-Mongol cultural categories and practices. 


Dipa Donde completed her PhD in Visual Studies, specialising in Mughal Art, from SAA JNU in 2017. She received the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (SYLFF) Award (2014-16), the Nehru Memorial Trust fellowship (2015), the Tokyo Foundation SRA fellowship for research abroad (2016) during the period of her PhD research.

She studied Persian (2013 – 2016), especially medieval Persian poetry and literature under Prof. Syed Akhtar Husain (Professor, Dept. of Persian and Central Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University) and participated in several conferences and workshops under the Indian Institute of Persian Studies (IIPS).

In 2016 – 2017, she spent a year as a subject expert and art historical researcher for an exhibition of Indian miniature paintings at Staatliche Kunstammlungen Dresden, Germany. During her research at the SKD, she catalogued and documented the entire collection of Mughal and Deccan paintings in the collection of the Kupferstich-Kabinett.

Dipa has taught Art History in the Dept. of Art History, Delhi College of Art, Delhi University, as Assistant Professor, 2010 – 2013

Dipa has delivered several lectures and participated in seminars and conferences, including Kupferstich-Kabinett, Dresden; York University, Toronto; Indian Institute of Persian Studies, Mumbai, Kolkata and New Delhi; International Conference on Greek Studies, JNU and the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Before joining the Bilderfahrzeuge, Dipa also served as the Manager, Collection, Management and Research at Delhi Art Gallery, an auction and exhibition house dealing in artworks related to Indian Modernism, Aug 2017 – Jan 2019.

Publications (selection)

“Portraiture in Mughal Manuscripts: Remapping the Portrait of Akbar between 1600 and 1700”, Miniature GeschichtenDie Sammlung Indischer Malerei Im Dresdener Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 2017, pp. 38-44. Reprinted in ‘Art History Projects’ in www.criticalcollective.in

“The Portrait Image of Emperor Akbar in the Akbarnama and Beyond”, Voices, Tokyo Foundation, September 2016. http://www.tokyofoundation.org/sylff

“The Body Ideal: Heroic”, The Body in Indian Art and Thought, Ministry of Culture-ICCR, Europalia’ 13, pp. 224-247.

Research and Catalogue Assistant, Trace Retrace: Paintings by Nilima Sheikh, Tulika Books, 2013

“The Mughal Sikander: Influence of the Romance of Alexander on Mughal Manuscript Painting”, Journal of Arabic and Persian Studies, University of Calcutta, Vol. 10, 2017 (to be published)

“The Owl as a Visual Metaphor in the Art of Sadegh Hedayat”, Sadegh Hedayat: Hooting for 80 Years, India International Centre and Indian Institute of Persian Studies, New Delhi, 2017 (to be published)

“The Poet and the Painter: A Conversation between Ghalib and Chughtai in the Muraqqa-i-Chughtai”, The Asiatic Society Journal, Kolkata, 2018 (to be published)

“Humanism and Portraiture – The notion of humanism in medieval Persian poetry and its impact on portrait-making in Mughal manuscript art, 16th– 17th century”, International Conference on India and Central Asia, India International Centre and Indian Institute of Persian Studies, New Delhi, 2018 (to be published)

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