History of Indian Islamic Art, Sharad Mohan

Sharad Mohan is passionate about Indian Art history. He is not a trained historian, but for Sharad, his passion for history far transcends any specialised training or for that matter, anything else in life. Sharad curates digital contenton social media related to the history of Indian Islamic art.


We talk to Sharad about Islamic art, culture, history and heritage in India.



Jahangir Preferring a Sufi Shaikh to Kings from the St. Petersburg Album, Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art


You are interested in Indian art history and heritage. Did you train in these areas?


As a matter of fact, I never trained for Indian Art History Specifically. Though I did stand first in my college during my graduation in History in 1979.


Through your work you bring attention the historical relationship between Muslims and Hindu’s in India, why is this important to you?


Indian Society has always been syncretic so it is very necessary for us to uphold that tradition. Also, I firmly believe that societies can benefit only on a symbiotic relationship more than a society that excludes certain section of the society.


The Mughal Empire (also known as Mogul, Timurid, or Hindustan empire) is considered one of the classic periods of India's long and amazing history. How is this history still remembered?


The Mughal Rule in Indian was indeed that of an Golden Era. During this period, some of the finest monuments were constructed and some of the most outstanding works of art commissioned. This era is still remembered in India. From time to time, commemorative postal stamps are issued in their honor, international symposiums are held in the back drop of this era, Conservation of the monument are a top priority for the central and state governments, and the Government pushes for their UNESCO Certification. Also, Posters of such monuments are periodically made to boost tourism. Adding, many cities & landmarks are named after The Mughal Rulers.


By 1650, the Mughal Empire was one of three leading powers of the Islamic world, how is history celebrated in India?


The Mughal rule is remembered to this day. It itself is a celebration. There may be no particular days earmarked for any celebration per-se but the fact that there is a profusion of literary works on the Mughals and their rule in the recent years is a matter of celebration in itself.


Can you share some of your favourite works of art connected to Islamic history with us?


A rather difficult question because every Mughal work of art is my favorite. However, A c1615 painting now at Smithsonian, USA “Jahangir Prefers a Sufi to Kings” Is my favorite. This painting is on the front cover of the class 6th history school books in India. An Article can be written on it. Here is the image of that celebrated painting.


The Islamic architecture in India is renowned all over the world. Can you tell us any interesting information about the architects who constructed and designed these magnificent buildings?


Yes, Islamic architecture is Renowned all over the world. Think India and it is the Taj Mahal which first comes into our minds. Three Magnificent Monuments – Humanyun’s Tomb (1572AD), Taj Mahal (1632AD) and Delhi Red Fort (1639AD) Have their histories intertwined. The Humanyun’s Tomb Designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyas Served as a Prototype for the Taj Mahal Designed by Ustad Ahmad Lahouri who also designed The Red Fort. The Descendants of the Artisans who worked to construct the Taj Mahal still live around the monuments Fascinating, isn’t it?


Because of the British Empire, Indian art is now across the world in museums, galleries and private collections. What are your thoughts on this?


True, Because of the British Rule, Indian Art is now scattered all over the world. There may be a clamor for their return. But personally, I am comfortable with these object being there. There is already enough material in India. Having Indian art across the world increases viewership and global awareness of the greatness of Indian Art. No issues here.


What does the future of Islamic art and culture look like to you and how can art history help its development?


The future of Islamic art and culture is an inseparable part of the greater Indian Culture. Islamic Art influenced and helped the development of non-Islamic Art School. So, for any student of art history, knowledge of Islamic art is essential. It can never be overlooked by any art historian or researcher.


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