Tag Archives: Indus valley

Article: Relations between Sehwan Sharif and the Indus in Sindh. Genealogy of a separation, by Delage and Ortis

In a journal issue dealing with the relations between cities and rivers in South Asia (2014, republished in 2016), Rémy Delage and Delphine Ortis published an article (in French) dealing with the case study of Sehwan Sharif and the Indus:

Relations between Sehwan Sharif and the Indus in Sind. Genealogy of a separation.” pp. 67-90.

“Up to the nineteenth century, the Indus made the fortune of the small town of Sehwan Sharif, located in central Sindh, in southern Pakistan. Today, the river is no longer the characterizing feature of this locality. This contribution traces the history of the fluctuating relationship between the town and the river up to the present day, where any direct references to the Indus in the local society have vanished. It is therefore a narrative of detachment, both physical and economical as well as ritual, which is considered here. We address specifically how the cult of the Indus, through its divine manifestation Udero Lāl, changed with the departure of the Hindu Sindhi community to India. Through the relationship to the holy figure which currently dominates in Sehwan, the Sufi saint La`l Shahbāz Qalandar, we will also show how the latter has come to encompass the deity of the river.”

Book launch in Karachi, AFK, 28 October 2011

The Express Tribune, Karachi, 30 October 2011

The book by Michel Boivin, Artefacts of Devotion. A Sufi Repertoire of the Qalandariyya in Sehwan Sharif, Sindh, Pakistan, was launched on 28th of October 2011 at the Alliance Française de Karachi (AFK). Read the book description from the official website of OUP in Karachi: Continue reading Book launch in Karachi, AFK, 28 October 2011

Book review: Objects of translation by Finbarr Barry Flood

Finbarr Barry Flood, Objects of Translation: Material Culture and Medieval « Hindu-Muslim » Encounter, Princeton-Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2009, 366 p.

Flood’s Objects of Translation: Material Culture and Medieval « Hindu-Muslim » Encounter is according to me, that is to say according to a young historian of pre-modern South Asia and ‘Islamic’ cultures, the book one has to read if interested in the history (that is to say possible comprehension of) and more particularly in the genesis of the Indo-Muslim worlds and cultures, and beyond, if interested in trans-cultural processes, forms, perception, and reflection about them.

The book, which is composed of six thematic chapters dealing both with commercial and political (notably through looting and gifting) trans-cultural contacts through artefacts, coins, dress, paintings, inscriptions, and architectural structures, or literary translations, is an invaluable contribution to Indo-Islamic studies, which widely breaks away from the still traditional division between “Islamic” and “Indianist” or “Indic” fields. The material it considers, presents and analyses, – including pre-Islamic, Ghaznavid and Ghurid Afghanistan –, is extremely vast and rich, and it thus offers a unique and complete synthesis about the first Indo-Islamic artistic productions and their historical significance, from the beginning of the eighth to the early thirteenth centuries.

Flood’s recent work in general has largely participated in the making of a “new” history and new forms of history regarding pre-modern South Asia, giving material culture and complex perception and understanding a more important place. This book is both a broadening and deepening of this approach and reasoning. One can find here for example his study of Ghurid monuments in the Indus Valley, displaying an important Indo-Islamic composition both in their forms and patterns. But it also constitutes, as the author himself declares he is “forging a dialogue between those interested in the relationships between precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial history and historiography”, an important theoretical and reflexive (or epistemological) contribution by knowingly reflecting and using contemporary theories. Rejecting, and arguing against the Manichean and teleological views of history that have been flourishing in Indian historiography under colonial and nationalist banners, the static and narrow conception of pre-modern Ages, and the monolithic perceptions of religions, cultures, and identities, it first recalls the vast mobility and fluidity that existed during the period (Roots or Routes? in the introduction), – which is again highly displayed through the different material productions analysed in the book –, and ends (Conclusion: In and Out of Place) by calling new ways of negotiating the present challenges, notably regarding transregional cultural flows, contingent cosmopolitanisms, subaltern diasporas, and trans-cultural elites, i.e. globalization, or one may say, identities on multiple scales.

Johanna Blayac (EPHE/MIFS, Paris)

Other publications

Piety and Politics in the Early Indian Mosque, Edited volume in the Debates in Indian History and Society series, Oxford University Press India, 2008.

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