The Southern Indian “Devil in Calicut” in Early Modern Northern Europe: Images, Texts and Objects in Motion

in Journal of Early Modern History
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Abstract

For sixteenth-century Europeans, the so-called demon and idol known as the “devil in Calicut” vividly epitomized the town of Calicut on India’s Malabar coast. Ludovico di Varthema’s textual invention of the devil in 1510 was rapidly followed by a range of visual images that circulated in print. This article explores how and why the most persistent and vigorous images of this devil emerged from Reformation and Counter-Reformation northern Europe. It further proposes that aspects of the visual and material culture of southern India—and specifically metal sculptures and coins—should be mined in order to better understand the European creation of the “devil in Calicut” and its constant reinvention and circulation. The article argues that the devil maintained its polemical usefulness to a northern European world view in which the heresy of non-Europeans mattered a great deal, but so too did religious changes in Europe that were shaping views about idolatry, materiality, and the role of religious images.

The Southern Indian “Devil in Calicut” in Early Modern Northern Europe: Images, Texts and Objects in Motion

in Journal of Early Modern History

Sections

References

5

RubiésTravel and Ethnology8.

15

RubiésTravel and Ethnology160.

25

ScribnerFor the Sake of Simple Folk134-135; and Wolfgang Harms and Michael Schilling eds. Deutsche illustrierte Flugblätter des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts. Teil 2. Die Sammlung der Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. Historica (Tübingen 1997) 26.

28

Lee Palmer Wandel“The Reformation and the Visual Arts,” in The Cambridge History of Christianity. Volume 6: Reform and Expansioned. R. Po-chia Hsia (Cambridge 2007) Chapter 19.

33

Gülru Necipoglu“Süleyman the Magnificent and the Representation of Power in the Context of Ottoman-Hapsburg-Papal Rivalry,” The Art Bulletin 71 no. 3 (1989): 401–27. The turban seems to have been dropped in some French version of the Histoires prodigieuses after 1583.

41

MitterMuch Maligned Monsters22.

46

MitterMuch Maligned Monstersxviii.

47

See especially RubiésTravel and Ethnologyx.

50

Notably Elephanta see MitterMuch Maligned Monsters31-48.

52

GangolySouth Indian Bronzes59-60.

54

Ibid.91; and Pratapaditya Pal Indian Sculpture. Volume 2: 700-1800 (Berkeley 1988) 227.

57

See SivaramamurtiSouth Indian Bronzes65. The wildy gesticulating many-armed pose is somewhat less frequent for bronzes than those in figures 11 and 12 but the features demonstrate the fundamental iconography of Narasimha as well as the continuing vigour of sixteenth-century work. Gelders usefully but very briefly proposes a general identification with Narasimha in his “Genealogy of Colonial Discourse” 572.

60

Ibid.111-14.

62

Gelders“Genealogy of Colonial Discourse” 572.

63

For examples see NagaswamyMasterpieces40.

65

On this work see Dehejiva et al.The Sensuous and the Sacred116-17. Also see the range of examples in Nagaswamy Masterpieces especially 80-83.

70

Barbara Mears“Propaganda and Power: The Coinage of Viyanagara,” in South India under Viyanagaraed. Anila Verghese and Anna L. Dallapiccola (Oxford 2011) 283-93.

72

Ibid.151.

73

Ibid.151.

74

Ibid.115-16.

78

Ibid.242-43.

Figures

  • View in gallery
    Jörg Breu, Devil in Calicut, woodcut in Ludovico di Varthema, Die Ritterlich und lobwirdig rayß des gestrengen und über all ander weyt erfarnen ritters und Lantfarers herren Ludowico vartomans von Bolonia . . . (Augsburg, 1515), fol. i iij recto (detail). Photograph courtesy of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München, Rar 894.
  • View in gallery
    Jörg Breu, Statue of a temple deity in the vicinity of Calicut, woodcut in Ludovico di Varthema, Die Ritterlich und lobwirdig rayß des gestrengen und über all ander weyt erfarnen ritters und Lantfarers herren Ludowico vartomans von Bolonia . . . (Augsburg: Hansen Miller, 1515), fol. m i recto (detail). Photograph courtesy of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München, Rar 894.
  • View in gallery
    Unknown artist, Devil in Calicut, woodcut in Sebastian Münster, Cosmographia (Basel, 1552), 1087 (detail). Photograph courtesy of the Universitätsbibliothek Basel, Sign. Mey 116.
  • View in gallery
    Unknown artist, Alexander VI as a devil, woodcut with paper flap, c. 1566. Photograph courtesy of the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, IH 12.
  • View in gallery
    Unknown artist, Trouser devil, woodcut in Andreas Musculus, Vom zuluderten zucht und her erwegnen Pluderichten Hosen Teuffel vormanung und warnung (Frankfurt am Main: G. Raben and Weygand Hans Erben, 1563), frontispiece. Photograph courtesy of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München, Res/Mor. 1295s.
  • View in gallery
    Unknown artist, Devil in Calicut, woodcut in Pierre Boaistuau, Histoires prodigieuses (Paris, 1560), fol. 1 recto. Photograph courtesy of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
  • View in gallery
    Unknown artist, Devil in Calicut, manuscript illumination in Pierre Boaistuau, Histoires prodigieuses, Western MS 136, fol. 7 recto. Photograph courtesy of the Wellcome Library, London.
  • View in gallery
    Johannes van Doetecum and sons, Temple and mosque in India, etching in Jan Huygen van Linschoten, Itinerario. Voyage opte Schipvaert van Jan Huygen van Linschoten naer oost ofte Portugaels Indien, 1579–92 (Amsterdam, [1596]), plate 26. Photograph courtesy of the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel (A: 22.3 Geom. 2°).
  • View in gallery
    Johannes van Doetecum and sons, Chinese temple in Java, etching in Willem Lodewijcksz, Premiere livre de l’histoire de la navigation aux Indes orientales, par les Hollandois . . . Par G. M. A. VV. L. (Amsterdam, 1609), fol. 31 verso (detail). Photograph courtesy of the Universität Bern, Zentralbibliothek, Signatur ZB Bong IV 760.
  • View in gallery
    Unknown artist, Narasimha, bronze, sixteenth century. Photograph courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.
  • View in gallery
    Unknown artist, Yoganarasimha, bronze, twelfth century. Photograph courtesy of the Government Museum, Chennai.
  • View in gallery
    Unknown artist, Shiva as Shrikantha, bronze, c. 970. British Museum (1970.9-21.1). Photograph © The Trustees of the British Museum.
  • View in gallery View in gallery
    Johannes van Doetecum and sons, Non-European coins, etching in Willem Lodewijksz, Premiere livre de l’histoire de la navigation avx Indes orientales, par les Hollandois . . . Par G. M. A. VV. L. (Amsterdam, 1598), fol. 54 recto. Photograph courtesy of the Bibliothèque de Genève, BGE Fb 96 (1).
  • View in gallery
    Johannes van Doetecum and sons, Juggernaut, etching illustrating Linschoten’s Itinerario in Johann Theodor de Bry, Indiae orientalis, part 2: Indiae orientalis, in qua Johan. Hugonis Lintscotani navigatio in Orientem . . . (Frankfurt am Main: Wolfgang Richter, 1599), fol. xxii recto (detail). Photograph courtesy of the Universitätsbibliothek Basel, Sign. EUU I 70-71:1.
  • View in gallery
    Peter Paul Rubens, The Miracles of Saint Francis Xavier, oil on canvas, c. 1617-18. Photograph courtesy of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

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