Objectifying the Occult: Studying an Islamic Talismanic Shirt as an Embodied Object

In: Arabica
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  • 1 University of Delaware

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Abstract

Islamic talismanic shirts from pre-Mughal South Asia form a stylistically cohesive subset within the larger corpus of Islamic talismanic shirts from the patrimonial-bureaucratic period. These objects have eluded sustained study due, in large part, to their wide geographical purview and dissimilarity from other period textiles. While these objects bear some similarities with talismans of smaller shape and disparate media, their form as garments has yet to be considered as integral to their function. In analyzing one of these South Asian shirts, from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, parallels between the arts of the book and the construction of armor highlight the apotropaic function of Koranic text when placed on the human body.

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