Objects As History Week 14

The flow of income in Europe led to the establishment of a new era, called the Renaissance. Renaissance of course, means rebirth. This was a period of revival, of culture, traditions, and art. It was also a period of scientific inquiry and intellectual curiosity, where everyone began asking the questions that they never thought had been asked before. A boom in trade meant that Europe could use trade as a medium to propagate Christianity. And that motive is how we ended up with a 200-year long struggle, against a foreign force, against racism, and against colonialism.

  1. We were introduced to King Henry and the War of the Roses. We also took a look at King Henry’s Greenwich Armour. This actually inspired me to explore King Henry’s other armours as part of my final project.
  2. Vasco da Gama landing in Calicut, establishing the Portuguese EIC. Meanwhile Thomas Roe begins to become influential in Jahangir’s court.
  3. Growth of the EIC, Tipu Sultan,the Opium wars.
  4. EIC developing a standing army using Indian soldiers.
  5. The beginning of the viceroy rule in India. Introduction of policies like the Doctrine of Lapse, and creating British subsidiary states.
  6. Discussion of the Revolt of 1857.

This one phase of history is something I’ve gone through over and over, without an option. But something new I learnt today was about a man called Azimullah Khan. He was an orphan taken in by Nana Saheb Peshwa, who was sent to London to put in a request to the Queen to get back his pension. This man took the time to learn about the British, revolutions of the French, and learnt about the concept of a free country. He then suggested the plan to Nana Saheb Peshwa, after which he teamed up with Rani Laxmibai, Tatya Tope and Bahadur Shah Zafar to launch the revolt. This was a very interesting insight since I’ve always been taught history moving from one significant personality to another, and we never think about smaller personalities like this who might have ended up making a huge difference. Another concept that gave me a fresh perspective on something I’d already read up on is small things that the British did to play with our conscience related to religion. The best example of this is obviously the Enfield rifle, but smaller examples like the Civil Service exam being held in Britain, clashing with the Hindu belief of losing religion when you step into foreign shores, really tells you that the British knew the game they were playing. Of course, in the end we realized our true Indian identity, and thus live in this huge democracy today.

The objects that I decided for my final project were:

  1. Product Design: Roman Surgical Knife
  2. Communication Design: Amir Khusrau’s Khamsa
  3. Strategy Design and Management: The Code of Hammurabi
  4. Interior Design:Terracotta Panathenaic Prize Amphora
  5. Fashion Design: King Henry’s Foot Armour
  6. Fashion Communication and Styling: King Tutankhamun’s Sandals
  1. This knife was something I was pretty clear I wanted to use in my final booklet. So I will discuss it in my next blog.
  2. This Khamsa or Quintlet was created in Amir Khusrau’s Folio, and represents a scene where Alexander the Great went to visit the sage Plato in a cave. The reason why I was drawn towards this piece is because it communicates an elaborate story just by looking at the illustration, without even reading the words.
  3. The Code of Hammurabi is also a choice for my final write up.
  4. This amphora looked downright gorgeous to me. And the fact that it has lasted so long with the paint intact only goes to show the quality of craftsmanship involved in it’s creation. It gives us a very elaborate understanding of the Panathenaic and Olympic games that took place in Ancient Greece. These amphoras were filled with olive oil, considered sacred to Goddess Athena. I chose these for ID since these are quite tall, and could decorate a living space.
  5. Probably my second favourite object after the knife. This armour was made for the king when he was tall and fit, instead of the obese version that we know today. It fit him like a second skin, and encapsulated his entire body, weighing around 47 kgs. The miracle here is that the armour is made completely by hand, and yet, there is not a single gap. This armour was made for the Field of Cloth of Gold tournament hosted by the King of France, but a last minute change in the rules led this armour to stay unused. However, it was studied by NASA to make it’s first space flight suits, because of the marvel of no gaps in the armour.
  6. Tutankhamun knew what drip meant before it was cool. The common man in Egypt did not bother to even wear sandals, since it would get too hot and the sandals would only end up staying hot all day. But for royal events and processions, King Tut made sure he was setting a trend, wearing his leather and gold sandals. These have artwork engraved in their sole, with 4 prisoners tied up with lotus stems, representing prisoners from enemies surrounding Egypt. King Tut wanted to make sure he was treading on his enemies even as he was casually taking a stroll,and with nothing less than gold foil used. Biggest flex.

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