Carving and communities: marble carving for Muslim communities at Khambhāt and around the Indian Ocean rim, late 13th – mid-15th centuries CE)




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Freer Galllery of Art, Smithsonian Institute.



Peer reviewed



The article (developed from a paper given at an interdisciplinary workshop at the University of Michigan’s Kelsey Museum of Archaeology and University Art Museum in 2002) is the second of a series to look at stone production centres at coastal locations around the Indian Ocean and their participation in networks of stone circulation, a possibility never previously considered with any rigour in spite of well known Classical precedents in the Mediterranean. The article documents and examines the production of marble carving at the major port of the western coast of India, Khambhat, in the medieval period, and examines the interaction between indigenous marble carving traditions and the demands of a new Muslim mercantile elite at the port, as well as the phenomenon of the carving’s appeal to elite patrons around the Indian Ocean rim from eastern Africa to Java. My research supports the view that the circulation of carved stone is a new area of material cultural exchange which hitherto has been unconceptualised. Fieldwork was carried out in India and Indonesia, as was archival research in various museum archives and archaeological institutes around the West Indian Ocean. Research was supported by grants from the Society for South Asian Studies of the British Academy and the Fondation Max van Berchem, Geneva. This article will contribute to a larger study of mercantile diasporas and their material cultures, Coastal Perspectives and Mercantile Cultures - India, Arabia and Persia 500-1500 CE, developed while on an Aga Khan Post-Doctoral Fellowship for Advanced Historical Research in Islamic Art and Architecture at Harvard University during Spring 2007.


RAE 2008, UoA 63 Art and Design


Lambourn, E. (2007) Carving and Communities: Marble Carving for Muslim Communities at Khambhāt and Around the Indian Ocean Rim, Late 13th – mid-15th Centuries. Ars Orientalis, 34, pp. 99-133.


Research Institute

Institute of History
Institute of Art and Design