The Persian Madonna and child: Commodified gifts between diplomacy and armed struggle

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

A gold-embroidered velvet featuring a repeating pattern of the nursing Madonna was among the gifts sent by Shah Abbas to the Venetian doge in 1603. Taking this luxury silk textile as its point of departure, this essay considers Safavid embassies to Europe at the turn of the seventeenth century against the background of the Safavid kings innovative attempt to create a royal silk monopoly on the one hand, and on the other, his quest to alter the established course of the silk route through Ottoman lands. By placing such custommade gifts in a triangular network of diplomatic and commercial exchange, this essay argues that at the turn of the seventeenth century, the shah was setting in motion objects that oscillated between the categories of gift and commodity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)637-651
Number of pages15
JournalArt History
Volume38
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

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