The Emperor’s Flowers. From Bulb to Carpet

The exhibition The Emperor’s Flowers, From Bulb to Carpet offers an analysis of the decorative motifs of two carpets in the Islamic Art Collection of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum – Founder’s Collection produced in Mughal India during the reign of Shah Jahan (1627–58). The type and naturalistic quality of the floral designs in these pieces evokes the dialogues established between East and West throughout the seventeenth century and the movement, on a global scale, of people, books, images and botanical specimens.

The bilingual publication, in both Portuguese and English, presents texts by the curators, Teresa Nobre de Carvalho and Clara Serra. The first text, ‘Flowers from the Indies, Europe and the Levant’, by Teresa Nobre de Carvalho, investigates how botanical knowledge circulated around the globe through richly illustrated albums, and how these arrived at the Mughal court and inspired its artists. The texts by Clara Serra contextualise the Mughal Empire, its decorative grammar and the way in which Mughal art was influenced by the representations of flowers arriving from Europe, which contributed to the development of floral decoration, in textile production in particular.

This edition is richly illustrated with images of the exhibited objects and comparative images that are a perfect accompaniment to the written texts.


Technical information

Clara Serra, Teresa Nobre de Carvalho
Editorial coordination:
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
Updated on 16 november 2021

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