Online Exhibition “Mapping the Islamic World. The Ottoman, Safavid & Mughal Empires”, Stanford University

This exhibition explores maps of the Islamic World, focusing on the “Gunpowder Empires” of Ottoman Turkey, Safavid Persia, and Mughal India. These empires controlled vast territories during the early modern period (ca. 1500-1800). The Ottoman expanse reigned over Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa. Further east, the Mughals dominated South Asia, stretching from the Indus basin to Bangladesh. Situated between the Ottomans and the Mughals, the Safavids ruled over the Iranian plateau, as well as modern-day Azerbaijan, Armenia, and parts of the Caucasus, Iraq, and Afghanistan. A rich cartographic exchange took place between these three empires and European powers, as maps were used to chart their expansive territories, military campaigns, and trade routes. 

Through maps, miniatures, manuscripts, scientific instruments, as well as travel diaries and imperial genealogical charts, we will map the sky, the sea, borders, cultures, and the ancient past of the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires. Examining maps made by Islamic cartographers alongside those made by Europeans highlights how these cultures viewed, represented, and understood the world around them. 

Link to the website


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