In 17th-century Mughal India, longing, which was often embodied in poetic and pictorial images of ideal women and lovers, became a fundamental principle of aesthetic enjoyment. The theme of longing turned sensual experiences into always potentially metasensual searchings for the divine, challenging the connoisseur with a choice about what and how to want. The visual arts intensified longing by suggesting yet withholding, thereby embracing their material limitations as potent means to intensify the experience of desire.
Molly Aitken, City College of New York, presents the emergence of this connoisseurship of longing from circles of Muslim and Hindu elite who shared distinct but mutually intriguing ideas about sensuality, love, and the divine.
Part of the Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas' "Love, Loss and Longing" Saturday University Lecture Series at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.
Presented in partnership with the University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies and the Elliott Bay Book Company.