Textile References in the Bāburnāma

Textile References in the Bāburnāma
Independent Scholar, Germany
(59th Annual Meeting of the PIAC, 2016)

The Bāburnāma is the name of the lively memoirs of Ẓahīr-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Bābur (1483–1530), founder of the Mughal Empire. Bābur, a great-great-great-grandson of Timur, is venerated for observations and comments reflecting his interest in nature, society, politics and economics. His vivid account of events covers not just his life, but the history and geography of the areas he passed through or lived in, their flora and fauna, as well as the people with whom he came into contact.

My interests are in material culture and I was fascinated to discover numerous references to fabric, fibers, clothing and textile techniques in Bābur’s well-written autobiography. The Bāburnāma is widely translated, for this endeavor I used the version by the British orientalist Annette Susannah Beveridge (1842–1929).

I will summarize the textile references and interpret a small selection of references in the context of current textile research.