This study was first published as “Ebstorf in Baroda: The Mappae Mundi of Gulammohammed Sheikh” in Alfred Hiatt, Dislocations: Maps, Classical Tradition, and Spatial Play in the European Middle Ages, Studies and Texts 218 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2020), pp. 262-280. © Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. All rights reserved; reprinted by permission. For further information, please visit: .

In the first decade of the twenty-first century a number of artists, working on different continents

and with different media, began to fashion creative responses to medieval maps. Those responses were, in different ways, playful and for the most part gently provocative, unmooring preconceptions about the fixed nature of geographical space, and the distinction between modern and medieval ways of representing it. Grayson Perry’s “Map of Nowhere” (2008) reinvented the Ebstorf mappa mundi, recasting the artist as a Christ-like figure presiding over an allegorised topography. Perry’s earlier “Balloon” (2004) is a “transcription” of the Hereford mappa mundi, in which figures from the London art world populate the medieval image [1]. The Ebstorf map - a monumental mappa mundi created around 1300 in north Germany - similarly infused Olivier Ruellet’s “Memory/ Territory” (2006-7), in which conflated maps of the Paris Metro, the London Underground, and France underpinned the artist’s meditations on travel. In New York, Joyce Kozloff’s “JEEZ” (2011-12) also responded to the Ebstorf map by adding 125 images of Christ, sourced from various parts of the world to the map’s own depiction of the deity. Kozloff’s previous work included seventy-two Knowledge frescos and globes (1998-2000), reinterpretations of maps and globes primarily from the “Age of Discovery,” but also from the Middle Ages, including the twelfth-century world map of the Islamic cartographer al-Idrisi. For all of these artists the presence of subjectivity, history, and memory on medieval maps appear to have had a liberating effect. More than that, medieval maps do not exclude the human body from their frame, and they offer intriguing alignments with the itinerary, one function of which is to record the body’s interaction with space. Geographical space - on the medieval map as on the modern artwork - is malleable, at times corporeal. This is not to say that it does not express a reality. It is simply that the realities expressed are those of memory, of argument, of belief, and of imagination, as well as of topography. Crucially, these realities are expressed on the map, thereby connecting (and in the case of the twenty-first-century artwork, reconnecting) the record of geographic reality with the experience and the associations of space.

Arguably the most complex of all recent artistic responses to medieval maps has come from the Gujarati scholar and poet Gulammohammed Sheikh. As with Kozloff, Perry, and Ruellet, the Ebstorf world map has been the catalyst for new work: Sheikh’s Mappamundi Suite, a series of images composed primarily in 2003-4 but still subject to adaptation and supplementation, comprises multiple reworkings of the medieval map. To construct his contemporary mappae mundi, Sheikh scanned a photographic reproduction of the Ebstorf mappa mundi, manipulated the digitised map to form a collage with other images, then printed it, adding paint and yet further images to its surface. The basic form of the map remains: its rivers, mountains, and cities are still legible. But its frame and crucial aspects of its content have changed. The original showed Christ’s face at the top of the map, his hands at the far north and south of the world image, and his feet at the west; on most versions of Sheikh’s mappa mundi the saviour has been decapitated, though his limbs linger. Instead of Jesus, four principal figures surround the map (Figure 33). At the top right of the image sits the fifteenth-century poet Kabir; beneath him whirls a dancer from the Pahari region of north India. To the left of the map, two figures represent the theme of thwarted longing: Giotto’s noli me tangere, his painting of Mary Magdalene with arms outstretched towards Christ after the resurrection, and a Mughal-era image from the popular story of Majnun (the mad) and his beloved Layla, in which Majnun, emaciated and driven insane by love, is led by an old woman to Layla’s tent. Within several of the maps, two other icons recur: an image from the third Kanda of the Ramayana, in which Rama pursues a deer, and a depiction of St Francis preaching to the birds, also attributed to Giotto. Such an ensemble is evidently dislocative, but in what sense and to what effect?

Born in Surendranagar, Gujarat, in 1937, Sheikh studied in the early 1960s at the Royal College of Art, London. Disillusioned by the dominance of minimalism and Pop Art, he developed a profound interest in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Flemish and Italian painting, and at the same time began to examine with some intensity the rich collection of Indian and Persian miniatures held in London institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum [2]. Sheikh was struck by the formal and thematic similarities between these traditions. His return to India in 1967 to take up a post at the Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, facilitated the development of an artistic style in which Indian and Western pictorial techniques and images freely interact. A frequent theme of his work and thought is the interpenetration of times: “returning to India and visiting my hometown,” he has written, “I saw accretions of time past still alive in interaction with elements of change, unharmonized yet vital” [3]. Increasingly - against a backdrop of intensifying sectarian violence - Sheikh’s mixture of styles has assumed significance as a means of asserting the principle of religious tolerance and opposition to dogmatism. Sheikh’s work is characterised by bright colours, resistance to single-point perspective, and the use of visual quotations and “splinters” within each image, never at the expense of legibility and cohesion. In the painting “Ek Achambha Dekha Re Bhai” (2001) “the face of Kabir becomes a proto landscape, in which monks and angels, yogis and bodhisattvas, the prophet and pilgrims traverse in a historical quest” [4], while in “Numens” (2001) the artist inserts sacred buildings, including the destroyed Babri Masjid of Ayodhya, onto a repainting of the “Thebaid” is attributed to Gherardo Starnina (c. 1410). Already in 1981 Sheikh had proclaimed (or acclaimed) the continual telescoping and reunion of traditional and modern, private and public, the inside and outside: “as times and cultures converge,” he wrote, “the citadels of purism explode” [5].

Map as Crossroads

Perhaps the first point that should be made about Sheikh’s mappamundi suite is that its foundation, the Ebstorf map, is itself far from a stable text. Lost, found, copied, destroyed, re-made, its own curious story is embedded in Sheikh’s new maps. The mappa mundi was constructed around 1300 for the Benedictine nunnery of Ebstorf, situated between the towns of Braunschweig and Lu¨neburg in Lower Saxony. It consisted of thirty parchment sheets, sewn together. The richly detailed image they presentedincludedaround1330inscriptions,ranging from single words to lengthy descriptions, accompanying hundreds of pictures [6]. Ele??ments of its form resemble other medieval mappae mundi. The map is centred on Jerusalem, and the three partes of Asia, Africa, and Europe are divided by the Mediterranean, the Nile, and a combination of the Don and the Black Sea. It is the product of an intellectual milieu informed by the bestiary, by encyclopedic texts “on the nature of things,” by romance literature, saints’ lives, and the literature and practice of pilgrimage [7]. Some of these diverse influences crystallise in the map’s extensive paratext, the writing that surrounded the world image, and that acted as a form of commentary on it (Figure 34). This commentary begins in the top left corner with a section of text on the name and nature of “celum” (sky, heavens, firmament), and proceeds to the right with a chunk of text on the earthly paradise. On the other side of Christ’s head, texts inform the reader about the shape of the earth (Orbis a rotunditate), and God’s creation of it (Prima die), illustrated by a schematic representation of the three parts. In the far right corner, a brief statement describes the map itself. According to this account, the term “mappa” equates to “forma” (figure, shape, image), and the origin of the world map lies in a survey of the entire world commissioned by Julius Caesar. The resulting image offers “no small utility” to readers, direction to travellers, and “the love of freely contemplating (speculatio) the things along the way” [8]. The meaning of this brief and somewhat enigmatic statement can be understood in at least two ways. The most obvious is that it suggests a programme of spiritual reading, in which the “traveller” seeks moral direction and a passage from the earthly to the heavenly. On this understanding, the map may tend towards allegory. But an alternative is to read the instruction in less exalted terms, as an invitation to unstructured, even leisured, looking: something close to browsing. The map is useful, practical, but the things along the path of utility provide enjoyment. Does such a reading run the risk of encouraging an anachronistic modern (mis)understanding of the ordered, hierarchical nature of medieval reading practices?

Perhaps; but perhaps too we need to hesitate before denying the Middle Ages the textual freedoms we readily ascribe to modernity. It is precisely the plurality of possible readings that makes even a relatively well-documented example of a medieval world map such as the Ebstorf mappa mundi is so hard to classify. For, despite the best efforts of several twentieth- and twenty-first-century scholars and editors, the purpose of the Ebstorf map remains uncertain. It seems likely that it was displayed within the nunnery at Ebstorf, but it is not clear where or how. Was its function pedagogic? Liturgical (since the inscriptions near the hands and feet of Christ contain liturgical quotations)? [9] Did the map act as a gift from or to the duchy of Braunschweig-Lu¨neburg? Was it an Andachtsbild (devotional image) for pilgrims visiting the graves of the ninth-century “Ebstorf martyrs,” sites of veneration from the fourteenth century, and perhaps earlier? The martyrs’ tombs appear on the map, where, in combination with the image of Christ rising from the sepulchre in Jerusalem, they may constitute a theme of grave veneration [10].

Like several other maps, the Ebstorf mappa mundi could be read in order to see the local space where the map was produced and displayed, in relation to the world [11]. The central and northern European area is significantly expanded to include much more information than appears on other contemporary mappae mundi. At the same time, the complexity of the map makes insistence on a purely or even primarily localist significance appears excessive. On the Ebstorf map, for example, the twelve winds are represented with some care around the surface of the earth [12]. They are ethnographically significant: each wind circle contains a hexameter, which links it to a particular part of the world, and in some instances to a particular people (the British, Ruthenians, Goths, the Seres, Indians) [13]. It seems legitimate to understand these wind inscriptions as representations of the movement of air, to be visualised across the far-from-static surface of the image in its entirety.

The original map can no longer provide answers to questions about its function. It was rediscovered at Ebstorf in 1830, having apparently lain unnoticed among Catholic detritus for the best part of three centuries following the reform of the nunnery during the sixteenth century. It quickly attracted attention on its reappearance, however, to the extent that part of it (the Red Sea area, no doubt attractively coloured) was swiftly removed by “an unknown evil-doer” [14] The map was photographed at the end of the nineteenth century, losing in the process some parts of its fabric, while acquiring creative additions at the hands of its editors, who published two somewhat contradictory images of the artefact [15]. However distorted, these photographic records became crucial when, on the night of October 8-9, 1943, the Ebstorf map was destroyed as a result of an Allied bombing raid on Hanover. The loss of the artefact was keenly felt, not least in the Ebstorf Kloster itself, [16] and four facsimile reproductions of the original, based on late nineteenth-century collotype tables, were produced between 1951 and 1953. These tables scanned and electronically conjoined, also form the basis for the digital reconstruction of the map published as part of its 2007 edition [17]. The original is lost, but its simulacra abound. For a text that before 1830 was literally unknown this fate seems far from tragic.

Its twenty-first-century incarnation at the hands of Gulammohammed Sheikh has multiplied the spectral map even further. The “suite” of fourteen mappae mundi created by Sheikh can be roughly divided into two or three basic types [18]. The most frequent version of the mappa mundi displays the four icons at the corners: Majnun and the old woman; Kabir; Mary Magdalene; and the Pahari dancer (Mappamundi Suite 1-7). These icons threaten to enter into the fabric of the image, and on several of the maps Sheikh has repeatedly inserted one or more images (either Majnun and the old woman, or the imagesof Rama hunting and St Francis preaching) through the interior. Sheikh’s mappae mundi contain a number of openings in the fabric of the map which the artist has filled with swatches of colour, or patched with other images. Conversely, Sheikh has filled a number of the lesions of the original, such as the vacant Red Sea area, and the frayed northern European section. The second type of mappa mundi in the suite appears as a disc ona bedofcloudswith twofigures on either side of the map: demons in two instances (Mappamundi Suite 9: “Turmoil within”; and 12: “Beyond Borders”), while in two other examples the Magdalene engages in a sort of implied dialogue with Majnun and his captor, the old woman (Mappamundi Suite 8 and 10: “Magdalene and Majnun”) (Figure 35).

The third version of the map has no framing imagery, or inserted icons, but sees much of the content of the original replaced by a collage of images, including in one instance a sixteenth-century European world map (Mappamundi Suite 14: “Troubled Terrains”; cf. Mappamundi Suite 13: “Whose World”). In a final, and entirely appropriate, irony, in 2003-4 four female weavers in Melbourne, Australia, recreated one of Sheikh’s mappae mundi as a tapestry, with a form and with dimensions that closely resemble those of the original map [19]. Evidently a meditation on the Ebstorf map and the representation of the world more generally, [20] the “suite” may appear to be a programmatic proclamation of tolerance, of religious and social pluralism, and of the shared traditions that underlie sometimes warring faiths. Yet there is an alternative reading. The mappa mundi suite can be seen not simply as the expression of a benign tolerance, but as an image sequence with darkly polemical undercurrents, an explosive attack on religious and aesthetic “citadels of purism” through the convergence of times and peoples.

Map against the world?

Sheikh’s mappa mundi suite is instantly notable for its combination of images that are genuinely pluralist, a meeting of traditions on and around the world picture. These images are far from uncontroversial. Each of the icons imported onto the Ebstorf map by Sheikh contains a hint and in some cases much more than a hint, of transgression against religious orthodoxy. No single individual or deity could be granted the centrality that the original map accords to Christ, but Kabir, seated at the top right and apparently casting an amused glance across the earth, is perhaps the suite’s presiding spirit [21]. The very person of Kabir, a weaver with a Muslim name whose poems declare his worship of the Hindu deity Ram, embodies religious pluralism. Aspects of his biography remain uncertain. He seems likely to have been born into the Hindu weaver caste, the relatively low status of which may have encouraged significant levels of conversion to Islam in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries [22]. The oeuvre of Kabir is far from clearly defined, with large amounts of pseudonymous material present in the canon. As a result, generalisation about the nature of his verse requires some caution [23]. There are a number of different Kabirs - variously pithy, ecumenical, anti-Brahmin, respectful of authority, bhakti, Sufi, Yogic - and some of the most frequently cited examples of his verse are likely to be para-Kabirian at best.

Nevertheless, it is possible to say that, while profoundly religious, Kabir’s poetry is at the same time deeply hostile to religious hierarchy and authority. Brahmins are a particular target, but so too are Islamic conventions that deflect rather than nurture religious feelings.

If you are a Brahman,

born from a Brahmani,

Why didn’t you enter this world

through a different path?

If you are a Turk,

born from a Turkini,

Why didn’t God Himself

circumcise you in the womb?

Says Kabir,

there are no low-born:

This man alone is vile

who does not invoke Ram [24]

The sharp criticism of the formal elements of both faiths created a space for Kabir that could not be assimilated wholly into either Hinduism or Islam. It is not coincidental that some of Kabir’s verses are preserved among the corpus of Sikh sacred writing, the Guru Granth. In fact, the influences on Kabir’s thought seem to have come from religious movements that crossed sectarian lines. He is frequently associated with bhakti, a particularly vigorous form of devotion centred on suffering, love, and yearning for union with the divine. But Kabir’s bhakti is inflected with notions derived from Sufism as well as from Tantric yoga, an offshoot from Buddhism in which the individual seeks a state of bliss or “non-conditionment” associated with the concept of the void, freed from the bonds of the material world [25]. As a figure who in some sense exists on the borders of at least three or four established religions, drawing from all of them, criticizing all of them, Kabir provokes.

Wonderful are the deeds of the All-merciful -

worthless the Veda and the Koran!

False is the Koranic Law and the sacred Thread;

Neither Turk nor Hindu ever grasped that mystery.

The enigma of the Mind, they cannot unravel -

yet, in their folly, they keep talking of two Religions!

From a mixture of earth and water

was this universe born:

When the Sabda is re-absorbed into the Void,

what then will “Caste” mean? [26]

Some of these qualities of provocation and renunciation are embodied by three other figures in Sheikh’s suite: Majnun, Mary Magdalene, and St Francis. The story of Majnun and Layla exists in many different versions, having been subject to multiple retellings since it first became popular in ninth-century Arabic poetry. Possibly the most influential medieval version of the story was its adaptation in the hands of the Persian author Nizami, who constructed a single narrative poem in 1188, which he included as one of five stories in his Khamsa. “Majnun,” the mad one, is the name given to Qays, a young man from a good family who as an adolescent falls profoundly in love with Layla, a girl of the same age from a different tribe. Although his love is reciprocated, Qays’s excessive behaviour (in particular, the composition of verse extolling Layla and his love for her) alarms Layla’s father, and he refuses to allow the pair to marry. Qays’s response is to become ever more “Majnun.” He leaves society and family, lives alone in a mountainous wasteland, and continues to write poetry. In a climactic scene, his father takes him to the kaaba at Mecca and advises him to pray to Muhammad to cast out his infatuation with Layla. Instead, Majnun prays for the intensification of his love: “if I am drunk with the wine of love, let me drink even more deeply.” [27] In one reading, Majnun transgresses the central tenets of Islamic culture and belief: he deserts his family, disobeys his father, pursuessecular love, and associates with animals, including unclean ones such as dogs [28]. Even if Majnun is read as affirming, rather than transgressing, Islam - a proposition supported by the story’s widespread popularity within Islamic societies - he does so in the role of an outsider figure, the ascetic who endures madness, exile and, in the scene chosen by Sheikh, a form of captivity. [29]

This scene is particularly complex. In the versionofNizami,Majnuncomesupon an old woman leading a dervish in chains as a means of begging for money [30]. Majnun replaces the dervish and permits the woman to lead him around the desert. When the two encounter settlements at oases, Majnun recites his love poems, cries out “Layla,” bangs head and body against stones, and dances around “like a drunken madman, while the woman punished him” [31]. Inevitably

they find themselves outside the tent of Layla herself. Majnun utters a lament -“You have left me to myself, sharing with me nothing but your grief ... I am your prisoner; you be my judge” - tears off his chains, and returns to the mountains, typically frustrating any hopes for the lovers’ union [32]. The gesture of replacing the dervish is curiously performative: Majnun appears before Layla in a kind of disguise that is at the same time a true representation of his imprisoned, and impassioned, state. In the sumptuous sixteenth-century depiction of the scene used by Sheikh, the degraded nature of the prisoner/beggar is emphasised by a group of children who chase behind him, throwing stones (Figure 36) [33]. And in Sheikh’s “suite” this moment of willed humiliation spreads across the surface of the earth: on Mappamundi Suite 2 (“Looking for Layla”) Majnun reappears everywhere from India to Sicily to Scandinavia, reiterating the moment at which, more dervish than the dervish, his identity is simultaneously asserted and dissolved (Figure 37).

The posture of Mary Magdalene, who appears opposite Majnun in mute dialogue on two of the mappae mundi in Sheikh’s suite, is even more obviously one of unfulfilled yearning. This image, familiar within Western medieval iconography, is based on an event described only in the gospel of John, in which Mary Magdalene sees Christ after his resurrection, but fails to recognise him Jesus asks her whom she seeks (quem quaeris); she mistakes him for a gardener (hortulanus), and asks where he has placed her lord. When he addresses her as “Maria,” she responds by calling him “Rabboni” (“which means master”), and he utters the words “Noli me tangere, nondum enim ascendi ad Patrem meum” (do not touch me, for I am not yet risen to my father) [34]. The iconography heightens the emotional intensity of the scene by showing the Magdalene kneeling with arms extended, expanding upon the implication carried by the Vulgate’s “tangere” that she attempted to touch Christ (the original Greek verb, ??pt?µa?, may simply indicate movement towards him) [35]. The particular noli me tangere chosen by Sheikh comes from the chapel of the Magdalene in Assisi (Figure 38), where it appears opposite a “Raising of Lazarus,” in which the Magdalene weeps before Christ in a similarly kneeling posture, though not with arms outstretched. It shows some significant differences to another noli me tangere painted by Giotto, in the Arena Chapel, Padua, where Magdalene’s hair is covered, and where her gesture appears less imploring. The hair is significant: a veritable icon of the saint, it is with her hair that she dries Christ’s feet [36].

After the resurrection - according to a tradition originating in the ninth century - she becomes “hairy Mary,” an ascetic living naked, whose decency is preserved by locks that flow from head to toe [37]. A reformed sinner (commonly understood to mean a prostitute), a devoted disciple whose physical contact with the deity is both permitted and denied, on the margins and finally outside of society, she has more in common with Majnun than meets the eye, and it is the unexpected congruence of their stories that seems to inform Sheikh’s use of their images.

It was her penitence for past sins, and her removal from the world, that made Mary Magdalene particularly venerated within the Franciscan movement, to the extent that Francis could be perceived as a second Magdalene [38]. The Magdalene chapel at Assisi was commissioned by the town’s Franciscan bishop, Teobaldo Pontano, who appears clutching Magdalene’s hand just beneath the noli me tangere. The story of Francis’s life narrated in the upper church at Assisi includes another image used repeatedly in Sheikh’s mappa mundi cycle, Francis preaching to the birds (Figures 39 and 40). Like so many aspects of the Franciscan tradition, this famous incident is susceptible to different interpretations. The biography of the saint produced by Bonaventure and given official status in 1266 explains that Francis came upon a gathering of birds near the town of Bevagna. He hastened towards them, and they, in turn, converged on him. His preaching consisted of an admonition to his “bird brothers” to praise their creator for granting them feathers, wings, and the purity of the air. The birds responded with gestures of rapt attention and only departed once Francis had made the sign of the cross [39].

The story serves to illustrate both Francis’s skill in preaching and his embrace of God’s creation in its entirety. However, in the acts of St Francis compiled between 1327 and 1337 by the obscure friar Ugolino of Monte Santa Maria and an anonymous assistant [40] - a work that gained widespread influence through its Italian translation as Fioretti (little flowers) - the story acquired an explicitly geographical significance. In this version, at the end of the sermon, the birds rise into the air with marvellous song, and then, upon the sign of the cross made by Francis, divide into four parts, flying to the east, west, south, and north [41]. The image holds the tensions endemic to Franciscanism from its very inception. A merchant who to the dismay of his wealthy father renounces the pursuit of worldly goods in order to repair the Catholic Church, Francis himself is a figure at once transgressive and orthodox, singular and institutionalized.

There are parallels here again with the life of Majnun, another father-rejecter who enjoys a special bond with animals, constantly rescuing them from the snares of hunters, and whose wildness risks making him unrecognisable as a human being. In one account of his life, rebuked for not conforming to an established monastic order, whether Benedictine, Augustinian, or Cistercian, Francis declares that God called him through the path of humility, showed him the path of simplicity, and instructed him to be “a new madman (pazzus) in the world”; the friars should follow no other way [42].

The scene of Francis preaching to the birds can be readaccordingly as a moment of radical disorientation (majnun, pazzus), in which discourse with animals reveals the narrowness of preaching’s normal focus on humanity alone, in the process demonstrating the saint’s preternatural powers. At the same time, the theme of evangelism connects the preaching to the

birds with another image, one well known to Sheikh, who has cited it as a formative influence: Sassetta’s painting of St FrancispreachingbeforetheSultan, apanel of the altarpiece made for the church of San Francesco in Borgo San Sepulcro in 1437-44 (Figure 41). This episode too is a defining one for the Franciscans, emblematic of the revival of the apostolic mission to convert the infidel. Here again, where most Latin biographies struggled with the evident failure of the mission to convert anybody or - preferably - to secure Francis’s status as a Christian martyr, Ugolino and the Fioretti added spice to an otherwise bland narrative. In Bonaventure’s account, an unnerved Sultan declines Francis’s offer to walk through fire to prove the truth of Christianity [43]. But the alternative version introduces a seductive woman who meets Francis in a hostelry and invites him to perform a most wicked deed with her. “I accept; let’s go to bed,” he rather surprisingly replies - but it turns out that the bed he has in mind is fiery in a very literal sense. When Francis is neither burned nor even bronzed by an enormous blaze, the amazed temptress converts to Christianity on the spot, eventually followed by the Sultan himself [44]. Sassetta’s image in fact largely follows the more sober Latin accounts, but it departs from them in showing Francis actually stepping into the fire before the mostly alarmed Saracen audience-one of whom, young, beardless, bare-headed and probably male, looks at the saint with something approaching attraction. The aspect of Sassetta’s craft that particularly struck Sheikh was the painting’s clarity of colour in the absence of cast shadows, encapsulating a moment in Western art before the ideology of linear perspective “overran the intimate realism of this provincial terrain” [45].

Sheikh has identified continuities between this stage of European painting and Indian art, continuities he felt especially intensely on his return to India from Europe as a young man: “Somewhere the luminosity of Sassetta’s interiors overlapped with the procession of [the Muslim saint] Gebanshah Pir, and moving along the overused streets and repeatedly touched walls brought recollections of the streets of Siena Ambrogio [Lorenzetti] had painted” [46] The mappa mundi suite may, in the final analysis, be an argument about the plasticity of artistic traditions, and about the capacity of visual representation to comment upon and enter into the world. The point too is that faiths have no monopoly on art: that images, like narratives, may move between traditions. Precisely such fluidity characterises the iconography of Rama, who like Francis appears repeatedly through the mappa mundi suite. As narrated in the Ramayana, the golden deer he hunts is in fact the demon Marica, who has been sent by the scheming Ravana to tempt Rama away from his wife, Sita. Ultimately slain by Rama, Marica is able to impersonate the hero with his dying breath, calling out to Sita in the voice of her husband and setting off a course of events that leads to her abduction [47]. An epic of extraordinary popularity endlessly retold throughout Asia [48]. the Ramayana was notably translated and sumptuously illustrated at the Mughal court of Emperor Akbar (1556-1605). This cross-pollination of a Hindu narrative with Muslim artistic traditions can be seen as a critical act of accommodation, even coalescence between the two faiths. Subsequent depictions of the Ramayana - such as the deluxe seventeenth-century manuscript from the Pahari region (in the Punjab hills) which is the source of Sheikh’s image of Rama and Marica - translated Mughal style into a local idiom [49]. And it may be in this spirit of creative interaction that a Pahari dancer appears on many versions of Sheikh’s mappa mundi. This image, usually attributed to the Guler artist Pandit Seu and dated to c. 1730, is thought to represent the influence of Mughal miniatures on local Pahari artistic tradition (Figure 42) [50]. Seven men, apparently villagers, dance flamboyantly to the music of four musicians. In genre, composition, and in the gestures of the dancers, the image strongly resembles a contemporaneous painting, “Dancing devotees” (or “Dancing Dervishes”), in which a similar number of men, turbans flying, dance vigorously - perhaps too vigorously, since one has fallen, and another is being assisted from the fray. It has been noted that “Dancing devotees” seems to depict a convergence of faiths: the “dervishes” appear alongside a yogi and Hindus with caste marks on their foreheads [51]. Similarly, Pandit Seu’s depiction of the dancing villagers has been associated with Besakhi, a “bacchanalian” farmers’ festival unique in that it was celebrated alike by Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs [52]. Seen in this context, the lone Pahari dancer represents the ecstatic fusion of religious practice and the annihilation of sectarian identity. In local devotional practice, the image suggests, the “citadels of purism” in the form of the tenets of faith determined by elites (castes, priests, popes and other heads of churches) explode - or rather, they never existed.

Yet for all their shared, pan-religious resonances, this agglomeration of images within Sheikh’s mappa mundi suite leads to something unexpected and perhaps contradictory: the renunciation of the world. Is renunciation not a characteristic of Majnun, of Francis, of Mary Magdalene, all of whom go naked and live-in solitary exile? Does not Rama, noted for his asceticism, fatally leave his wife as a result of seeking the golden deer - a separation that in at least one major version of the Ramayana is never completely remedied? This renunciation of the world is not simply a matter of ascetic denial, however. For the renunciation is not so much of worldly objects as of the self. In Kabir’s verse, the loss of the “I” is a repeated theme.

Repeating “Thou, Thou,” I became Thou,

In me, no “I” remained:

Offering myself unto thy Name,

wherever I look, Thou art! [53]

Following bhakti principles, the body tends to be viewed as an obstacle to union with a supreme reality - a forest, according to one Kabirian “padh,” in which the grazing deer of lust must be shot by the mind [54]. Yet more than lust alone, it is the dissolution of self, the melting of the hailstone in the pond, that is the precondition of enlightenment:

It was a good thing, hail fell on the ground,

for it lost its selfhood:

Melting, it turned into water

and rolled down to the pond [55].

The Pahari dancer’s pose of ecstatic celebration surely refers to this moment ofdissolution. The devotee (of love, of God) seeks not just to remove him or herself from the world but to lose individual identity, to merge with another. The dervish is overpowered by ecstasy, responds with uncontrolled and unplanned movements, experiences a “passing away from self” [56] Where does this leave the world? Transient, impermanent: a temporary host to tumultuous passions and thwarted desire?

That understanding of the world and theselfmighthaveseemedwholly congenial to the makers of the Ebstorf map, who lived one or two generations after Francis and who were immediate contemporaries to the decoration of his church at Assisi. The attraction of an ascetic radicalism that yearned for self-annihilation was not so very far from their own orientations. Such impulses had existed within Christianity since its earliest days. They certainly would have comprehended the technique of quoting images on the surface of the mappa mundi, of importing faces, figures, and narratives to the world picture - because that was their technique, too. True, it is as an image rather than a description of the world that the Ebstorf map generates creative responses. It is within the category of art, not science, that it flourishes in the twenty-first century. But it flourishes: other eras and other articulations of faith have been added to the mappa mundi’s own self-conscious articulation of its descent from Roman geography, its union of Caesar’s survey with Christ’s ministry, death and resurrection. Perhaps then it is only in a restricted sense that the mappa mundi suite of Gulammohammed Sheikh falls outside the category of science. Ebstorf in Baroda offers a way of knowing the nature of things across borders, times, and faiths: a world new and old, alive with narrative, spinning towards the void.

Appendix: The Mappamundi Suite of Gulammohammed Sheikh

Mappamundi Suite 1 (“Dwarka”), 2003: Majnun with old woman; Kabir; Mary Madgdalene; Pahari dancer.

Mappamundi Suite 2 (“Looking for Layla”), 2003: Majnun with old woman; Kabir; Mary Madgdalene; Pahari dancer. Majnun and the old woman appear Throughout.

Mappamundi Suite 3 (“Marichika”), 2003: Majnun with old woman; Kabir; Mary Madgdalene; Pahari dancer. St Francis preaching to birds and Rama with bow chasing Marica appear throughout.

Mappamundi Suite 4 (“Marichika II”), 2003: Majnun with old woman; Kabir; Mary Madgdalene; Pahari dancer. Rama and St Francis appear throughout.

Mappamundi Suite 5 (“Lands Divided”), 2003: Majnun with old woman; Kabir; Mary Madgdalene; Pahari dancer. Rama and St Francis appear throughout.

Mappamundi Suite 6 (“Distant Destinations”), 2004: Majnun with old woman; Kabir; Mary Madgdalene; Pahari dancer. Rama and St Francis appear throughout.

Mappamundi Suite 7 (“Distant Destinations II”), 2004: Majnun with old woman; Kabir; Mary Madgdalene; Pahari dancer. Rama and St Francis appear throughout.

Mappamundi Suite 8 (“Magdalene and Majnun”), 2004. The map appears as a

disc on a bed of cloud. Mary Magdalene (left centre) and Majnun with old

woman (right centre).

Mappamundi Suite 9 (“Turmoil Within”), 2004. Map as a disc on a bed of cloud. Two demonic figures appear to the left and right of the frame.

Mapppamundi Suite 10 (“Magdalene and Majnun II”), 2004. Map as a disc on a bed of cloud. Mary Magdalene (left centre) and Majnun with old woman (right centre). The images of the Magdalene and Majnun and the old woman are replicated at the centre of the map.

Mappamundi Suite 11 (“Fortress”), 2003: World as a circular fortress. Kabir; St Francis.

Mappamundi Suite 12 (“Beyond Borders”), 2003: Rama; St Francis; demons.

Mappamundi Suite 13 (“Whose World”), 2004: The map appears without accompanying icons. Collage of numerous images and “quotations” within.

Mappamundi Suite 14 (“Troubled Terrains”), 2004: Map appears without accompanying icons. Collage of numerous images and “quotations” within


1. Jacky Klein, Grayson Perry (London, 2009), 222.

2. For outline biography see Gayatri Sinha, The Art of Gulammohammed Sheikh (New Deli, 2002), as well as the important collection Contemporary Art in Baroda, ed. Gulammohammed Sheikh (New Delhi, 1997), the reflections in Laetitia Zecchini, “‘More Than One World’: An Interview with Gulammohammed Sheikh,” Journal of Postcolonial Writing 53 (2017): 69-82, and most recently Chaitanya Sambrani, ed., At Home in the World: The Art and Life of Gulammohammed Sheikh (New York, 2019).

3. Gulammohammed Sheikh, “Among Several Cultures and Times,” in Contemporary Indian Tradition: Voices on Culture, Nature, and the Challenge of Change, ed. Carla M. Borden (Washington, DC, 1989), 107-20, at 115.

4. Sinha, Art of Gulammohammed Sheikh, 15.

5. “Among Several Cultures and Times,” 107.

6. Wilke estimates “altogether almost 2,345 text and image entries”: Ju¨rgen Wilke, Die Ebstorfer Weltkarte, 2 vols. (Bielefeld, 2001), 1: 11 (based on M. Warnke, “Die Ebstorfer Weltkarte: Der Computer als Medium fu¨r selbstbestimmtes Lernen,” Computer und Unterricht 5 (1992), 2); some inscriptions have been lost.

7. Useful discussions of the map include Wilke, Ebstorfer Weltkarte, vol. 1; Margriet Hoogvliet, Pictura et Scriptura: Textes, images et herméneutique des Mappae Mundi (XIIIe-XVIe siècles) (Turnhout, 2007), 45-50, 164-68, 183-96, 221-23; Patrick Gautier Dalché, “À propos de la mappemonde d’Ebstorf,” Médiévales 55 (2008): 163-70; Marcia Kupfer, “Reflections on the Ebstorf Map: Cartography, Theology and Dilectio Speculationis,” in Mapping Medieval Geographies: Cartography and Geographical Thought in the Latin West and Beyond, 300-1600, ed. Keith D. Lilley (Cambridge, 2013), 100-26.

8. Hartmut Kugler, Die Ebstorfer Weltkarte, 2 vols (Berlin, 2007), 1: 21 (7.1): “Mappa

dicitur forma. Inde mappa mundi id est forma mundi. Quam Julius Cesar missis legatis pertotius orbis amplitudinem primus instituit; regiones, provincias, insulas, civitates, syrtes, paludes, equora, montes, flumina quasi sub unius pagine visione coadunavit; que scilicet non parvam prestat legentibus utilitatem, viantibus directionem rerumque viarum gratissime speculacionis dilectionem.” This passage has been much discussed: see for example Uwe Ruberg, “Mappae mundi des Mittelalters im Zusammenwirken von Text und Bild,” in Text und Bild: Aspekte des Zusammenwirkens zweier Ku¨nste in Mittelalter und fru¨her Neuzeit, ed. Christel Meier and Uwe Ruberg (Wiesbaden, 1980), 530-85, at 565-67; Cornelia Herberichs, “ ... quasi sub unius pagine visione coadunavit: Zur Lesbarkeit der Ebstorfer Weltkarte,” in Text-Bild-Karte: Kartographien der Vormoderne, ed. Ju¨rg Glauser and Christian Kiening (Freiburg i.Br., 2007), 201-17:212-14; Kupfer, “Reflections on the Ebstorf Map.

9. As pointed out by Kugler, Ebstorfer Weltkarte, 2: 22.

10. Kugler, Ebstorfer Weltkarte, 2: 64-65; Wilke, Ebstorfer Weltkarte, 1: 185-91. Other

graves/tombs on the map include those of Darius, Phillip, Bartholomaus, and Thomas.

11. See Kugler, Ebstorfer Weltkarte, 2: 63-67 for a summary of possibilities. Wilke, Ebstorfer Weltkarte, raisedseriousproblemswiththe onceprevalent view that the map was originally produced by the chronicler Gervase of Tilbury in the first half of the thirteenth century, in order to accompany his Otia imperialia; for a tenacious, if unconvincing, defence of this thesis see Armin Wolf, “The Ebstorf Mappamundi and Gervase of Tilbury: The Controversy Revisited,” Imago Mundi 64 (2012): 1-27.

12. Kugler, Ebstorfer Weltkarte, 2: 29-30.

13. Kugler, Ebstorfer Weltkarte, 1: 18: Aquilo (“Sese Meotides stringent Aquilone paludes”); Septentrio: Goti (“Quos algore ferit Gotos Septentrio querit”); Vulturnus: Seres (“Gentes tectorum mulces, Vulturne, Serorum”); Subsolanus: Indii (“Explicat Eoos se Subsolanus ad Indos”), etc.

14. Georg Heinrich Wilhelm Blumenbach, “Beschreibung der ältesten bisher bekannten Landkarte aus dem Mittelalter, in Besitze des Klosters Ebstorf,” Vaterländisches Archiv fu¨r hannoverisch-braunschweigische Geschichte (1834): 2-21, at 2: “ein unbekannter Frevler.”

15. Ernst Sommerbrodt published photographs of the map in atlas form in 1891; the

lithographs of the map as a whole that were published by Konrad Miller in 1896 and again in 1900 differ in several ways from that of Sommerbrodt. Both editors freely invented in some sections: Kugler, Ebstorfer Weltkarte, 2: 3-9.

16. Dieter Brosius, “Die Ebstorfer Weltkarte von 1830 bis 1943: Ergänzungen zu ihrer

Überlieferungsgeschichte,” in Ein Weltbild vor Columbus, ed. Hartmut Kugler and Eckhard Michael (Weinheim, 1991), 23-40.

17. See Kugler, Ebstorfer Weltkarte, 1: 5-6.

18. See the appendix itemising the Mappamundi Suite at the conclusion of this chapter.

19. Australian Tapestry Workshop (formerly Victorian Tapestry Workshop), “Mappamundi”

(2004). The tapestry, which measures 3.025 x 3.6m, was made for display in the Sidney

Myer Asia Centre, University of Melbourne.

20. Other works by Sheikh from this period explicitly refer to mapping and/or the legends imported to the Mappamundi Suite: “Vasl: Meeting of Layla and Majnun,” 2000 (with Nilima Sheikh); “Looking for Layla/Siege/The Nation and the State,” 2000; “Mapping: the Nation and the State,” 2001; “Whose World is it Anyway!,” 2003; and “Tiranga Bharat I and II,” 2003. “Journeys,” one of four multiple-panelled kaavad (portable “shrines” used by itinerant Rajasthani storytellers), made by Sheikh in 2002-4, includes images from the Mappamundi Suite, as does the eight-foot-high shrine entitled “Kaavad: Home” made subsequently. Two further images, exhibited at the Kochi Biennale in 2014-15, supplement the original Mappamundi Suite, this time reorienting the central image of the Ebstorf map around the figures of Gandhi and Vasco da Gama. The introduction of these figures (and others, including Jesuit missionaries in Asia) falls outside the scope of the present study. Contextualisation of the Mappamundi Suite and its constituent images can be found in Peter Maddock, “The Imagini [sic] Mundi of Gulammohammed Sheikh: An Exercise in the Dedifferentiation of the Global and Local Ecumene,”

Third Text 20 (2006): 539-53 (though Maddock’s discussion of classical and medieval European maps must be treated with caution); Karin Zitzewitz, “Past Futures of Old Media: Gulammohammed Sheikh’s Kaavad: Traveling Shrine: Home,” Borderlines (Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East) (11 March 2016); and Marcia Kupfer, “Worlds Enmeshed,” in At Home in the World, ed. Sambrani (New York, 2019), 278-93. My thanks to Marcia Kupfer for sharing her article with me in advance of publication.

21. On the seventeenth-century Mughal miniature used by Sheikh see Prabhakar Machwe, Kabir (New Delhi, 1968), 16.

22. Jodh Singh, Kabir (Patiala, 1971); Charlotte Vaudeville, A Weaver Named Kabir Selected Verses With a Detailed Biographical and Historical Introduction (New Delhi, 1993),


23. The verse has not been subject to critical editing until relatively recently: see Vaudeville, A Weaver Named Kabir, 131-47, which significantly revises the position taken in her Kabir, vol. 1 (Oxford, 1974); for the argument that “Kabir” should be understood as a community of authors see Kabir: The Weaver’s Songs, trans. Vinay Dharwadker (London, 2003), 58-72. Recent editions are implicitly or explicitly critical of the influential selection made in One Hundred Poems of Kabir, trans. Rabindranath Tagore, with Evelyn Underhill (London, 1915; reprinted 1961).

24. Vaudeville, A Weaver Named Kabir, 219. Vaudeville glosses entering the world through a “different path” as entering in some way other than vaginal birth, and explains with regard to the next verse that Kabir was opposed to circumcision.

25. William J. Dwyer, Bhakti in Kabir (Patna, 1981); Pradeep Bandyopadhyay, “The Uses of Kabir: Missionary Writings and Civilisational Difference,” in Images of Kabir, ed. Monika Horstmann (New Delhi, 2002), 9-31; John Stratton Hawley, Three Bhakti Voices: Mirabai, Surdas, and Kabir in Their Time and Ours (Oxford, 2005), 267-332. On the significance of Kabir and bhakti for Sheikh see Zecchini, “‘More Than One World’,” 80.

26. Vaudeville, A Weaver Named Kabir, 154. The sacred thread is the janeu or upavita, worn by men belonging to the three higher varnas (i.e. castes or social classes); Sabda is word or sound, but also by extension poetic composition.

27. Nizami, The Story of Layla and Majnun, trans. R. Gelpke, E. Mattin and G. Hill

(Oxford, 1966), 44.

28. Michael W. Dols, Majnun: The Madman in Medieval Islamic Society, ed. Diana E.

Immisch (Oxford, 1992), esp. 314-53.

29. Ali Asghar Seyed-Gohrab, Layli and Majnun: Love, Madness and Mystic Longing in Nizami’s Epic Romance (Leiden, 2003), esp. 109-40 for questioning of Dols’s thesis; see also André Miquel and Percy Kemp, Majnûn et Laylâ: L’amour fou (Paris, 1984) on Nizami’s “Persianisation” of the legend.

30. In the version of the sixteenth-century Baghdadi poet Fuzuli, an old man leads another man who is pretending to be his prisoner; Majnun reproaches them, arguing that only the mad, not the sane, should be chained, and offering himself as a genuine madman. Fuzuli, Leyla and Mejnun, trans. Sofi Huri (London, 1970), 226-27 (ch. 44).

31. Layla and Majnun,trans. Gelpke, 104.

32. Layla and Majnun, trans. Gelpke, 104-5.

33. London, British Library, MS Or. 2265, fol. 157v. On iconography in Nizami manuscripts more generally see Adel T. Adamova, “The Hermitage Manuscript of Nizami’s Khamsa Dated 835/1431,” in Islamic Art 5 (2001): 53-132.

34. John 20:11-18.

35. See the discussion in Reimund Bieringer, “Touching Jesus? The Meaning of me mou háptou in ItsJohannineContext,” inToTouch orNot to Touch? Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Noli me tangere, ed. Reimund Bieringer, Karlijn Demasure and Barbara Baert (Leuven, 2013), 61-81.

36. Luke 7:38; John 11:2. On the iconography of Mary Magdalene see, inter alia, Eve Borsook, The Mural Painters of Tuscany: From Cimabue to Andrea del Sarto, 2nd ed (Oxford, 1980), 14-19; Moshe Barasch, Giotto and the Language of Gesture (Cambridge, 1987), 169- 82; Barbara Baert, Noli me tangere: Mary Magdalene: One Person, Many Images (Leuven, 2006); and Baert, Interspaces between Word, Gaze and Touch: The Bible and the Visual Medium in the Middle Ages (Leuven, 2011).

37. Baert, Interspaces, 20.

38. Katherine Ludwig Jansen, The Making of the Magdalen: Preaching and Popular Devotion

in the Later Middle Ages (Princeton, 2000), 138.

39. Bonaventura de Balneoregio, Legenda maior Sancti Francisci 12.3, in Fontes Franciscani,

ed. Enrico Menestò and Stefano Brufani (Assisi, 1995), 881-82.

40. For discussion of authorship and date see Enrico Menestò’s introduction to the Actus Beati Francisci et Sociorum Eius, in Fontes Franciscani, ed. Menestò and Brufani, 2075-


41. Actus Beati Francisci et Sociorum Eius 16.30-33, ed. Menestò and Brufani, 2122; I

Fioretti di San Francesco, ed. Luigina Morini (Milan, 1979), 109 (ch. 16)

42. Compilatio Assisiensis ch. 18, in Fontes Franciscani, ed. Menestò and Brufani, 1497-

98: “Et dixit Dominus michi, quod volebat, quod ego essem unus novellus pazzus in mundo;

et noluit nos ducere Deus per aliam viam, quam per istam scientiam.”

43. Legenda maior 9.8, ed. Menestò and Brufani, 860-61.

44. Actus Beati Francisci et Sociorum Eius 27.8-24, ed. Menestò and Brufani 2143-45; I

Fioretti, ed. Morini, 130-31 (ch. 24): “Io accetto, andiamo a letto.”

45. “Among Several Cultures and Times,” 111. In fact Sassetta appears to have deployed perspective techniques, albeit not entirely consistently, in the Borgo San Sepolcro altarpiece:

see Koichi Toyama, “Light and Shadow in Sassetta: The Stigmatization of Saint Francis and

the Sermons of Bernardino da Siena”; and Roberto Bellucci and Cecilia Frosinini, “‘Cum suis depitis proportionibus’: Perspective and Geometry in Sassetta’s Borgo San Sepulcro Altarpiece,” in Sassetta: The Borgo San Sepolcro Altarpiece, ed. Machtelt Israëls, 2 vols (Leiden, 2009), respectively 1: 305-15; 1: 359-69.

46. “Among Several Cultures and Times,” 115-16.

47. Aranyakanda, ed. Robert P. Goldman, trans. Sheldon I. Pollock, vol. 3 of The Ramayana of Valmiki: An Epic of Ancient India, 6 vols (Princeton, 1991), 169-90.

48. Paula Richman, ed., Many Ramayanas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia (Berkeley, 1991); Vidya Dehejia, ed., The Legend of Rama: Artistic Visions (Bombay, 1994); Gauri Parimoo Krishnan, ed., Ramayana in Focus: Visual and Performing Arts of Asia (Singapore, 2010).

49. Bahu-Shangri Ramayana, Kulu. National Museum, New Delhi. Sheikh has celebrated this image for its dissolution of the boundary between viewer and narrative. Gulammohammed Sheikh, “Visualising the Ramayana: Reading Pictures,” in Indian Painting: Themes, Histories, Interpretations: Essays in Honour of B.N. Goswamy, ed. Mahesh Sharma and Padma Kaimal (Ahmedabad, 2013), 79-91, at 90: “Entranced by the mirages of Marica materialising and disappearing, the viewer is left sharing the golden space of the pursuer.”

50. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Acc. no. M.77.19.24. W.G. Archer, Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills: A Survey and History of Pahari Miniature Painting, 2 vols (New Delhi and London, 1973), 1: 148-49 (where the image is not attributed to Pandit Seu); B.N. Goswamy and Eberhard Fischer, Pahari Masters: Court Painters of Northern India (Oxford, 1992), 226 (where it is attributed to Pandit Seu).

51. For comparison of the two images see Archer, Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills, 1: 148; F.S. Aijazuddin, Pahari Paintings and Sikh Portraits in the Lahore Museum (Karachi and London, 1977), 26; Goswamy and Fischer, Pahari Masters, 226; Roy C. Craven, Jr, “Manaku: A Guler Painter,” and Vishwa Chander Ohri, “Pandit Seu and His Sons Manaku and Nainsukh,” in Painters of the Pahari Schools, ed. Vishwa Chander Ohri and Roy C. Craven, Jr (Mumbai, 1998), respectively 46-67; 149-66; esp. 59, 164-65. Sheikh adapts “Dancing

Dervishes” in one of his kaavad, “Musings and Miscellanies,” which also includes the same

images of Kabir and Majnun and the old lady quoted in the Mappamundi Suite; similarly, the

“shrine” entitled “Ayodhya” is centred around the imagery of Rama’s chase of the deer.

52. Archer, Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills, 1: 148, citing the description in

Prakash Tandon’s autobiography, Punjabi Century: 1857-1947 (Berkeley, 1968), 57-58.

53. Vaudeville, A Weaver Named Kabir, 173.

54. Dwyer, Bhakti in Kabir, 151-53.

55. Vaudeville, A Weaver Named Kabir, 178-79.

56. Ahmet T. Karamustafa, God’s Unruly Friends: Dervish Groups in the Islamic Later Middle Period 1200-1550 (Salt Lake City, 1994; republished Oxford, 2006), 31.

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