Initial Thoughts on the Enlightenment Gallery in BM- Gina Maskell

Visually, the Enlightenment Gallery is very much an imitation of how I imagined a study during the Enlightenment to look. It was filled to the brim with both artifacts from all over the world and also the tool and innovations that allowed these discoveries. When I first walked in, I entered into a room lined with telescopes, astrolabes, globes, and maps– the tools being stored. There were many along the walls but the key tools were in cases in the center, not quite “stand alones” but I guess “collection stand alones”. These were the introduction to the exhibit. It was an introduction literally to the enlightenment. They needed the tools before they could do the exploration. The two wings on either side were rife with artifacts: books, encyclopedias, manuscripts, drawings, fossils, pots, vases, figurines, statues, brooches, pins, etc, overfilling the shelves that weren’t occupied by the tools.But it wasn’t unorganized. There was a rhythm, a classification of all of the artifacts. They were from all corners of the world and from many times but they were arranged thematically, like a library catalogue, classified by subject: art, religion, writing, language– all aspects of culture were covered. The Enlightenment was the beginning of the study of other cultures. All of these objects were insights into the art, the religions of these newly discovered places and newly discovered pasts. It was the beginning of anthropological studies.

Mughal India: Babur’s Garden by Gina Maskell

Mughal India: Babur's Garden

Babur was the founder of the Mughal dynasty and he spoke and wrote in a Chagatay Turkish. After his rule the official language of the Mughal Empire was Persian. Babur’s memoir was a prominent piece of literature in the Mughal Empire and although it was written in Turkish, his grandson, Akbar had it translated into Persian.

This is a scene depicting the “Garden of Loyalty” being laid out. The Garden was made in 1504, while Babur was in power and the official language was Chatagay Turkish. I think that the writing in the top left corner is Turkish, but I cannot distinguish the languages apart. Although the official language was Turkish during Babur’s rule and Persian during the later empire:Turkish, Persian, Arabic, and Urdu were all also used.

I thought the garden was kind of mystical and beautiful and it is a symbol of sorts for how Babur was seen to India. He was from Uzbekistan and he was foreign and mystical but brought beauty through literature, art, and architecture to this land. The garden itself brings beauty to the land and also sort of establishes his place in India by permanently instating this beauty.

A Response to Rumi’s “An Awkward Comparison” by Gina Maskell

“An Awkward Comparison”

This physical world has no two things alike.
Every comparison is awkwardly rough.
You can put a lion next to a man,
but the placing is hazardous to both.
Say the body is like this lamp.
It has to have a wick and oil. Sleep and food.
If it doesn’t get those, it will die,
and it’s always burning those up, trying to die.
But where is the sun in this comparison?
It rises, and the lamp’s light
mixes with the day.
Oneness,
which is the reality, cannot be understood
with lamp and sun images. The blurring
of a plural into a unity is wrong.
No image can describe
what of our fathers and mothers,
our grandfathers and grandmothers, remains.
Language does not touch the one
who lives in each of us.

I started my drawing with the ribbons curled up and looping around each other in the center in order to signify this inner knowledge that we cannot access so easily. Plus the way I am imagining inner knowledge is as coiled DNA, everyone has DNA, it is the necessary code work for our bodies just as this inner knowledge is the necessary code work for our spiritual achievement. The coils of knowledge are surrounded by a fortress wall protecting our knowledge, nothing can get in and only small bits can get out. There are small ladders leading out of the fortress that send theses small bits of knowledge in all directions, to all of our senses and to our mind. Our senses don’t quite understand how to respond to these messages.

I understood from the poem that our perception is so limited by our senses, by sight, sound, smell, taste, and feel. We rely too heavily on them and they are not always accurate. We have to be able to listen to the knowledge that is inherent within, even if it is not a full set of knowledge at times.