En effet, à l’initiative du Professeur Lotika Varadarajan, et en partenariat avec le Département des Cartes et Plans de la Bibliothèque nationale de France, la partie de l’exposition consacrée à l’océan Indien a été déclinée sous la forme de reproductions de certaines cartes de la Bibliothèque nationale, intégrées à un propos plus large sur la perception et les pratiques du temps, de l’espace et de l’orientation à travers les siècles. La cartographie occidentale et islamique est ainsi confrontée à d’autres modes de figuration et de transmission de connaissances sur l’Inde et l’océan Indien, à partir d’une documentation provenant des collections indiennes, peu connue et souvent inédite. Le projet Median, né d’une réflexion sur les transferts culturels entre la Méditerranée et l’Océan Indien, trouve dans cet événement un écho et un prolongement particulièrement pertinents.
Ci-dessous l’argumentaire en anglais de l’exposition :
Time, Space, Direction – Diversities in Cognitive Approach
Maps, Charts and Approximations from the Subcontinent and the Indian Ocean Region
Dates – Opening on February 15, 2014 till February 26, 2014
Venue – Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay Block, India International Centre, Top Floor , Gallery.
Time, Space, Direction is a cartographic exhibition of the Indian Ocean region and the subcontinent, using digital prints of rare and unique maps and charts, along with artefacts, and interactive digital exhibits.
The objective of the exhibition is to expand the canon of cartographic images of this region. Unlike conventional cartographic histories that look at map-making as a largely European invention, with its mathematically constructed ‘scientific’ maps that culminate in the ‘scale’ maps of the modern age, the current exhibition defines maps as “graphic representations that facilitate a spatial understanding of things, concepts, processes or events in the human world.”(Harley and Woodward, History of Cartography, 1987) Another objective is to show visually the transmission of knowledge between the Asian continent and the Mediterranean Region in connection with traditional mapmaking practices. The third objective is to demonstrate the alternative methods which were developed in the Indian Ocean world, and among these South Asia played a prominent role, to map Time, Space and Direction, to reach a variety of chosen destinations.
In order to understand how the world and its oceans were defined across cultures in antiquity and pre-modern times, this exhibition includes within it alternative cartographies, from star maps and cosmological maps to combinations of the physical and cosmological to imagined maps. By seeing how the maps were made and how they were used, their iconographic and artistic projections, the exhibition brings together entire genres of South Asian maps that have received virtually little notice. This is particularly true for works of an essentially cosmographic nature, and were it not for the efforts of lesser known scholars, they would have remained unknown to modern scholarship, although these loom much larger in importance throughout the Indic cultural realm than in the pre-modern West.
By combining cartographic practices with the instruments of early sea faring and navigation, it is possible to see how transmission of navigation and cartographic knowledge moved from the East to the West, before returning as the so-called western scientific tradition. The artefacts and interactive exhibits demonstrate how this happened over time, and show how an external and uncomprehending viewpoint of a South Asian tradition not only made it distant, but gave it a correspondingly low status in modern cartographic development.
The sizable collection of these maps are from the Bibliothèque Nationale, France, from their exhibition, “The Golden Age of Nautical Charts – When Europeans discovered the rest of the world” held between October 23, 2012 and January 27, 2013 in Paris. To these we have added Indian sources which include digitised prints from the collections of various museums around the country apart from individual scholars. By bringing together the different perspectives of mapmaking into one collection, this Exhibition attempts to project the cartographic tradition of South Asia in an area hitherto dominated by Western scholarship.
Associated talks and workshop
Apart from the exhibits, there will be interactive displays and presentation of traditional navigational artefacts. A series of talks on the theme are also being organised, along with a half-day workshop on the final day of the Exhibition. The schedule for this will be available shortly.
Dr Lotika Varadarajan
- Indian Council for Historical Research.
- Centre for Community Knowledge, Ambedkar University, Delhi.
- Bibliothèque Nationale, France (Catherine Hofmann, Emmanuelle Vagnon).
- India International Centre.
- Larah Rai, Independent Research Scholar
- Cheryl Jacob, PhD Scholar, Ambedkar University Delhi.
- Shambwaditya Ghosh, Independent Research Scholar
- Nilza Angmo, Independent Research Scholar