Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Religious Studies

First Advisor

Jamal J. Elias

Abstract

Islamic talismanic shirts are fragile and highly ornamented textiles that feature Qur'anic text, magic squares, and other complex design elements common to talismanic objects of smaller, more portable form. The way in which these garments invoke the human body and thus differ from other talismans is of primary importance in understanding their creation and potential use. This study is based on data from over 80 Islamic talismanic shirts that is used to support a fuller articulation of the sartorial systems of robing common to the Ottoman and South Asian worlds within which they circulated. Two of these systems, the khila' (robe of honor) and the khirqa (the Sufi cloak) provide important insights into how garments become the physical markers of bodily interactions. By reinforcing the relationship between textiles and the human body within these systems, it becomes clear that Islamic talismanic shirts amplify the protective function of Qur'anic text through preserving the fleeting traces of human contact.

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