The Atala Mosque: Between polity and culture in medieval Jaunpur

Anna J Sloan, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation examines the role of architectural patronage, production, and documentation in the formulation of a new polity under the Sharqī sultans of Jaunpur (796–884/1394–1479). At the center of this inquiry is the Atala Mosque, the first monumental structure built under independent Sharqī rule, and the prototype for mosques subsequently built in the capital city of Jaunpur and the broader Sharqī realm. Although the mosque has been construed throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as the product of materials plundered from a Hindu temple formerly occupying its site, this work presents archaeological and epigraphic evidence to indicate not only that the mosque was constructed from new materials, but also that its originality and craftsmanship were central to the articulation of a new Sharqī identity. This work combines a close inspection of the formal, symbolic, and artisanal formation of the new Sharqī mosque with a detailed analysis of the inscriptional evidence surviving from the period of transition from Tughluq to Sharqī hegemony in the Gangetic Plains region. The presentation and analysis of previously undocumented sites and inscriptions in the region, not only from the era of Sharqī rule, but also from the previous century, exposes the dialectic relationship between culture and polity in a period of dramatic historical change. It suggests that in two highly constructed languages—the image and the word—the transition from one polity to the next was revealed in conscious deviations from standard rhetorical strategies. Through the investigation of multiple facets of architectural production, this study offers new insight into the mechanisms by which the altered political landscape of post-Tughluq India was manifest in the emergence of distinctive regional cultures.

Subject Area

Art History|Architecture|Middle Ages|History

Recommended Citation

Sloan, Anna J, "The Atala Mosque: Between polity and culture in medieval Jaunpur" (2001). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3031724.