When Worlds Elide: Mughal Texts on Iranian Kingship, Religion, and Culture in the Sixteenth Century
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Mughal texts demonstrate a fundamental shift in official attitudes towards contemporaneous Iran from 1526 to 1605. While these texts initially presented a submissive imperial position, they later depicted the Mughals as superior to their Safavid neighbours. In the spheres of kingship and religion, Mughal texts promoted the padshahs as more just and tolerant. This aura of dynastic superiority also became a dominant feature of Mughal cultural production, where the Mughals boasted their status as generous patrons. The mass emigration of Safavid-Iranian figures (shaykhs, Sufis, and artists) to the Mughal court and the heterogeneous nature of Mughal imperial identity in the South Asian environment also contributed to this superior self-idealization. In this process, the Mughals gradually understood themselves as the ideological centre of the notion of the Persian cosmopolis, a concept bound by the use of a shared language and the mobility of texts and learned bodies across space.