"Coco-de-Mer Kashkuls, Materiality, and Oceanic Journeys"
Peyvand Firouzeh, University of Sydney
Part of the Silsila Fall 2023 Program
The coco-de-mer nutshell, native to the islands of Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, is an object of various mobilities. This talk follows the real and imagined journeys of the coco-de-mer from miraculous mythological journeys to those driven by natural sea currents, as well as the trans-oceanic trade networks of the early modern world, in order to focus on the adoption of the nutshells for kashkuls (beggars' bowls), an attribute of Sufis. Shifting the focus of Eurocentric histories of the nutshell, I explore how the materiality and metaphorical meanings of the coconut shell collided with those of the kashkul. The coalescence of coco-de-mer and kashkul, which swayed between buoyant, drifting objects, bulky containers, and monumental metaphors, brings allegories of wine and drinking vessels, boats and sea travel, light and mosque imagery into dialogue with monsoon winds and broader material histories of the Indian Ocean.
Peyvand Firouzeh is Lecturer in Islamic Art History at the University of Sydney, and a fellow of the Australian Research Council (DECRA 2023-2026). She is a trained architect and art historian specializing in medieval and early modern art and architecture from the Islamic world, with research interests in arts of Sufism, the interaction of image, space, and text, Indian Ocean studies, and the mobility of artistic and intellectual networks within and beyond the Persianate world. Her latest project, for which she received a Getty Scholar Grant in 2022-2023, explores the real and imagined migrations of the coco-de-mer shell, native to the islands of Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, with a focus on their use as Sufis’ begging bowls.
This event will take place as a live webinar at 6:30pm EDT (New York time). To register as an online attendee, please use the following link:
Only registered attendees will be able to access this event via zoom.