Learning About the Gunpowder Empires Through Art & Artifacts

Artifacts from the Gunpowder Empires (Safavid, Ottoman, and Mughal) demonstrate a great convergence of peoples, economies, and cultures during the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Empowered by new military technologies, these mighty empires spread over large swaths of territory, drawing together disparate groups and traditions. In this assignment, you will view artifacts from this time of convergence, and search for themes and patterns common to this historical period.

Gunpowder Empires: Art & Artifact Scavenger Hunt


Locate at least five items relating to the module themes listed below. Complete a row in the chart for each. All of the items you choose to analyze must be related to the Gunpowder Empires. You may find artifacts by visiting local museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago. You may also find artifacts online the reputable resources such as the Art Institute of Chicago website.

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Provide pictures and links where appropriate.

Title of Art/Artifact Date/Location of origin (when and where was it created?) Describe the object – what does it look like, what stands out? How does this object tie into module themes? (choose all that apply from the list below)

List of module themes:

❏ Technology and/or warfare

❏ Religion (images or references)

❏ Buddhism

❏ Islam

❏ Taoism

❏ Geometric Patterns or Mathematical Shapes (such as seven- or eleven- pointed stars)

❏ Arabesque Design (complicated scrolling patterns with leaves, vines, or flowers)

❏ Calligraphy (elaborate handwriting)

❏ “Exotic” materials from trade (such as ivory, silk, jade, coffee)

❏ Cultural exchange (for example, an image from one region that included a “foreign” or “exotic” element)

❏ Luxury or wealth of the Gunpowder Empires

❏ Islamic architecture (columns, minarets, scrolling, arches)

❏ Dragon imagery (Asian)

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