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Like Ink on the Water: Examining a Medieval Genealogical Document from

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Duration: 0:20:23 | Added: 18 Jan 2022
Part of the International conference on Maharashtra in September 2021 - Durga Kale, University of Calgary, Canada

The coastal villages in Maharashtra have maintained a porous existence with the cultural influence flowing from the mainland (desh) and from the regions connected by maritime trade of the medieval period (c. 900-1700 CE). The genealogical records of the medieval period dominated the literary and social inroads of establishing connectedness in various spheres of activity.

The genealogical records preserved in Muslim community along the Konkan coast highlight a network of circulation within the greater Indian Ocean trade network. This paper focuses on a genealogical manuscript produced during the medieval period that highlights geological and spiritual networks in Maharashtra and beyond. Highlighting the flow of Sufi spiritual traditions, the text anchors the family in Maharashtra as a part of a diasporic nexus of the 13th century CE.

My paper proposes an interdisciplinary analysis using oral histories, documented history through literary survey and a cursory study of material culture in Konkan to situate the genealogical document. One of three such documents revealed in my recent field-study in Konkan, I propose metanarratives of the time that may have fostered a specific literary production such as the genealogical text in discussion.
Although my paper does not delve into the dating or material analysis of the document itself, the networks presented in this Arabic document purport the idea of a connected Muslim identity for individuals from Egypt, Arabia and Swahili coast, who made their home in medieval Konkan.

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