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Hydroaesthetics in the Little Ice Age: Theology, Artistic Cultures and Environmental Transformation in Early Modern Braj, c. 1560–70


Examining the visual tactics of framing flowing water in landscape painting and riparian architecture in Braj, a pilgrimage centre in North India where the god Krishna is believed to have spent his youth, the essay foregrounds a new conception of hydroaesthetics that emerged with the onset of the Little Ice Age (c. 1550–1850), a climatic period marked by catastrophic droughts and famines in South Asia. An engagement with the hydroaesthetics of beholding the river Yamuna's passage through Braj, the essay argues, brings to the forefront a reciprocal relationship between artistic practices based on a theological aesthetic of venerating the natural environment and ecological calamities. In doing so, the essay attempts to delineate a possible methodology for an ecological art history.

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