Material Cultures


The contributions of the Afro-Indian community especially the Sidis towards the material cultures and urban planning in India is a lesser-known history. The Sidis of Janjira who wielded great military power have built fortresses, mosques, mausoleums, shrines and other civic structures that speak a lot about their historical rule. While the fortress at Janjira is one of the important naval and defense fortress complex constructed by the Sidis, there are other impressive built structures in the state of Maharashtra that are witnesses to the Sidi rule and architectural legacy. Like in Maharashtra, in the state of Gujarat the nature of Sidi contributions towards the visual and religious cultures of the Indian subcontinent can be understood through mosques dedicated to Sidi patrons. The Sidi Sayed Mosque in Ahmedabad with its tapered arches and window panels with intricate filigree work is a symbolic monument in Ahmedabad. Likewise, the exquisitely carved pillars that are part of the remnants of the Sidi Bashir’s mosque is another testament that showcases architectural contributions of the Sidi generals, statesmen, and soldiers. While these architectural structures, reveal histories of African contributions, modest memorial shrines dedicated to African saints and martyrs in Gujarat serve as platforms were memories of African presence are preserved and recounted through worship traditions and ritual practices performed at these scared sites.