Centre for Community Knowledge


Ambedkar University Delhi


The Exhibition TIME, SPACE, DIRECTION showcases the evolution of cartographic representations of the Indian Ocean Region and divergences therein from antiquity to the pre-modern age. Although there are grounds to suppose that the subcontinent produced maps for various purposes for millennia before the advent of the Portuguese, virtually little in the way of earlier cartography has been visible, even in comparison with those of the neighbouring regions of the Gulf, Arabian Sea and East Asia. Given the region’s contributions to astronomy, geometry, mathematical sciences,this remains a matter for wonder. The objective of the exhibition is, therefore, to expand the canon of cartographic images of the Indian Ocean region. Unlike conventional cartographic histories that look at map-making as a largely European invention, with its mathematically constructed ‘scientific’ maps that culminate in the ‘scale’ maps of the modern age, the current exhibition defines maps as “graphic representations that facilitate a spatial understanding of things, concepts, processes or events in the human world.” 

Another objective is to show, visually, the transmission and further development of knowledge between the Asian continent and the Mediterranean Region in connection with traditional mapmaking practices. The third objective is to demonstrate the alternative methods which were developed in the Indian Ocean world to map Time, Space and Direction, so as to enable travellers on land and sea to reach a variety of chosen destinations. In order to understand how the world and its oceans were defined across cultures in antiquity and pre-modern times, this Exhibition includes alternative cartographies, from star charts and cosmological maps to unique combinations of the physical and cosmological along with imagined maps.  By seeing how the maps were made and how they were used, their iconographic and artistic projections, the Exhibition brings together genres of South Asian maps that have received virtually little notice. By bringing together the different perspectives of mapmaking into one collection, this Exhibition attempts to project the cartographic traditions of South Asia in an area hitherto dominated by Western scholarship.

Time, Space, Direction

Cartographies of the Indian Ocean Region