Mahdieh Khajeh Piri



Mahdieh Khajeh Piri is a landscape architect and scholar specializing in Persian language and art. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Art History at the University of Vienna under the supervision of Professor Markus Ritter. Her research interests focus on studying the influence of Persian culture on heritage, garden traditions, and the art of the Indian subcontinent.
She holds a Master's degree in Landscape Architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Delhi. Mahdieh works as a consultant and Researcher with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in New Delhi and Hyderabad, India. In this capacity, she conducts extensive research on historical manuscripts, miniatures, and calligraphy, particularly focusing on Mughal emperors and literary figures. Her responsibilities include interpreting and translating key objects and texts, contributing to permanent exhibitions. Notably, Mahdieh's research at the state museum in Hyderabad led to the identification of 30 manuscripts for preservation and permanent display at the Qutb Shahi Interpretation Centre. For the ongoing conservation and landscape restoration effort at the Qutb Shahi Heritage Park, she conducts research on grave inscriptions found within the necropolis, studying their artistic and historical significance, encompassing over 170 graves.
She served as a Research and Curatorial Associate with the Noor International Microfilm Centre at the Iran Cultural Centre in New Delhi. There, she played a key role in researching, photographing, and cataloging over 2,000 historical manuscripts in Persian, Urdu, and Arabic. Her curatorial experience includes exhibitions on Islamic Calligraphy and the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi.
Mahdieh's earlier experience as a Landscape Architect with Shaheer Associates in New Delhi involved working on significant historic landscape projects such as Sunder Nursery and the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial. Additionally, she served as a guest Managing Editor at Manzar Landscape Journal in Tehran, where she curated a special issue on Nature in Urban Landscapes.

Research Interest:
My research interests are focused on exploring the influence of Persian culture on the heritage, garden traditions, and art of the Indian subcontinent. I am particularly interested in creating a dialogue between visual and textual representations and historiography. To achieve this, I conduct field research on historic gardens and work extensively with Persian, Urdu, and Arabic texts, including miniature paintings. 

Current Research Project:
Garden Traditions in the Early Modern Deccan Sultanates: A Comparative Analysis with Safavid Iran

The proposed study is centered on reframing the history of Garden culture in the peninsular plateau of India, or simply the Deccan. Since relatively few garden sites have survived, the proposed study will be based on a thorough study of historical Persian texts, Persian and Dakhani poetry, material culture like paintings and textiles, study and documentation of significant sites of the Deccan as well as comparisons with Iranian garden traditions.
The chronological limits of this study are defined between the 15th & 17th centuries i.e from the establishment of the Deccani Sultanates at Bijapur, Golconda, amongst others, and the eventual assimilation of the kingdom of Golconda in the Mughal empire. During these two centuries Shia Islam was the main political and cultural power in the Deccan and there were close links with Iran, defined by extensive human migration and cultural exchange with Iran. By including Iran in this study, rather than viewing the history of early modern South Asia as a fringe sidebar, Deccan will be positioned as a transregional nexus.