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Anselm Kiefer

Ich halte alle Indien in meiner Hand (I hold all the Indias in my hand)

gouache and pencil on photograph
1995
34,3 x 59 cm / 13 1/2 x 23 1/4 in.
inscribed 'Ich halte alle Indien in meiner Hand' in the centre of the image

From the Middle Ages on, it was believed that there was a legendary Christian Prester John, reportedly a descendant of one of the Three Magi, presiding over a realm full of riches and strange creatures. It was said that his dominion extended over the "Three Indias." At that time, that referred to India Major, from Malabar through the East Indies, India Minor, from Malabar to Sind, and India Tertia, the east coast of Africa including Ethiopia. This tripartite division conforms to the contemporary Muslim concept of Hind, Sind and Zanj with the last India referring specifically to the area around present-day coastal Tanzania. The words "I hold all Indias in my hand" were, according to oral history, spoken by the Portuguese Vasco da Gama, who found the passage to India. King Manuel conferred on him the title "Almirante do Mar das Índias" (Admiral of the Sea of the Indias). This series is about impressions from foreign countries. The standing figure in the picture is the artist himself.

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