The Museum's collection of Islamic art ranges in date from the seventh to the nineteenth century. Its nearly twelve thousand objects reflect the great diversity and range of the cultural traditions of Islam, with works from as far westward as Spain and Morocco and as far eastward as Central Asia and India. Comprising sacred and secular objects, the collection reveals the mutual influence of artistic practices such as calligraphy, and the exchange of motifs such as vegetal ornament (the arabesque) and geometric patterning in both realms.
Posted: Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Since the opening of the exhibition Sultans of Deccan India, 1500–1700: Opulence and Fantasy, on view through July 26, I have been visiting the galleries frequently to examine the fabulous works on display and to take advantage of the magnifying glasses available for use by visitors to really look closely at the artworks. During a recent trip, one Golconda painting in particular, Portrait of a Golden Prince, from the collection of the Musée Guimet, Paris, invited such close inspection.
Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Last year as I helped a curator in the Department of Islamic Art prepare for the exhibition Bazm and Razm: Feast and Fight in Persian Art, I thought about what information we would be able to provide about the paintings and objects on display, and how much we would have to leave out. Iran has an incredibly deep and complex literary tradition that draws influence from a range of sources, including epic poetry, romances, and mystical works. While it would be impossible to give a complete introduction to the literature of Iran, this exhibition provided an opportunity to highlight some key works and familiarize visitors with these stories.
Posted: Tuesday, May 12, 2015
I am sometimes met with raised eyebrows when I tell friends that part of what I do here at the Met is research the permanent collection of the Department of Islamic Art. After all, the collection is world famous, and in the century since its formation numerous experts have dedicated time and energy to its care. What more is there to research? One of the joys of working with complex artifacts, however, is that there is often more to be discovered, even if the object is well known and has been carefully documented and described in the past. New ways of looking at art emerge as the tools that curators and conservators have at their disposal become increasingly sophisticated, and, because the field of art history itself is always evolving, the questions that specialists ask of objects also change over time.
Posted: Friday, May 8, 2015
In celebration of the 2015 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards exhibition, now on view in the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education, the Teen Blog will feature guest posts by Scholastic Gold Key Award writers from New York City through the close of the exhibition on May 17. This week's blogger, Ayesha, was awarded a Gold Key for her personal essay/memoir, "The White Light."
Posted: Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Though the recently opened exhibition Sultans of Deccan India, 1500–1700: Opulence and Fantasy focuses mainly on the sultans of south-central India, art history reveals to us that the Deccan world was also notable for its strong female characters. Two stand out among them as particularly remarkable: Chand Bibi, the sixteenth-century queen of Ahmadnagar; and Mah Laqa Bai Chanda, the eighteenth-century poetess of Hyderabad.
Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2015
While growing up, I often visited the Astor Chinese Garden Court as a way of wrapping up my days at the Met. The gallery's cool light and water provided a setting for me to wind down and reflect on what was always a stimulating, art-filled itinerary. Now as a staff member in the Museum's Department of Islamic Art, I was reminded of those early visits the first time I entered the Patti Cadby Birch Court, in 2011. Though much smaller than the Astor Court, the gallery's light and water stirred that same sense of tranquility in me.
Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2015
This weekend's Sunday at the Met will explore topics related to the recently opened exhibition Sultans of Deccan India, 1500–1700: Opulence and Fantasy. The afternoon program will feature a much-anticipated lecture on the city of Hyderabad by historian and author William Dalrymple, as well as an original dance performance, Veiled Moon, by Preeti Vasudevan and her dance company, Thresh, inspired by the life of the Deccan poetess Mah Laqa Bai Chanda.
Posted: Monday, April 20, 2015
RumiNations, the new blog of the Department of Islamic Art, is starting at a very auspicious moment. Today, April 20, the special exhibition Sultans of Deccan India, 1500–1700: Opulence and Fantasy will open. The brainchild of Curator Navina Haidar, this exhibition has been many years in the making—long enough to have involved former Research Associate Marika Sardar, now curator of Asian Art at the San Diego Museum of Art, and Courtney Stewart, presently a senior research assistant here at the Met. This exhibition comes three and a half years after the reopening of the department's permanent galleries, fifteen rooms (450–464) devoted to the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia. While the galleries continue to attract large numbers of visitors, the Department of Islamic Art and the Education Department have collaborated on a range of special activities in the midst of the collection, from musical concerts in the Moroccan Court to drop-in drawing sessions in the Later Iran gallery.
Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2015
The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp is a tenth-century epic by the Persian poet Firdausi, chronicling Iran's mythical history before the founding of Islam. The Metropolitan Museum of Art's publication is a facsimile of the most lavishly illustrated version of the text, produced for the Safavid Shah Tahmasp, who ruled Iran from 1524 to 1576.
Posted: Wednesday, February 11, 2015
The Department of Islamic Art has over three thousand ceramic objects in its collection, with perhaps the largest corpus of the collection acquired from the Museum's excavations in Nishapur, Iran, during the mid-twentieth century. While the department maintains a fine collection of Safavid and Ottoman ceramics, ceramic work from south Asia is not as well represented. Among these examples of south Asian ceramics, my favorite is an eighteenth-century tile from Multan, in present-day Pakistan (pictured above). In terms of both material and technique, the tile is typical of ceramics from this part of south Asia, as are three similar objects in the collection—an eighteenth-century dish and two late fifteenth-century tiles (2008.461 and 2008.462).