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Islamic Art

Damascus Room

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.

Digital Underground

MediaLab Intern Spotlight: Exploring Algorithms in Islamic Art through Augmented Reality

Betty Quinn, Former MediaLab Intern, Digital Media; and Sarah Wever, Former MediaLab Intern, Digital Media

Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Department of Islamic Art's fifteen galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia are some of the most visually striking in the entire Museum. Located on the second floor of the North Wing, visitors are greeted by elaborate patterns carved and painted on many objects—from ceramic bowls to tapestries and arches. Tiles tessellate in repeating patterns across the walls, and in one room the ceiling is covered with intricately carved geometric patterns. With a collection of over twelve thousand objects, these galleries illustrate the fascinating diversity of the culture of Islam.

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Of Note

Exploring The Sacred Lute

Ken Moore, Frederick P. Rose Curator in Charge, Department of Musical Instruments

Posted: Monday, August 11, 2014

The first time I heard the evocative sounds and exquisite poetry of classic Persian music, I was amazed by its simple and elegant beauty. I later learned the complexity and philosophical principals behind the music, and about the different genres and ancient regional traditions that still endure. After a trip to Iran to visit scholars, composers, instrument makers, and musicians, a friend introduced me to the music and life of the exceptional musician, jurist, and philosopher Nour Ali Elahi (1895–1974), also known as Ostad Elahi. The resulting new exhibition, The Sacred Lute: The Art of Ostad Elahi, examines Ostad's transformation of the art of tanbūr—his modifications to the instrument, its playing technique, and the elevation of its repertoire—as well as his innovative approach to the quest for self-knowledge and his personal transformation from a classical mystic to a modern jurist.

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Now at the Met

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month at the Met

Donna Williams, Chief Audience Development Officer

Posted: Friday, May 23, 2014

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. This month affords us the opportunity to reflect on the various achievements and traditions of so many of our neighbors, friends, and family members. The Metropolitan's permanent collection and current exhibitions offer a calm and reflective setting for appreciating the art from this part of the world.

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Teen Blog

Infinite Repetition in Nonrepeating Patterns

Chantal Stein, College Intern

Posted: Monday, May 12, 2014

The Islamic world is famous for its stunning tilework: lavish blue and turquoise ceramic tiles featuring an almost infinite array of geometric patterns. This tilework has adorned the walls of mosques, tombs, and the homes of the wealthy, enhancing the beauty of these spaces, for centuries.

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Teen Blog

An International Take on Textiles

Brooke, TAG Member; and Tiffany, TAG Member

Posted: Monday, November 18, 2013

Though we tend to associate globalization with the modern, Western-dominated world of capital goods, in reality it began long ago with textiles. The current exhibition Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500–1800 is the first major exhibition to explore this international exchange of design ideas through the medium of textiles.

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Now at the Met

Syrian Art at the Met

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO

Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The situation in Syria is both grave and deeply troubling. In the midst of such striking human suffering, all other concerns can easily get lost in the shadows. But we must believe that there will be a time when peace returns to Syria, and when that moment arrives, it would be tragic to find that most of the country's heritage had been lost.

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Now at the Met

Art of the Islamic World: A New Resource for Teachers

Claire Moore, Assistant Museum Educator

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012

The importance of the Islamic world within current geopolitics and the global context in which we live makes the study of these regions essential in K–12 classrooms around the world.

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Teen Blog

The Spirit Within

Cheeky Swagger (a.k.a. Dan), TAG Member; Ethan, TAG Member; and Tiffany, TAG Member

Posted: Monday, October 22, 2012

Walking through the dimly lit halls of the Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia inspires a true sense of wonder. "Where did this all come from?" one might ask. "This doesn't seem like the Islamic world I know today." In many ways, it isn't.

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Now at the Met

Displaying Islamic Art at the Metropolitan: A Retrospective Look

Rebecca Lindsey, Visiting Committee Member, Department of Musical Instruments and Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Metropolitan Museum patron interested in Islamic art in the 1880s would have found little of relevance on display.1 By 1910, however, the situation was very much improved, and in the century since then, the Islamic art displays at the Museum have become the largest in the Western world. This essay briefly describes the evolution of the display of Islamic art at the Metropolitan Museum—from the first largely visual exhibitions to the present scholarly organization by style, material, and civilization.

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Now at the Met

Connecting with Islamic Art at the Metropolitan

Deniz Beyazit, Assistant Curator, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Islamic art, architecture, and cultural traditions are closely related to other artistic movements around the world. In conjunction with the opening of the new Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia, which house works from the Met's Department of Islamic Art, I'd like to take this opportunity to highlight related objects from the Museum's other curatorial departments.

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