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, August 25, 2015
In the permanent collection of the Department of Islamic Art are two miniature paintings from Avadh (Oudh), India. Avadh, located in the northeastern province of Uttar Pradesh, was once ruled by the Nawabs of Avadh (1722–1856), a group that gained autonomy during the disintegration of the Mughal Empire. Quickly, the Nawabs and their courtiers had to contend with the rise of the East India Company. After a decisive victory in the Battle of Buxar in 1764, the East India Company used Avadh as an effective buffer state against encroaching powers such as the Marathas and the Rohillas.
Posted: Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Now on display in gallery 464 are two Indian textile fragments from the late seventeenth century that feature a repeating pattern of poppy flowers. Due to the fragility of the textile's border and the need for extensive conservation work, this installation marks the first time these textiles have been on display since they entered the Metropolitan Museum's collection in 1982.
Posted: Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Interns in the Museum Seminar (MuSe) Program come to the Met every summer to gain practical experience and learn about critical issues surrounding museum practice and interpretation. They work closely with supervisors in departments across the Museum on special or ongoing projects, while also researching and leading public tours across the galleries. This summer, recent college graduates Alexandra McKeever (Smith College) and Kate Justement (Auburn University) worked in the Department of Islamic Art, where they partnered with curators to gain some hands-on experience with collection objects and archives.
Posted: Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Coins are usually bestowed with a lot of nuisance value. Think of all those copper pennies collecting at the bottoms of our purses and pockets, adding weight to our wallets and being collected in fountains all over New York City! We don't usually think of the great travel capability of coins, yet as some of the smallest portable objects produced by humankind, they quietly traverse the globe every day on planes, trains, and automobiles.
Posted: Monday, August 3, 2015
The exhibition Liturgical Textiles of the Post-Byzantine World, now on view through November 1, 2015, presents a selection of notable liturgical vestments that communicate the continuing prestige of the Orthodox Church and its clergy in the centuries following the fifteenth-century fall of Byzantine Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks. From a strictly theological viewpoint, vestments are hardly a necessity for Christian worship. Liturgical scholars are largely in agreement that for the first several centuries of Christianity's existence, its clergy officiated at services wearing the normal "street dress" of the Roman world. Only gradually did these items of clothing take on special significance as liturgical vestments, to be worn only during worship.
Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2015
As Sultans of Deccan India, 1500–1700: Opulence and Fantasy came to a close this past weekend, I I took some time to examine a genre of paintings that has particular resonance for me and my work at the Met: ragamala paintings. Translated as "garland of ragas," ragamala paintings represent a fusion of music, poetry, and painting, providing one of the most compelling examples of the interconnectedness of art forms in the Deccan. Particularly at the Met, these works get to the essence of what we hope to do in our public programming: create an experience for visitors that generates connections between the visual, performing, and literary arts.
Posted: Monday, July 20, 2015
As a recent college graduate and current summer intern in the Metropolitan Museum's Department of Islamic Art, the past weeks have flown by, filled with new and exciting experiences, projects, and opportunities. Among these, I have been fortunate enough to observe some of the curation and the full installation of the exhibition Pattern, Color, Light: Architectural Ornament in the Near East (500–1000), now on view through October 25 in The Hagop Kevorkian Fund Special Exhibitions Gallery (gallery 458). This exhibition highlights architectural ornament from Near Eastern monuments, which exist today in fragmented form from numerous walls, ceilings, and floors. These fragments and their stylistic motifs crossed rival empires and illuminate common aesthetic trends of the period from 500 to 1000 A.D. The Department of Islamic Art started working on this exhibition about nine months ago, but by witnessing the final step of the process—the installation—I have a new appreciation and understanding of what it takes to coordinate a production such as this.
Posted: Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Posted: Tuesday, July 7, 2015
When the Department of Islamic Art prepared for the opening of Sultans of Deccan India, 1500–1700: Opulence and Fantasy, on view through July 26, there was a great deal of movement in the permanent galleries as certain objects from the collection traveled to their temporary home in gallery 199. Gallery 463, which showcases art from Mughal South Asia and later South Asia, was particularly affected by these shifts in location, and some fascinating new items have gone on display in this gallery.
Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Among the many surprises in the Deccan area of south-central India is its complex, multicultural society. Persian, Dutch, French, British, Danish, Portuguese, Central Asian, and African peoples all made their way through the region seeking trade and conquest, with some ultimately settling and leaving generations of descendants. Unlike the African movement to other places during this period (the Americas, for example), in the socially mobile culture of the Deccan, Africans migrants were able to rise to the rank of nobility.