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 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.
Posted: Tuesday, June 30, 2015
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Deccan Plateau of south-central India was a nexus of international trade and home to a series of important, highly cultured Muslim kingdoms. With cultural connections to Iran, Turkey, eastern Africa, and Europe, Deccani art is particularly celebrated for its unmistakable, otherworldly character. This beautifully illustrated catalogue discusses two hundred of the finest Deccan works and includes extraordinary new photographs of the lush landscapes of the Deccan lands.
Posted: Tuesday, June 23, 2015
This album contains ten dazzling pages of calligraphic samples written by Shaikh Hamdullah ibn Mustafa Dede, one of the most celebrated Turkish calligraphers. Designed and assembled with great sensitivity to the creation of directional visual energy, the album's complex borders of marbled and dyed papers honor, wrap around, and frame magnificently fluid calligraphic samples. Each page is constructed with a structurally similar layout: large, horizontally placed thuluth or muhaqqaq script serve as headings, while lines of a smaller naskh script are set below, running either horizontally or diagonally. On some pages, small floral medallions are painted in gold, each petal containing green, blue, and red dots, with organic glazes of orange-red pin pricks impressed in clusters of three.
Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2015
My time as a volunteer in the Department of Islamic Art here at the Met has allowed me to reflect on my experience studying abroad last year in China and gain new perspective on the relationship between cultures that I had not previously considered. While in China, I had the opportunity to visit Kunming, the capital city of the southern Yunnan province. Dubbed the "eternal spring city," most days in Kunming consisted of cloudless blue skies and a light breeze, perfect conditions for exploring the city. While walking around the center of Kunming, I happened to see, among the sea of concrete and glass buildings, a bright-green dome topped with a steel crescent moon. Intrigued, I wove my way through alleyways until I came to the green-domed building. Much to my surprise, the structure was a mosque, bustling with people leaving midday prayer.