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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.

RumiNations

Exploring Hyderabad with Author and Historian William Dalrymple

Courtney A. Stewart, Senior Research Assistant, Department of Islamic Art

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.

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RumiNations

Welcome to RumiNations

Sheila Canby, Patti Cadby Birch Curator in Charge, Department of Islamic Art

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.

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Now at the Met

Celebrating Nauruz with The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

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.

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Now at the Met

Using Color to Link Cultures: An Eighteenth-Century Islamic Tile in Context

Fatima Quraishi, 2014–15 Hagop Kevorkian Fellow, Department of Islamic Art

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).

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Teen Blog

Intern Insights: Summer 2014

Ana, Former Summer High School Intern

Posted: Friday, February 6, 2015

Last summer I was a high school intern at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Working at the Met was a dream for me. Each morning I took the train from Brooklyn to the Museum Mile, with my Met ID hanging around my neck, excited about the day ahead. I've been visiting the Met for years with my family and friends, and had always wanted to be a part of it.

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Now at the Met

Ragas in Review: An Evening of North Indian Music

Julia Rooney, Administrative Assistant, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Moroccan Court Music Series, which began in April 2014, saw its last performance of the year on November 21, with a program of Hindustani music. Planned to coincide with the recently closed exhibition Treasures from India: Jewels from the Al-Thani Collection, the evening featured Neel Murgai on sitar and Shivalik Ghoshal on tabla, playing a program of north Indian ragas.

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Now at the Met

Jewelry and Power: Notes from a Friday Focus Lecture

Helen D. Goldenberg, Associate for Administration, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On Friday, January 9, the Department of Islamic Art, in conjunction with the Education Department, hosted guest lecturer Michael Spink to speak at a Friday Focus event. Spink's lecture, Jewelry and Power: Gold and Gems in Mughal India, illuminated the history of jewelry in the Mughal Empire and gave background information on the breathtaking gems that were displayed in the recently closed exhibition Treasures from India: Jewels from the Al-Thani Collection.

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Now at the Met

Rites of Passage in the Indian Jewelry Tradition

Courtney A. Stewart, Senior Research Assistant, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2015

In this painting, the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan sits with his young son Dara Shikoh, holding a red gem in his right hand and a small tray of colored gems in his left. This intergenerational portrait illustrates the important Indian tradition of transferring gems among family members. Jewels are among the most important possessions in an estate and, when inherited, they are usually remounted or set by the recipient.

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Now at the Met

Taking Stock of the Department of Islamic Art's 2014 Acquisitions

Julia Cohen, Research Assistant, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2015

One of my regular tasks as a research assistant is to enter information about new acquisitions into the collections management database of the Department of Islamic Art. Slower-paced than some of my other responsibilities, it gives me an opportunity to study the works that the department has obtained in the past year. And during the holidays, when our offices were a bit quieter, I had the chance to really take a look at our latest acquisitions.

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Now at the Met

Arabic at the Met: Adventures in Translation from alif to ya'

Matt Saba, Mellon Curatorial Fellow, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Friday, January 2, 2015

Recent visitors to the Met may have noticed more Arabic throughout the building. Magnificent specimens of Arabic calligraphy have always been on display in our galleries, along with examples in Persian and Ottoman Turkish, but the Museum has recently taken on the task of translating educational materials into Modern Standard Arabic (MSA, or al-Lugha al-'Arabiyya al-Fusha in Arabic), a language spoken by hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

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