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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

A Final Note

Brandie Ratliff, Research Associate, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Over the past few weeks, Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition was dismantled, and we've begun wrapping up work on the exhibition: thanking our generous sponsors, lenders, and catalogue authors, preparing reports on the exhibition, tidying files, and reinstalling Met objects in our permanent galleries. The exhibition was a tremendous success.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Ivory Panels

Annie Labatt, 2012 Chester Dale Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, July 6, 2012

In the interview with Pete Dandridge, we learned about the challenges involved in treating and displaying the delicate ivory panels from al-Humayma. The thoughtful and considerate conservation work on these pieces allows us to see amazing remnants of a large Abbasid residence located in the Hisma desert of southern Jordan. They also represent—through the figures' wardrobes and poses—a point of contact between multiple cultures.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Interview with the Registrar

Annie Labatt, 2012 Chester Dale Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, July 5, 2012

As registrar, Aileen Chuk organizes the arrival, installation, and return of loaned works of art for exhibitions at the Museum. I recently spoke with her about the preparations for Byzantium and Islam.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Figurines in the Mediterranean

Alzahraa K. Ahmed, Intern, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, July 5, 2012

In many cases, burials have served as windows onto a past culture's daily life. Children's graves are no exception. Although attracting less archaeological attention than other finds, they provide abundant material that informs our understanding of the diverse activities and habits of people during the Greco-Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic eras.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Mosaics as History: The Near East from Late Antiquity to Islam by G. W. Bowersock

Annie Labatt, 2012 Chester Dale Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The large Jordanian floor mosaics are some of the most provocative objects in the exhibition, a fact made evident in the lively talks at the recent symposium "Floor Mosaics in the Late Antique Mediterranean," which took place at the Met on May 11, 2012.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

The Message: The Story of Islam, Directed by
Mustapha al-'Aqqad

Alzahraa K. Ahmed, Intern, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"In the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful, from Muhammad the Messenger of God to Heraclius the Emperor of Byzantium, greetings to him who is the follower of righteous guidance. I bid you to hear the divine call. I am the Messenger of God to the people. Accept Islam for your salvation."

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Interview with the Objects Conservator

Annie Labatt, 2012 Chester Dale Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Pete Dandridge, Conservator and Administrator, The Sherman Fairchild Center for Objects Conservation, about his work preparing for the exhibition.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Byzantine, adj.: The Evolution of a Word

Grace Labatt, Editor, Voyageur Press

Posted: Monday, July 2, 2012

Perhaps because it's an election year, the word "byzantine" pops up quite a bit in the news these days, although it's not used to refer to an artistic style or a period of history.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Early Islamic Textiles: Inscribed Garments

Nazanin Hedayat Munroe, Artist and Art Historian

Posted: Monday, July 2, 2012

The tradition of inscribed textiles in the Islamic world dates to the passing of the Prophet Muhammad (632 A.D.), whose spiritual and political authority was transferred through the donning of his mantle. The newly formed Muslim state experienced a number of shifts in the political arena. New allegiances were often represented by epigraphic bands on textiles, particularly garments.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza by Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole

Yitzchak Schwartz, Intern, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Monday, July 2, 2012

Reams of scholarship have been written on the contents of the Cairo Geniza, but in Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza, authors Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole explore how the 1896 discovery itself changed the world of Jewish scholarship.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Saint Bart's and Hildreth Meière

Annie Labatt, 2012 Chester Dale Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012

Like Saint Anselm's, which I discussed in an earlier post, Saint Bartholomew's Church in New York City (often known as "St. Bart's") offers an example of early twentieth-century appreciation of the Byzantine aesthetic.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

The Persian-Style Riding Coat

Nazanin Hedayat Munroe, Artist and Art Historian

Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012

While garment styles in the Late Antique world were simple in form—consisting of the T-shaped tunic for men and children, and loose, draped garments, such as the gunna and palla, for women—Persian garments of the late Sasanian period (220–650) reflect more complex tailoring and forms.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Judaism During the Byzantine Period

Yitzchak Schwartz, Intern, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012

The historical period explored in Byzantium and Islam was deeply transformative for Judaism. In this post, I'll give a brief summary of Judaism during this transitional time, focusing on some important trends showcased in the exhibition.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Interview with the Research Associate

Annie Labatt, 2012 Chester Dale Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012

Brandie Ratliff, the research associate for Byzantium and Islam, joined me recently for a chat about her participation in the show. She worked closely with the curator Dr. Helen Evans on many aspects of the exhibition and catalogue.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

The Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels by Janet Martin Soskice

Annie Labatt, 2012 Chester Dale Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012

In The Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels, Janet Martin Soskice tells the story of twin sisters Agnes and Margaret Smith, born in Scotland in 1843, who made a discovery that would have implications for the future of biblical studies.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Scripts in Development

Hannah Korn, Collections Management Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012

The range of manuscripts included in Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition suggests the importance of book production in the cultures found throughout the exhibition. Paleography (the study of handwriting) provides insight into the development of script and writing during this time.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Christian Imagery on Silk Textiles: The Annunciation Silk

Nazanin Hedayat Munroe, Artist and Art Historian

Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The red Annunciation silk depicts the seated Virgin dressed in royal purple, receiving a message from the angel Gabriel, encircled by floral medallions referencing a jeweled garden. The fragment is believed to be part of the same textile as a Nativity scene that survives at the Vatican.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Fashion and Style in Byzantium

Nazanin Hedayat Munroe, Artist and Art Historian

Posted: Monday, June 25, 2012

In a post last week, Annie discussed how certain forms of dress distinguished cultural groups during the Byzantine era, but what about fashion and style?

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Dress Styles in the Mosaics of San Vitale

Nazanin Hedayat Munroe, Artist and Art Historian

Posted: Monday, June 25, 2012

The pinnacle of early imperial Byzantine dress is best seen in the mosaics of Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora at the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy (ca. 547 A.D.). Facing opposite one another in the apse of the church, each mosaic depicts the main figure bedecked in finery and accompanied by a retinue.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Woven Silk

Nazanin Hedayat Munroe, Artist and Art Historian

Posted: Monday, June 25, 2012

Silk textiles were produced in Byzantium long before local weavers had figured out how to acquire and produce silk from silkworms. For centuries, the Chinese held a monopoly on the raw materials required to create these highly desired textiles.

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About this Blog

This blog accompanied the special exhibition Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition, on view March 14–July 8, 2012.