While In Rome…

// October 3rd, 2007 // Blog

Or in this case, South Kensington.

Gosh, i missed London. Not smelly East London, where i live. Real London… the beautiful architecture, the museums, the universities, the posh folks, the suits, the random tourists… I missed it all! So, after i submitted my thesis (i've written that phrase so many times today, in numerous e-mails and text messages!), i popped into the Victoria & Albert Museum on my way home, to check out their Islamic Middle Eastern art exhibit.

I apologize for the poor photo quality. It was an unplanned visit, so i only had my camera phone, and add to that low lighting = noisy, grainy pics… but maybe it'll inspire you to see the real thing for yourself! Entry to the museum is free, alhamdulillah. Except for my foreign readers, who may have to pay for the airfare to come over to London. {wink}

Examples of Arabic calligraphy.

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Part of a glazed tile display.

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A giant Qur'an. Seriously, it was MASSIVE!

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A glass lamp, from a Sultan's tomb.

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A marble wuḍūʼ basin.

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Close up of the basin. Can anyone translate the Arabic?

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A Turkish, ceramic basin.

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A Turkish serving table.

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This vase was categorized as “secular” art. It has the Arabic word for “glory” written on it several times.

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One of the saddest things about the exhibit was that so much of it came from parts of the Middle East that are experiencing immense turmoil now. At the time these pieces were created, places like Iraq were at the center of great Islamic dynasties, producing the finest craftsmen, and scholars. It breaks your heart to be reminded of such historic beauty, when the reality of the present day is so incredibly ugly… may Allāh help them all.

4 Responses to “While In Rome…”

  1. AnonyMouse says:

    Ooohhhhh, purdy! Masha’Allah… I’ve always loved art from the Muslim world, and even though I know absolutely nothing about dates and techniques, I just love looking at pictures (‘cuz we never get to see the real thing here).
    My aunt bought me an awesome book a while back, called “Islam: Art and Architecture.” It’s huge, has a kazillion pictures of art and architecture (duh!) from various regions and periods of Islamic history, and has relatively easy-to-understand essays that are quite interesting to read.
    Some of the most amazing pictures are those of the gorgeous art to be found within the masaajid of the Muslim world – absolutely breathtaking!

  2. Well, hello! Thank God we can finally comment! I feel like I was gagging with the “no-comment” policy.

    FINALLY!

    Expectations:

    1) COMMENT ON MY BLOG
    2) TALK TO ME
    3) MAKE ME LAUGH
    4) Tell me I’m beautiful :D

  3. Umm Esa says:

    I saw the same exhibition back in August . It was nice to see them concentrating on something positive for once. Rather then muslims are terrorists sorta biz.

  4. iMuslim says:

    Mousey: “Some of the most amazing pictures are those of the gorgeous art to be found within the masaajid of the Muslim world – absolutely breathtaking!”

    It’s true, mashallah… but then, sometimes i feel a bit bad when i see such extravagance in a masjid. I feel it kinda detracts from the simplicity of worship. I understand that both the patrons and the artists were trying to worship Allah through their art, but i wonder is it right to have that within the masjid itself, or is it better to leave to it to the outside, or in other buildings? I’ve never really appreciated the ornate decorations of Catholic churches either. They often have gold this and that dripping from the ceilings and walls. Makes me feel sad cos that money could’ve gone on the congregation, and other worthy projects…

    Umm Esa: Welcome sis. :) The Islamic Middle East gallery is quite old, methinks, because i went to see it several years ago. Then they closed it for a few years to refurbish. I think it’s been re-opened for a while. I think they had an even bigger exhibition as some point – a special one. I missed that though.

    Some of the art was actually European! It was displayed as cross-over pieces, to illustrate the cultural exchange between the Middle East and Europe. They also had some pieces made by Iranian artists, but in a Chinese style.

    What would be really interesting is to see Islamic art from all parts of the world, not just the ME. What about China itself? That’s a pretty ancient Islamic culture, considering Islam reached China around the 1st century AH, i believe. Then there are other S.Asian cultures, Russia/S.U… etc.

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