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Earthy Art - Heavenly Beauty. The Art of Islam
June, 13 - September, 9, 2000

The exhibition located in the Nicholas Hall of the Winter Palace represents nearly 350 works of art from different parts of Islamic world - from Spain to the Northern India - enveloping thirteen centuries - from the 7th to 19th centuries.
The State Hermitage Museum possesses one of the world richest collections of Moslem Oriental art and follows the general system of displaying the exhibits in the Museum according to geographical (countries and cultural regions) and chronological order. Thus the exhibits on each display represent Medieval art of the given countries and nations in connection with the traditions of previous epochs that defined specific features of their culture.
185 exhibits from the collection of the State Hermitage Museum constitute the basis of the exhibition. Most of them are examples of toreutics (the Hermitage possesses the world richest collection of Moslem bronze), ceramics (showing the wide variety of the Museum collection of ceramics, Iranian especially), jewellery articles from Mughal India (the best collection in the world), paintings, fabrics, carpets and so on.
The private collection of Nasser D. Khalili in London offered for display 107 beautifully preserved copies of Koran of the 10th - 19th centuries from different countries, examples of glass articles, ceramics, carved wood, miniatures, carpets and fabrics. 30 exhibits from the Benaki Museum in Athens include rare examples of carved wooden articles, golden jewellry, painted ceramics, stelae.
The Manuscript House in Sana (Yemen) sent for this exhibition 19 of earliest copies of Koran (early 8th century) found in 1973 during the restoration of the Grand Mosque in Sana. Some masterpieces were sent by the British Museum ( 6 exhibits all in all: rare faience and toreutics articles); the Metropolitan Museum (3 exhibits: golden necklace of the c. 15th century from Granada, painted faience bowl of the late 12 - early 13th centuries and Mamluk bronze brazier inlaid with silver of the 13th century).
The exhibition is meant for the general public and thus it concentrates on cultural and historical concepts and images that are free of didactic system of pointing out the exact time, dynasty or region of the exhibit. This approach gave birth to an interesting idea of creating limited spaces within each of which a certain sphere of Moslem way of life is reflected as full as possible. They are - Mosque, Pilgrimage, Word, Koran, Islamic mysticism, Palace, Mausoleum, Garden and Paradise.

 


Aquamanile in the form of a bird
Iraq (?)
Larger view


Fish
Benaki Museum, Athens
Larger view


Qalamkar
Iran
Larger view


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Related Links:
The official homepage of the State Hermitage Museum: www.hermitagemuseum.org

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