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THE HUMAN FIGURE IN ISLAMIC ART

June 15, 2018 Comments off

The David Collection

THE HUMAN FIGURE IN ISLAMIC ART, The David Collection, Copenhagen
davidmus.dk

This issue has always interested and puzzled me.

There is still uncertainty with regard to attitudes about figurative art in Islamic culture. This exhibit in Denmark – now closed – tackled the delicate issue, together with a great catalogue. An article in May 2018 ASIAN ART by JULIET HIGHET and titled THE HUMAN FIGURE IN ISLAMIC ART explains what we know and what we do not know about figurative art. She reports that there is no explicit passage in the Qur’an forbidding figurative depictions of humans. It is the written traditions that are more critical on this subject; and three dimensional portrayals seem to be more objectionable than paintings because sculptures and reliefs express a greater reality of a divinely created world. We find human figures in paintings and we find and we see the Prophet’s partially hidden face together with his winged steed Buraq – often – with a female face. So what are we to believe? It might help to keep in perspective the world of politics during the early times of Islam, the Islamic revolt against Christian Byzantine symbolism, and the influence of Persian portraiture painters. Great art patrons like Akhbar and his son Jahangir and his grandson Shah Jahan all encouraged local and imported artists in their own traditions portraying more human figures. And it helped me to keep in mind that religious art and human figures in churches and temples played a great public role whereas figurative art in Islamic art was often developed for and in the private realm.

The author Juliet Highet is a writer, journalist and photographer who writes and publishes on a wide range of Arab, South Asian, East Asian and African cultures. One of her books is: Frankincense: Oman’s Gift to the World. Got to order this one….

Cheers,
Elisabeth

human figure in islamic art

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A JOURNEY INTO IRAQI KURDISTAN

February 27, 2018 Leave a comment

kurdistan
Photo by Mark Edward Harris, Cooling off beneath the Gali Begg waterfall

Off to Erbil or Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan – where civilization goes back 5,000 years, where one finds one of the oldest Christian monasteries, Mar Mattai clinging to the side of a mountain where some 7, 000 monks once lived during the ninth century; where the Persian King Darius III “met” Alexander the Great, -a hauntingly beautiful countryside of high mountains and low valleys, by plane one hour and 40 minutes from Amman to Arbil – what is there not to like!!!! Tour operators are counting on more and more tourists if and when the war winds down.

Next time I am in Austria …….not that far away any more……

Read the article in NYT Travel section February 4th, page one and four.

Cheers,

Elisabeth

Categories: Middle East, Uncategorized

THE SOUTHERN GATES OF ARABIA, A JOURNEY IN THE HADHRAMAUT

February 17, 2018 Leave a comment

southern gates of arabia

I seem to turn more and more to adventure, travel and explorer books- for the body, the mind and the soul.

FREYA STARK

by Caroline Moorehead
1985

THE SOUTHERN GATES OF ARABIA, A JOURNEY IN THE HADHRAMAUT

by Freya Stark with introduction by Jane Fletcher
1936/2001

The two books by and about Freya Stark born in Paris 1893 I am reading again. Freya Stark fearlessly traveled alone to Persia, Iraq, sailed down the Red Sea following the ancient frankincense trail, and followed in the steps of Alexander the Great. She was an explorer, a historian, an archeologist and a writer in between working in places like Baghdad and sleeping in the tents of Bedouins. She was made Dame of the British Empire in 1972.

Where should we go next?

Cheers,

Elisabeth

 

THE NINE DOMES MOSQUE in Afghanistan

February 5, 2018 Leave a comment

9 mosque

 

A 9th century mosque in northern Afghanistan in Balkh province ca. 12 miles west of Mazar-i-Sharif. Discovered or re-discovered in 1960 by an American archaeologist but not excavated and inspected until 2006. We know that Genghis Khan and many earthquakes destroyed many monuments in Balkh province.

Carbon dating and historical sources suggest that the mosque could have been built as early as 794 – Julio Sarmiento-Bendezu, director of the French Archeological Delegation in Afghanistan, the leader of the excavations said that this early date means that the mosque of the (Persian) Abbasid Empire has been influenced by Afghanistan and not the other way around. The mosque would have once been studded with lapis lazuli and turquoise.

Would it not be nice if we could visit the mosque and travel through Afghanistan again as some of us were able to do before the wars started.

Cheers,

Elisabeth

CLAREMONT RUG COMPANY IN OAKLAND

February 5, 2018 Leave a comment

claremont rug company

 

https://www.claremontrug.com/50-best-of-their-type-2017/

CLAREMONT RUG COMPANY IN OAKLAND

This is an exhibition temporarily displayed on the website of Claremont Rug Company showing the top quality carpets they have sold during the previous year.

A total of fifty carpets dating from ca. 1800 to ca. 1875 in a variety of designs of Persian and Caucasian styles. While most carpets would be for billionaire buyers I get pleasure from seeing and admiring and learning about the best of the best. And I am happy to see an increase of antique Oriental rugs used as wall art and space dividers. “Regular” rug enthusiasts like me have always used very modest rugs as cover for my display desk, on a table and on the wall like my old Heriz – a baptismal present from my grandmother.

Cheers,

Elisabeth

THREE EXHIBITS AT THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS IN HOUSTON

January 22, 2018 Leave a comment

MODERNISM ON THE GANGES: RAGHUBIR SINGH PHOTOGRAPHS

https://www.mfah.org/exhibitions/modernism-on-the-ganges-raghubir-singh-photographs

March 3 – June 3, 2018

Raghubir Singh, born in Jaipur (1942-1999) lived in Asia and Europe and often returned to his native India. In 90 images and over a thirty year period, Singh who was influenced by Cartier-Bresson, photographed often with a hand-held camera in color everyday life and festivals. One of my favorite is the one showing the Professional Lunch Distributor or Dhabadwallah with his tiffin boxes.

singh photographs

BESTOWING BEAUTY:MASTERPIECES FROM PERSIAN LANDS

https://www.mfah.org/exhibitions/bestowing-beauty-masterpieces-persian-lands

Through February 11, 2018

Comprising some 100 works of art from the 6th to the 19th century on view to the public for the first time, from the Hossein Afshar Collection, one of the most important collections of Persian art in private hands……..does anybody have information about Hossein Afshar?

persian art

 

PEACOCK IN THE DESERT: THE ROYAL ARTS OF JODHPUR, INDIA

https://www.mfah.org/exhibitions/peacock-in-desert-royal-arts-jodhpur-india

March 4 – August 19, 2018

Masterpieces never before seen outside the palace walls of the kingdom of Marwar-Jodhpur in Rajasthan, covering four centuries of sumptuous jewels, arms and armor, intricately carved furnishings, a monumental 17th century court tent, paintings and textiles – all together some 250 objects from Indian courtly life together with large scale photo murals will be shown.

Exhibit runs concurrent with Raghubir Singh’s photo exhibit it.

peacock in the desert

PERSIAN LIME STONE RELIEF FRAGMENT FROM PERSEPOLIS SEIZED BY MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY FROM A DEALER EXHIBITING AT TEFAF NEW YORK IN OCTOBER 2017. VALUED AT $ 1.2mil.

Dealers and clients have almost become used to accusations of cultural property thefts – but something that has been in the public eye and displayed at a museum for some sixty years?

Read the article in the Antiques Trade Gazette.

https://www.antiquestradegazette.com/news/2017/persian-limestone-sculpture-seized-by-police-from-antiquities-dealer-at-tefaf-new-york/

recovered-artifact-montreal-museum-fine-arts

Cheers,
Elisabeth