Saturday, November 25, 2017

'Islam Loves Art: Objects in The al-Sabah Collection' Exhibit Opening at Amricani Cultural Centre on 25th February 2018

Turban brooches and rings. Pieces are from the breathtaking al Sabah Collection of Mughul art.

The al Sabah collection began to take form in 1975 when Sheikh Nasser Sabah al Ahmed al Sabah purchased the collection’s first object. It was a mid 14th century enameled glass bottle he found in a London art gallery. At that time, the collection started out as a hobby he and his wife Sheikha Hussah Sabah al Salem al Sabah were pursuing — it soon grew to a full-fledged collection worthy of a place in a museum. In 1983, as the collection was growing, it had made its way from Sheikh Nasser’s private residence to its new location at the Kuwait National Museum. The building became known as Dar al Athar al Islamiyyah (DAI), where Sheikha Hussah became the organization’s director general. The collection has now grown to more than 20,000 objects representing different chronological and geographical points from the Islamic world. The al Sabah Collection is regarded by international authorities as one of a small handful of the most comprehensive collections of Islamic art in the world. It has continued to grow since its inception increasing its strengths in all categories arms and armour, calligraphy, carpets and textiles, coins, glass, hardstones, ivory, jewelry, manuscripts and miniatures, metalwork, stone and stucco, and woodwork. The collection has long had an active program of the publication of volumes focused on its holdings, which is ongoing. It also has an impressive history in the generation of distinguished special exhibitions, in addition to the loaning of objects to exhibitions organized elsewhere in the world.

I was lucky enough to see the Treasury of the World exhibit (part of the extensive al Sabah  collection) a few years ago at Amricani Cultural Centre and I am delighted that it is to re-open again on the most auspicious date of 25th February, 2018. The astounding exhibit travels the globe and has been to the British Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and many others. It will be wonderful for Kuwait and for tourists to have it back here.

The Mughal jeweled collection comprises of many elaborate exquisite necklaces, thick bracelets, plume-like turban ornaments, protective rings for archery, hookah mouthpieces and elongated hair ornaments, as well as jewel-encrusted boxes, fly whisks, dozens of swords and daggers and scabbards. Precious stones used in abundance include diamonds, rubies, emeralds and natural pearls. There is calligraphy, ceramics, glass, hardstone, leather, manuscripts, metal, numismatics and stone that also make up this incredible collection of Islamic Mughal heritage.

Turban brooch

The exquisite, jewelled ring above has a moveable head
and a secret compartment for poison in case the
wearer was captured and needed to commit suicide
 before the gruesome torture began.

Adorned cups

Diamond and pearl necklace

Dagger, scabbard and jewel encrusted horse hair fly swisher handle 3rd from right

Pearl and jewel necklace

Hookah water reservoirs

Emerald turban brooch

White jade

Extensive collection of ornate daggers

This photo on display has been blown up to almost adult size to show the 
very intricate details of the original miniature painting.

Egypt or Syria, Bowl, 1300–1350, brass with inlaid silver,
The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait.

Syria, Bowl, 13th century, fritware, The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait.
Uzbekistan, Sufi Watching the Poet Sadi in Ecstasy (illustration from the Subhat al-Abrar of Jami), 2nd quarter of 16th century, opaque watercolors, gold, and ink on paper,
The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait.

Egypt, Mosque Lamp, c. 1319, enamel and gilded glass,
The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait.

Turkey, Prayer Carpet, 2nd half of 16th century, wool and cotton pile on silk foundation,
The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait.

More details on the DAI website link.

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