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
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
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
Benaki Museum, Athens