Classical Art of Islamic World from 9th to 19th centuries. «Ninety-nine names of God»

20.02.2013 – 16.06.2013

Private Collections

The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts presents the exhibition of classical art of the Islamic world from 9th to 19th century from the collection of the Mardjani foundation. This is the first display of the collection numbering in their hundreds of objects. 99 masterpieces of world significance were selected for this show. Their number corresponds to the beautiful names of God recited by Muslims in their prayers. Similar to the beautiful names of God, objects of Muslim art reflect aspects of hidden beauty. Its contemplation brings a spectator to the proximity of God.

Three sections of this exhibition correspond to the main historical epochs: from the birth of Islam to the Mongol invasion, the time of the Jenghisids, and the post-Mongol period.

The first section includes works of art from the traditional parts of the Islamic world such as North Africa, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Mawarannahr and Minor Asia. These objects represent the highest technological achievements of that epoch. The second section correlates to a much wider geographical area, from China to the steppes of the Eastern Europe, with the art of the Mongol empire unified throughout this vast territory. Although the Mongols of Jenghis Khan’s time were not Muslims, in time, three of the four Mongol dynasties which divided the huge empire were converted to Islam. The third section encompasses artworks of the court ateliers of the later Muslim dynasties, such as Mamluks (1250-1517), Ottomans (1281-1924), Timurids (1370-1507), Shaybanids (1500-1598), Safavids (1501-1722) and Qajars (1779-1925). Objects which gained world fame for Muslim art – manuscripts, miniatures and textiles –– are widely represented here.

Among the objects, there are unique exhibits which have never been on display before, while others, on the contrary, are very famous and were presented to the public at a variety of exhibitions. The highlights of the exhibition are glass bowls of the 10th century, the wide number of early ceramics, costumes of the Mongol period (late 13th – early 14th c.) in the rarest condition, a line from colossal Qur’an, copied by prince Baysonqur, the grandson of Tamerlane in memory of his great grandfather, the prayer rug of the mid. 16th century produced in royal workshops of Iran and presented by the shah to the Ottoman sultan. 99 names of God are woven on this carpet. One of the most important objects is Qur’an written on Chinese paper with images of birds. Today this is the only known exemplar of the sacred text decorated with figural images.

According to Rustam Suleymanov – the president of the Mardjani foundation – the language of the beauty is understandable for all people. It makes the bridge between peoples and cultures. This exhibition invites visitors to reveal this exalted harmony.

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