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Silk is a fundamental part of the Islamic world. We can read accounts of fabulous costumes and magnificent tents, and of whole cities made of silk, with colours so rich that people were overwhelmed by their sheer beauty. Remarkably few of the silk textiles made for the royal courts and the great palaces survive today, but the collection of the Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar, contains examples that express the wonders of this past, the imagination of these artists and the great skill of the weavers and dyers.
Highlights of the collection and this publication include a group of panels brocaded with gold thread that must have been used to line an imperial tent of the Ilkhanid rulers of Iran and Central Asia in the late thirteenth century, alongside the only silk carpet extant from the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century, which expresses the magnificence of the Timurid court in Samarqand. A superb curtain decorated with calligraphy, which adorned the walls of the Alhambra in Granada during the time of the fifteenth-century Nasrid rulers of Spain, is preserved in near pristine condition. Two velvets and four other silks from the collection provide a glimpse into the splendours of the courts of Safavid Iran and the Ottoman Empire, respectively.
This publication of twenty masterpieces provides a unique opportunity to share the beauties of silk and selected treasures of Qatar’s Museum of Islamic Art with a wider audience, prior to the opening of the new Museum planned for 2007, where this collection will find a permanent home.
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