Ink, Silk, and Gold: Islamic Treasures from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, on display through September 3, 2017, features masterpieces of Islamic art spanning centuries, media, and Islamic tradition. The exhibition features more than 50 items and panels of text, giving the viewer an engrossing background on Islamic history. This is part of a series of blogs that will give you context to the items in the exhibition. Islamic art developed within singular regions, widening its scope and nature. The exhibition presents objects from many different regions, including the ones below.
Egypt and Syria
In the cities of Cairo, Aleppo, and Damascus, architecture and art flourished under the patronage of Mamluk rulers (1250 – 1517) made rich by trade. Elaborate lamps, pulpits, and stands holding Qur’an manuscripts were present in mosques and tombs. Many ornate objects made from brass heavily inlaid with silver and copper, were used at court. These objects often carried the titles and emblems of their noble and royal sponsors as patronage of the arts was an important way to assert and reinforce personal status.
Spain, Italy, and North Africa
Islamic Spain was linked to southern Italy, the Middle East, and North Africa by a rich, blossoming network of diplomatic, mercantile, and the occasional military relations across the Mediterranean. Some aspects of Islamic culture became a shared heritage among the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula, as they were continually engaged in economic and political interactions. Silks from al-Andalus are among the products highly valued by the Christians and many ended up in tombs and church treasuries.
Iran and Central Asia
The Ilkhanid dynasty, founded in 1256, ruled Iran, Iraq, and parts of Anatolia and the Caucasus, and lasted until 1335. Another Turkish dynasty, the Timurids, established rule over Iran and Central Asia from the end of the 14th century until 1506. Luster ceramics and inlaid metal work were artistic innovations borne of the Turko-Persian kingdoms. However, the most significant artistic development from that time was the widespread adoption of paper that revolutionized the art of the book.