Groom Yourself Happy with 11th-Century Literature

Mirrors for Princes exhibition

Long, shiny hair can be very appealing in its place – yet hair becomes repulsive as soon as it is detached from the head. Perhaps it’s not all that surprising, then, that in an exhibition filled with severed tongues and torn out hearts, the most visceral and unsettling work is a wooden book stand sprouting a thick crop of straight, honey-colored hair. “Zulf” (Brunette) is one of a series of bizarre, humorous and consistently clever works on show at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, currently hosting international artists’ collective Slavs and Tatars’ latest solo show, “Mirrors for Princes: Both Sides of the Tongue.”

Read More: Groom Yourself Happy with 11th-Century Literature

A Panoramic Shot of Arab Art

Arab photo art exhibition

A woman walking briskly through the gallery’s snaking exhibition layout, paying scant attention to the work around her, stopped suddenly in her tracks at the sight of Saudi artist Ahmed Matar’s photograph “Let It Be Passed,” forcing the lady behind her to swerve wildly in order to avoid a collision. “Wow,” the first woman could be heard to exclaim. Then, “I love it. I love it!” A dramatic reaction to a photograph, maybe, but one that suggests “View from Inside: Contemporary Arab Video, Photography and Mixed Media Art” is managing to reach its viewers. The image, an enormous color shot of two young boys pressed up against a fence on a hill overlooking the Islamic holy city of Mecca – a sea of minarets lit up like candles in the night – was part of an exhibition originally dreamt up by FotoFest.

Read More: A Panoramic Shot of Arab Art

Adonis on Giving Freedom to His Hands


“Everything is poetry,” Adonis said. “The difference between a poem and a painting is simply the material that has been used.” Often called the Arab world’s greatest living poet, but also well-known for his essays and a seminal book of literary criticism, Adonis spoke to The Daily Star on the eve of the opening of “A,” an exhibition of his visual art. “The relationship between a piece of paper and a stain of ink,” Adonis continued, “there’s composition, there’s musicality, vertical dimensions. It just depends who the artist is.”

Read More: Adonis on Giving Freedom to His Hands

Qatar Museums Opens ‘Qajar Women: Images of Women in 19th-Century Iran’ Exhibition

Qajar Women exhibition

Under the patronage of Qatar Museums Chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani, the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) opened “Qajar Women: Images of Women in 19th-Century Iran” exhibition today [April 8th]. Running until 16 June 2016, this new temporary exhibition showcases a wide variety of artworks from the Qajar period, all of which feature Persian women as the main subject. This exhibition demonstrates the importance of women in the art of 19th-century Iran and how this continues to inspire contemporary artists.

Read More: Qatar Museums Opens ‘Qajar Women: Images of Women in 19th-Century Iran’ Exhibition

Work on First Sunken Museum at Humayun’s Tomb to Begin Tuesday

Work will begin Tuesday on the construction of the “country’s first” sunken museum at the iconic Humayun’s Tomb site, which after its completion in 2017 will showcase the heritage of the Nizamuddin Area over the last seven centuries. Inspired from the medieval baolis (water tanks) of northern India, the underground site museum, with a built-up area of 9000 sq m, will marry modern 21st centuryarchitecture with Mughal-era craftsmanship in its design.

Read More: Work no First Sunken Museum at Humayun’s Tomb to Begin Tuesday

See also: Underground Museum at Humayun’s Tomb in Two Years


Underground Museum at Humayun’s Tomb in Two Years

Humayun's tomb

Come 2017, the city will have its first, fully underground museum at the world-famous Humayun’s Tomb complex, which will showcase art, culture and architectural history of the Nizamuddin area spanning over seven centuries. Inspired by the traditional baolis of northern India, the one-of-its-kind museum will be constructed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture as part of the Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Programme. The foundation stone will be laid on Tuesday by Union tourism minister Dr Mahesh Sharma in the presence of Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, who will be in Delhi to receive the Padma Vibhushan. Officials said this would be the first of the site museums planned by the culture ministry as part of the 25 adarsh or “model” monuments programme.

Read More: Underground Museum at Humayun’s Tomb in Two Years

See also: Humayun’s Tomb Set to Get Site Museum


Pieces with Tales to Tell

EEvery object tells a story

The dealer in Islamic art Oliver Hoare is putting on a marvellously eclectic show of 250 objects, ranging from a Chinese winged rider in stone (5th-6th century AD), a marble emperor’s foot from the Roman empire, obsidian bell-stones from the Andes, erotic Japanese prints, a 1930s Italian baboon, Islamic manuscripts to Ottoman instruments. Most of the works are for sale at prices starting at about £500 to more than £1m, from May 6-June 26 at 33 Fitzroy Square in London. Hoare had a gallery in London in the 1980s and is well known for the swap he engineered in 1994 with Iran, when a 16th-century Persian manuscript, the famed “Houghton Shahnameh” was dramatically exchanged at Vienna airport for Willem de Kooning’s “Woman III” from the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.

Read More: Pieces with Tales to Tell


A Park That Threatens Taj Mahal’s Safety?

Taj Mahal

Most photographs of the Taj Mahal taken before 2003 show the Yamuna river flowing close to the rear foundation of the edifice, its water in fact lapping the rear wall. But now a park developed by the Archaeological Survey of India, no doubt to beautify the area around it, has distanced the Yamuna by a good 100 hundred yards from the world-famous marble maosoleum. This could prove dangerous for the foundation of the 17th century monument of love, which could tilt or sink, author and eminent historian of the Mughal period R. Nath has warned. The health of Taj’s foundation is dependent on the Yamuna, which should flow full and touch the rear part of the mammoth structure.

Read More: A Park That Threatens Taj Mahal’s Safety?


Qutb Shahi Tombs to Regain Lost Grandeur

Qutb Shahi tombs project 6

The Qutb Shahi Heritage Park, as the entire complex is called, has 72 monuments including mausoleums of rulers of the Qutub Shahi dynasty (1518-1687) spread over 108 acres at the foot of the majestic Golconda Fort. Like many historic monuments in this 425-year-old city, the tombs have also been long neglected and face threat from encroachers. The 16th-17th century necropolis is now getting a new lease of life thanks to the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), which began the conservation work in November 2013.

Read More: Qutb Shahi Tombs to Regain Lost Grandeur

See also: A New Lease of Life for Qutb Shahi Tombs

Timur’s Registan: Noblest Public Square in the World?

Registan Square

It was on a bright, clear afternoon that I went to the Registan and walked to the centre of the tiled expanse. All around me loomed impossibly ornate portals, patterned minarets and glistening cupolas. The world was suddenly rife with glazed mosaics in liquid shades of blue. The motifs around me would have been impressive enough on a teacup, but in such profusion and on so massive a scale they soon had me dizzy. The effect, it seems, was intended. They’re part of the legacy of the Turco-Mongol king Timur in his ancient city of Samarkand, located in modern-day Uzbekistan.

Read More: Timur’s Registan: Noblest Public Square in the World?

A New Lease of Life for Qutb Shahi Tombs

Qutb Shahi tombs project 3

The contrast is striking. On one side are blackened domes with vegetal growth sprouting and on the other, lime-mortar finished graceful structures rising in the sky. Visitors to the Qutb Shahi Heritage Park can’t help draw in their breath at the transformation taking place. The 16 century mausoleums are getting a second lease of life. Correcting the criminal neglect suffered by the tombs during the last two centuries is no easy task. But the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), world’s leading conservation body, has almost succeeded in doing the impossible.

Read More: A New Lease of Life for Qutb Shahi Tombs

See also: Qutb Shahi Monuments to be Restored

16th Century Wall Found at Qutub Shahi in Hyderabad

Qutb Shahi tombs project 5

A 16th century enclosure wall was recently discovered at the Qutub Shahi Heritage Park. Retired director of ASI, K.K. Mohammed, who is now part of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) that is restoring the heritage site, said, “The 243-metre long enclosure was built much before the tomb complex.” The wall is up to nine feet below the current ground level at the heritage park. AKTC said that the wall would be restored and landscaping would be done.

Read More: 16th Century Wall Found at Qutub Shahi in Hyderabad

Telangana Proposes Garden, Museum at Qutub Shahi Tombs

Qutb Shahi tombs project 4

The Telangana government has sent a proposal of Rs.85 crore to the central government for restoration works at Qutub Shahi tombs, the final abode of Qutub Shahi rulers at Golconda here. The state government proposes to develop landscaped gardens, site museum and illumination of the monuments spread over 104 acre royal necropolis. Principal Secretary, Tourism and Culture, B.P. Acharya, told reporters on Tuesday that the proposal was sent following an announcement made in the union budget for 2015-16.

Read More: Telangana Proposes Garden, Museum at Qutub Shahi Tombs

A Glimpse Inside LACMA’s Hidden Damascus Room Before Its 2016 Debut

LACMA Damascus room 3

In the late 1970s, the Syrian capital of Damascus was experiencing a building boom. In the al-Bahsa quarter, for instance, a clutch of old houses were demolished to make way for a new roadway. Among the homes: an 18th century courtyard house with at least one  elaborate reception room crafted from hand-painted wood panels and inlaid stone. Before the house was destroyed, a Lebanese dealer bought the contents of the room — floors, fountain and wood panels — and for roughly three decades, warehoused them in Beirut, where they somehow managed to survive the Lebanese Civil War.

Read More: A Glimpse Inside LACMA’s Hidden Damascus Room Before Its 2016 Debut

See also: LACMA to Lend Damascus Room, Islamic Art to New Saudi Museum

Destruction of Egypt’s Historic Buildings a Financial and Cultural Disaster

Destruction of Egyptian buildings

Deep down a winding dead-end back alley in the Cairo district of Bulaq, so hidden that few people apart from the residents themselves ever see it, lies an exquisite arched gateway made of ornamental stone. Bulaq is full of such treasures, although often hard to find beginning in the 15th century it was Cairo’s wealthy port on the Nile, when the spice trade and later the coffee trade to Europe passed through Egypt. As such it was chock-a-block with well-built warehouses, merchant lodgings and religious structures. In 1979, it was one of about a dozen Cairo neighbourhoods placed on Unesco’s World Heritage List. The gateway is in the Mameluke style, indicating it may have been built as long as 500 years ago.

Read More: Destruction of Egypt’s Historic Buildings a Financial and Cultural Disaster

British Museum Announces New Islamic Art Gallery

British Museum Islamic Gallery 2

The lead curator responsible for a major new Islamic art gallery at the British Museum in London has said that the new space will allow the “full range of the collections to be deployed”, with many objects going on show for the first time. Venetia Porter, the curator of the Islamic collections at the museum, said that glass, metalwork, ceramics, ethnography, miniature paintings, and other items dating from the beginning of Islam in the seventh century to today will go on display in the the Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World, which is due to open in October 2018.

Read More: British Museum Announces New Islamic Art Gallery

See also: British Museum Announces Major Gallery Dedicated to Islamic World


Qutb Shahi Monuments to be Restored

Qutb Shahi tombs project

The work on restoration of 30 of the 72 monuments at the Qutb Shahi Heritage Park  in the old city here will be completed next year. And, the entire project is expected to take 10 years for completion. With 72 monuments spread over 108 acres, the 400-year-old Qutb Shahi Heritage Park or ‘Seven Tombs’ is a unique necropolis comprising gardens, mosques, wells, etc that have been devoid of its due share of respect. Experts associated with the  ongoing conservation of the heritage monuments believe that the site will transform into a major international heritage attraction after completion of the restoration work.

Read More: Qutb Shahi Monuments to be Restored

Entertainment, Perceptions and the Violence of War Explored in Sanaz Mazinani’s Video Installation at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum

Sanaz Mazinani

San Francisco artist Sanaz Mazinani presents a new and ambitious work that transforms cinematic action sequences, prompting a fresh perspective on the meanings and experience of media. Curated by Marc Mayer, educator for public programs, “Sanaz Mazinani: Threshold” is on view March 27 through May 3 in the Asian Art Museum’s Vinson Gallery. Mazinani’s work explores the conceptual and formal frames of photography as they relate to perception and representation, especially in digital culture.

Read More: Entertainment, Perceptions and the Violence of War Explored in Sanaz Mazinani’s Video Installation

Metropolitan Museum of Art to Display Sultans of Deccan India Exhibit

Sultans of Deccan India exhibition 2

The Deccan plateau of south-central India was home to a succession of highly cultured Muslim kingdoms with a rich artistic heritage. Under their patronage in the 16th and 17th centuries, foreign influences-notably from Iran, Turkey, eastern Africa, and Europe-combined with ancient and prevailing Indian traditions to create a distinctive Indo-Islamic art and culture. Opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on April 20, the landmark exhibition Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy will bring together some 200 of the finest works from major international, private, and royal collections.

Read More: Metropolitan Museum of Art to Display Sultans of Deccan India Exhibit

See also: Metropolitan Museum of Art Will Celebrate Deccan Sultanate’s Golden Age

Metropolitan Museum of Art Will Celebrate Deccan Sultanate’s Golden Age

Sultans of Deccan India exhibition 1

The most extraordinary thing about the exhibition, “Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy”, that opens next month [April 20] at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art(popularly known as “the Met”) is that it’s happening at all. As historians know well, the output of the five sultanates of the Deccan that flourished between the late 15th and the late 17th century, well before the princely state of Hyderabad came into being, was dazzling. The world’s earliest diamonds were mined in this region, of which the finest came to adorn European, Ottoman and Mughal royalty. Its prized painted and dyed textiles went westwards to Europe and eastwards to Southeast Asia. The Deccan courts attracted Persian painters, European traders, Portuguese doctors, Maratha warriors and military slaves from Ethiopia, who, unusually, came to enter the nobility.

Read More: Metropolitan Museum of Art Will Celebrate Deccan Sultanate’s Golden Age

From Five Centuries Ago, the Cosmopolitan World of the Deccan Sultanates

Deccan exhibition in New Delhi

Hookah bars are a recent addition to the nightlife of Indian towns and their coloured glass “sheesha” a recent import from West Asia. But in the Deccan, hookahs have been a part of local life for a long, long time. Some 500 years ago Portuguese traders brought tobacco sourced from the Americas first to Bijapur. The invention of the hookah is, in fact, credited to a hakim in Bijapur. As tobacco found favour in the Deccan, local manufacturers turned out thousands of silver or gold inlaid Bidri work hookah bases for the well-heeled smokers, while those with shallower pockets made do by fashioning the bases out of coconut shells. Public hookah shops, the medieval equivalent of today’s hookah bars, became a real draw.

Read More: From Five Centuries Ago, the Cosmopolitan World of the Deccan Sultanates


Henning Larsen Reveals Designs for New Mosque in Copenhagen

Copenhagen mosque

Danish studio Henning Larsen Architects has unveiled plans for a new mosque and Islamic community centre in Denmark’s capital city. The Islamic Community Centre and Mosque by Henning Larsen Architects will  be built in Dortheavej, an area in northern Copenhagen. The 2,890-square-metre building, which will feature a series of interlocking domes, was commissioned by The Islamic Society of Denmark. “The new community centre and mosque at Dortheavej is a modern, Nordic interpretation of Islamic architecture, and brings this meeting of Nordic and Islamic building traditions to Denmark for the first time,” said the architects.

Read More: Henning Larsen Reveals Designs for New Mosque in Copenhagen

Art in Dubai

Art Dubai 2015

The ninth edition of Art Dubai held from March 17-21, 2015 was both different than and similar to other such events held there in the past. Although the recent Art Fair, like last year, was split into sections of Modern and Contemporary (a divide that needs to be defined objectively and rationally), the presence of Pakistani artists was strongly felt this time. To start with, a Pakistani gallery (Canvas Gallery from Karachi) for the first time participated in Art Dubai’s Contemporary section. Another gallery, Art Chowk like last year had a booth in the Modern section, showcasing works of Shahid Sajjad. Besides these, a number of galleries from South Asia, Middle East, Far East, Europe and USA participated with several Pakistani artists displaying in their spaces.

Read More: Art in Dubai

Barah Khamba Tomb Restored for Visitors

Bara Khamba

After a year-long restoration work, the Barah Khamba Tomb in the Nizamuddin heritage area was thrown open to tourists on Saturday. Aga Khan Trust for Culture, in partnership with Archaeological Survey of India, carried out the restoration work. DDA’s Delhi Urban Heritage Foundation co-funded the project. The 16th century Lodhi monument was inaugurated by DDA vice-chairman Balvinder Kumar. “The monument is one of its kind. The restoration work started in May last year. DDA has so far undertaken five such projects with Aha Khan Trust for Culture and we are planning similar projects for the conservation and restoration of the area,” Kumar said.

Read More: Barah Khamba Tomb Restored for Visitors

Delhi’s 16th-century Purana Qila Fort

Purana Qila

Delhi’s history is often spoken of in terms of its seven cities. These were fortified settlements, established by various rulers between the 11th and 17th centuries, now swallowed by the sprawling city of today. The sixth Delhi is the Purana Qila, or Old Fort, a 16th-century stone fort near the eastern edge of the city, and a particularly good place from which to tell the story of Delhi’s urban development. There are monuments in Delhi older than the Qila – and there are certainly more impressive ones. But it’s unlikely there exists another place in the city where history runs as deep.

Read More: Delhi’s 16th-century Purana Qila Fort


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