All Exhibitions

Imperial Threads: motifs and artisans from Turkey, Iran and India

15 March 2017 to 27 January 2018

Imperial Threads: Motifs and Artisans from Turkey, Iran and India brings a new perspective to the Museum of Islamic Art’s collection by showing the connection between three major dynasties who mark the start of the early modern period in Islamic art. With this interaction between the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal dynasties, an entirely new distinctive range of motifs emerged, referencing and building upon earlier Islamic tradition and foreign artistic influences. Through the high level of patronage and artistic craftsmanship, patrons and artists succeeded in shaping this cultural exchange. Focusing on carpets as the prominent medium, manuscripts, metalwork, ceramics, and other objects are also featured in this exhibition to illustrate the historical and artistic context of this time.

THE CURATORS

DR. MOUNIA CHEKHAB-ABUDAYA Curator for North Africa and Iberia at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), Doha since 2012.
 

JULIA TUGWELL Assistant Curator at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), Doha since May 2015.

Museum of Islamic Art

The museum building has rapidly become an iconic feature of the Doha landscape. Standing alone on reclaimed land, the building draws much influence from ancient Islamic architecture, notably the Ibn Tulun Mosque in Cairo.

Cloudband Motifs

The cloudband or tchi, is a wavy ribbon-like motif generally formed in the shape of a horse shoe.

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Sulayman Enthroned Right page of a double frontispiece page from a Shahnameh Safavid, Iran (Shiraz) Circa 1560–1580 Opaque watercolour, ink and gilt paint on paper 35.2 x 22.5 cm
Sulayman Enthroned Right page of a double frontispiece page from a Shahnameh Safavid, Iran (Shiraz) Circa 1560–1580 Opaque watercolour, ink and gilt paint on paper 35.2 x 22.5 cm MS.326.2002

Medallion Motifs

The medallion motif is generally circular or ogival in shape, and is often found centrally displayed within a greater design field.

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Gold-Painted Lacquer Bookbinding Safavid, Iran 16th century Lacquer, leather, gilding and ink 33.3 x 53.5 cm
Gold-Painted Lacquer Bookbinding Safavid, Iran 16th century Lacquer, leather, gilding and ink 33.3 x 53.5 cm MIA.2014.427

Animal Motifs

Animal motifs had long been depicted in Islamic and pre-Islamic art, decorating objects including ceramics, manuscripts, textiles and stonework.

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Ardabil-Sarre Animal Carpet Safavid, Iran 16th century Wool and silk pile with brocaded metal threads 354 x 183 cm
Ardabil-Sarre Animal Carpet Safavid, Iran 16th century Wool and silk pile with brocaded metal threads 354 x 183 cm CA.43.2002

Çintamani Motifs

The word çintamani comes from Sanskrit and means ‘auspicious jewel’.

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Çintamani Prayer Rug Ottoman, West Anatolia (Selendi or Ushak) Late 16th – early 17th century Wool pile weaving 151 x 197 cm
Çintamani Prayer Rug Ottoman, West Anatolia (Selendi or Ushak) Late 16th – early 17th century Wool pile weaving 151 x 197 cm MIA.2013.149

Saz Motifs

The conquest of parts of Persia by the Ottomans in the 16th century largely influenced Turkish design styles.

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Pair of Tiles Ottoman, Turkey or Syria Late 16th century Underglaze-painted fritware
Pair of Tiles Ottoman, Turkey or Syria Late 16th century Underglaze-painted fritware 27.3 x 91 x 2.5 27.3 x 58 x 2.8 PO.1096.2011.1 and PO.1096.2011.2

Lotus Flower Motifs

Adapted from Chinese traditions, the lotus flower is a motif that frequently appeared in Islamic art following the Mongol invasions of the 13th century.

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Palmette Carpet Mughal, Lahore Early 17th century Wool pile on a cotton foundation 203 x 135 cm
Palmette Carpet Mughal, Lahore Early 17th century Wool pile on a cotton foundation 203 x 135 cm MIA.2013.181

Lattice Motifs

Mughal art often features floral compositions grouped into clusters and placed to fit within an interlaced or criss-crossed scheme, commonly called the lattice design.

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Flower and Lattice Carpet Mughal, Lahore or Kashmir Mid-17th century Wool pile on a cotton foundation 580 x 246 cm
Flower and Lattice Carpet Mughal, Lahore or Kashmir Mid-17th century Wool pile on a cotton foundation 580 x 246 cm CA.23.1998

Flower Motifs

Flower motifs, a common design found in many compositions, are apparent in most of the objects featured in this exhibition.

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Perfume Sprinkler Mughal, India 18th century Gem-set ruby and gold, with painted enamels 13.7 x 4 cm
Perfume Sprinkler Mughal, India 18th century Gem-set ruby and gold, with painted enamels 13.7 x 4 cm JE.197.2004

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