Islamic art. Room 34. The British Museum. London.
This gallery displays aspects of the art of Islam, from the 7th century AD to the present day, and from Spain to India.
The impact of Islam on European culture has been considerable: in science, maths and navigation, and in technologies as such as ceramics.
Earthenware flat basin (brasero), painted in cobalt blue and luster over a white glaze
Valencia, Spain, about 1400-1450
The design is a ship with women’s faces, and around the rim a pattern of running loops and knots. Designs such as these belong to a group that is strongly Moorish in styl and relate to earlier pieces produced in Malaga and Valencia in the 13th and 14th centuries. They are also known as Persian style and are characterized by the bold use of cobalt blue. The group includes designs with the al-afiya pattern of repeating Arabic letters.
Cast and beaten brass ewer
North India, Mughal, 17th century. Signed: ‘Abid Karim
Blue glass flask
Iran, Shiraz?, 18th-19th century
Although no fine glass is known from Iran between the 13th and 17th centuries, Iranian glass is believed to have been manufactured at Shiraz in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Some of the shapes are reminiscent of 17th and 18th century Italian or Spanih glass, but tall-necked bottles or flsks with trailed or mould-blown decoration and often with wrythen swan-like necks are a local invention.
Ivory sundial and qibla pointer
Bayram b. Ilyas, Ottoman Turkey
AH 990/1582-3 AD
On this very unusual combined instrument the string casts a shadow on the sail-shapped sundial in the centre, while the surrounding area is maked with the information needed for a qibla pointer.
Brass compass for showing the direction of Makka
Iran, 17th-18th century
Facing the qibla is a key element in the ritual of prayer. When Muhammas instituted the salat (prayers), he established Jerusalem as the direction of prayer. He later changed this to Makka in accordance with Qur’an.
Tile depicting the Ka’aba
Iznik, 17th-18th century
This tile shows the Haram al-Sahrif at Makka, with the Ka’aba at the centre. It also gives the name of the owner, Shehab al-Din Effendi.
These lamps were made from colourless glass and free blown to shape. The enamel colours were made from mixtures of crushed glass, and pigments such as lapis lazuli (blue), a precious stone imported from Afghanistan, iron oxide (red) and tin oxide (white). These colours were mixed with water and a little gum, then painted on the glass when cold. The painted glass vessel was then fastened to the end of an iron rod and carefully inserted into the furnace for a short time until the enamels fused into place. This was highly skilled procedure as the glass vessel softened and there was a risk it would collapse.
Abd al Karim al-Misri, Jazira (probably Mayyafarikin)
AH 638/1241 AD
Syria, 8th-9th century
The vessel, acquired in Aleppo, is in the form of a pack animal with a pot strapped to its back. It was blown first, with hot glass trails applied over it later. These vessels are known as “cage flasks” and many have been inspired by 3rd-4th century Roman vessels.
Stonepaste dish, underglaze painted
Iznik, Tukey, about 1625-50
During the 17th century, court patronage of the Iznik workshops declined and potters turned onto other markets. This dish depicts a sailing ship. Around the rim is a “rock and wave” border, originally derived from Chinese porcelain and found on earlier Iznik wares.
Stonepaste ceramic flask with underglaze decoration.
Pakistan, Late Mughal or British Raj, Sind or Multan, 19th century