An Exceptional Collection of Islamic Art

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Under the generous Patronage of General His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE Armed Forces, the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF),  in cooperation with Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH), hosted an exhibition entitled "A Walk into Islamic History".  On display was  an exceptional selection of Islamic art from the "Al Muntakhab" collection of Dr. Abdul Latif Kanoo, a Bahraini Art Collector,  who is well known in the UAE for his business acumen and literary activities.


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The Arab world saw in the recent past, a cultural awakening and an increasing and accelerated interest in Islamic heritage.  This interest resulted in the formation and growth of some excellent private collections of Islamic art, one of the most distinguished of which is Dr. Abdul Latif Kanoo?s collection of Islamic art.


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Dr. Abdul Latif Kanoo is a scholar of Islamic heritage and the founder of "Beit Al Quran".  He has an active political and academic role in Bahrain, and he has launched many cultural and educational initiatives. Dr. Kanoo has written many books, articles and research papers on the Qur’an and history of Islam. He participates in local, regional and international conferences, seminars and forums, where he has been awarded with medals and honorary certificates from world leaders.


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His collection of Islamic Art began originally with a concentration on the acquisition of Holy Quranic and other Islamic manuscripts.  A large number of these magnificent works were collected from a variety of sources from numerous part of the world, through public sales or private purchases.  It was with great and concerted dedication that the collection was built, and as it expanded, it was realized that keeping such an important and all encompassing collection of Islamic manuscripts and Holy Qurans in particular, was an awesome responsibility.  It was this feeling that inspired Dr. Kanoo to initiate the concept of Beit Al Qur?an, the primary function of which was to be a depository for this great collection and keeper of this great heritage for future generations.


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The exhibition "A Walk Into Islamic History" comprises a comprehensive and international collection of various Islamic arts and has more than 5000 pieces of art that reflects the diversity and glory of Islamic civilization, and the creative abilities of its artists. The collection includes the works of art in pottery, ceramics, glass,  metals, arms, armour, rock crystal, jade, silver, ivory, wood, carved stonework, jewelry, books, manuscripts, textiles, fabrics, rugs, carpets, clothes, coinage, scientific instruments, manuscripts on Islamic science and medicine and a wide range of objects d?art.  While the collection is reasonable strong in all the areas it covers, it is particularly so on the subjects of pottery and ceramics, glass, metals and Islamic coinage.


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Dr Kanoo is determined that the maximum number of people in the Arabian Gulf and elsewhere should enjoy and appreciate the collection through its exposure in exhibitions,   which are slated to be held in other corners of the world soon.


Islamic Pottery and Ceramics


Artifacts are presented from a wide historic era spanning the progress of art from the early unglazed ware of the 9th and 10th centuries from Syria, Iraq and Iran, to later beautiful Iznik and Kutayah ware from Ottoman Turkey from the 17th to the 19th Centuries.   Significant Islamic contributions to the world of pottery and ceramics are highlighted with slipware from Nishaput, the famous Islamic luster and Min?ai wares from Kashan.  Works from Safavid and Qajar Iran are also included


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Lustre & Blue Star Tile, Kashan, Iran, 13/14th Century A.D(L); Decorated Lustre Jar, Kashan, Iran, 2nd half of 13th Century A.D. (R)


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Enameled Coffee Cup Holders, India, 18th Century A.D.


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Blue Glazed Tiles,  Iran 13-14th Century A.D.


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Kubachi Fritware Tiles ? Male & Female Motif, Iran 17th Century


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Mamluk Pottery Vase, Egypt 15 century A.D. (Inscription containing the word Allah) (L); Glass Tumblers, Iran, 9-10th Century A.D.(R)


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Iznik Jug, Turkey 17th Century A.D. / Perfume Sprinkler, Syria 11-12 Century A.D.


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Min?ai Glazed Bowl, Iran 13th Century A.D.


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Iznik Dishes, Turkey, 17th Century A.D.


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Sultanabad Blue Glazed Bowl -Iran, 12-13th Century A.D.


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Buffware Pottery with Animal Motifs – Iran 10th Century A.D.


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Unglazed Pottery, Jug with Kufic Script decoration (left), Syria, 10th Century A.D.


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Safavid Blue Glazed Vases with Bronze Neck, Iran 17th Century A.D. (L); Large Blue Glazed Safavid Jar with Chinese Motif, Iran, 17th Century  (R)


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Relief Moulded Jar, Syria 12-13th Century A.D. (L);  Glass Bottle ?India 18 Century A.D. (R)


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Green Glass Goblet, Iraq 9-10th Century A.D. (L); Blue Glazed Oil Lamps, Iran 13th -14th Century A.D. (R)


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Two Sprouted Bronze Lamps, Afghanistan 11th Century A.D.


Islamic Glass


Artifacts outline the development of glass-making in the Islamic world from the 9th to the late 18th century.  The collection depicts construction and decorative methods in Islamic glass such as free and mould-blowing,  drawn and cut glass techniques, tinting, colouring and enamelling.  A variety of vessels, including bottles, beakers, bowls, rose-water sprinklers and vases, are presented from different areas of the Islamic world illustration the richness and variety of Islamic glassware from various areas.


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Glass Beakers, Iran, 9-10th Century A.D. (L); Glass Vase + Beaker, Iran/Syria, 17-18th Century A.D. (R)


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Glass Bottle, Iraq, 9-10th Century A.D.


Islamic Metals


Significant examples of Islamic metals are presented, including pieces of arms and armour and fine examples of Islamic scientific instruments.  The various Islamic decorative techniques and design motifs are well covered, such as incisions, engraving and use of calligraphy and silver inlay in the design of objects.  Fine examples of works from Iran, Mamluk Syria, Ottoman Turkey, the Maghrib and Moghul India are displayed.


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Copper Bowls and Dishes, Iran 12-13 Century A.D.


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Brass Eye drop bottles, sprinkler and Ewan, Iran 12th Century A.D. (Left); Brass Celestial Globe, India, late 18th century AD (Middle); Bronze Lamp Stand (First Right), Iran,12th Century Bronze Ewan, Iran 11 Century A.D. (Second Right)


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Silver Inlaid Brass Bowl & Candle Stick Holder, Syria, 14th Century A.D.


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Cast Brass Dish, Iran, 12-13th Century A.D.


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Bejeweled gilt copper Candle Stick Holder Turkey, 19 Century A.D.     Silver Inlaid Brass Candle Stick Holder, Syria, 14th Century A.D.


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Brass Basin & Brass Dishes, Iran 12-13th Century A.D.(L); Boxwood Navigation Instruments, Turkey 18th Century, A.D.(R)


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Steel Helmet, Ceremonial Flask, Iran, 19th Century A.D.


Miscellaneous Islamic Arts


The collection boasts a large number of rock crystals, jade, jewelry, textiles, fabrics, ivory, wood and carved stonework.


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Buff Sandstone Fragment –  Syria, 11th/12th Century A.D.


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Carved Ivory Penbox, North India, 18th Century, India


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Jeweled gold box, snuff boxes, belt buckle & Amethyst, Jade dagger Hilt, India, 18th/19th Century


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A rare pearl necklace,  Bahrain, 19th Century A.D.(L); Pearl Jewelry from the Mogul Era – India, 19th Century (R)


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Jade Hilted Dagger, India 18th Century(L); Green silk calligraphic panel, Iran, 18th Century(R)


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Gunpowder Flask, Ram & Lion Head, India, 19th Century A.D.(L); Mughal Carpet Fragment -18th Century, India  (R)


Islamic Books


The Exhibition presents works from Iran, Turkey and India, showing the excellence of Islamic book makers of these areas and a wide range of subjects tackled by Muslim scholars and publishers.  Scientific and medical books are illustrated;  a fine example is that of the famous Ottoman book : Dla?il Al Khairat, in praise of Prophet Mohammed.   Also presented is a beautiful 18th century copy of Al Qazwini?s Aja?ib Al Makhluqat, with exceptional illustrations and miniatures of mythical beings, animals and plants.


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Dla?il Al Khairat Manuscript-Early 19th Century A.D.(L); Book of Hadith – Turkey 17th Century A.D.(R)


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Book of Dua?a & Adaab Al Din – North Africa-18th Century A.D.


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Mathematical Treatise – North Africa 1650 A.D.


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Astronomical Manuscript – Maghrib 1743 A.D.(L); Shahnameh Manuscript – Iran 19th Century A.D.(R)


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Kalila Wa Dumna Manuscript – Iran 1814 A.D.


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Nizami Khamsa Manuscript- India 19th Century A.D.


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Diwan Hafez Shirazi Manuscript ? Iran 18 Century A.D.(L); A Page from the Book of Ajaib Al Makhluqat, India, 16-17th Century A.D(R)


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Ajaib Al Makhluqat, India 1744 A.D.(L); Book of Poems from Zulaika & Yousif, India 18th Century A.D.(R)

Author: Judith Serrao- UAE


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