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Author: Sheila Canby


Sheila R. Canby | Head Metropolitan Museum's Department of Islamic Art.[1] Prior to working at The British Museum, where she has been Curator of Islamic Art and Antiquities since 1991 – first in the Department of Asia, and since 2006 in the Department of the Middle East – she held curatorial and research positions at the Brooklyn Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Fogg Art Museum, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She was a visiting lecturer in the Art and Archaeology Department of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, in 2004-2005. She received her B.A. from Vassar College, summa cum laude, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Of the dozens of exhibitions and installations she has organized at The British Museum, the most recent was the major spring 2009 exhibition Shah `Abbas: The Remaking of Iran (February through June 2009), which was accompanied by two publications, both of which she authored: Shah `Abbas: The Remaking of Iran and Shah `Abbas and the Treasures of Imperial Iran (both British Museum Press, 2009). Other recent book publications include Islamic Art in Detail (2005), Persian Love Poetry, with Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis (2005), and Safavid Art and Architecture, 1501-1722 (2002). She has also lectured widely, and has published extensively, as the author of articles and reviews, and as a contributor to catalogues and books.

Posts by Sheila Canby

Map of the Masjid al-Haram. Probably the Hijaz (Arabia), 18th century.

Pilgrimage and Prayer

Written by Sheila Canby Description of objects written by Aimee Froom (‘The Path of Princes: Masterpieces from the Aga Khan Museum Collection’, published in 2008). Pilgrimage to Mecca, or hajj, plays an important role…

Manuscript of a Sulawesi Qur’an.

The Qur’an

As the word of God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the verses of the Qur’an are canonical and cannot be changed. Because of the centrality of the Qur’an to the religion of Islam, copying all or some of its verses in any medium is considered a pious act. Over time a wide variety of styles of writing Arabic script developed, but not all of these were considered appropriate for copying Qur’ans. Qur’an manuscripts from the first two centuries of Islam were written on parchment in an angular style called Kufic after the Iraqi city of Kufa, an early Muslim capital.

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