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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…

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The Magic of Science

Science in Islam was at its high peak between the ninth and 13th centuries. Charlotte Schriwer of the Nasser D Khalili Collection of Islamic art examines the achievements of the early Islamic scientists;…

Minbar (pulpit) formerly in the Qutubia mosque. From Cordoba, Spain, 1137, Almoravid period. Detail of the marquetry on the sides of the minbar. Cedar wood, ebony and ivory, H:3,86 m

The Masterpiece Minbar

Until relatively recent times, wooden furniture—in the sense of tables and chairs was little known in traditional Islamic societies. Throughout the warm and dry lands of North Africa, the Middle East, India and Central…

Tile with Arabic inscription, Iran, about 1215. Museum no. 1481-1876

Calligraphy in Islamic art – beyond pen and paper

The development of sophisticated calligraphy as an art form is not unique to Islamic culture. Other examples include Chinese and Japanese calligraphy and illuminated bibles from north-west Europe including the famous Book of…

Zillij in Fez

Zillij is an Islamic art that is based on learning, discipline, and faith. The geometric patterns reflect the Islamic belief that life is ordered by cosmic intelligence, even if people cannot always understand…

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