Beginning this month, a joint agreement between the Museum of Fine Arts and Kuwait's Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah brings 60-plus objects of ancient Islamic art to Houston.
Part of the al-Sabah Collection--one of the most extensive and important holdings of Islamic art in the world, touting more than 30,000 items in total, ranging from Mughal jewelry and decorative arts to textiles, ceramics and intricate inlaid metalwork--the pieces will take up residence in a dedicated gallery for five years.
"The public will be dazzled," says Gary Tinterow, director of the MFA. "The enormous 2.4 pound gold coin, struck by the Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal, is unforgettable." Tinterow also cites a jade inkwell and pen-holder, jeweled dagger and an enameled gold cup and saucer as favorite items.
"Given our dynamic Muslim and Central Asian communities in Houston, [we've] wanted to represent the arts of the Islamic World at the same level of quality as our European, American, and Pre-Columbian holdings," says Tinterow. "Now we can."-Elena Lacey