Treasures from Kuwait
More than 120 of the finest examples of Islamic arts, ranging from jewel encrusted objects, rare ceramics, finely detailed miniatures and illustrated written texts, have been selected for the internationally touring exhibition The Art of Islam - Islamic Art and Patronage: Treasures from Kuwait.
The works in the exhibition are from the al-Sabah Collection, which is housed at the Kuwait National Museum. This collection has been formed by principal members of the Kuwait Royal Family, Sheik Nasir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah and his wife Sheikha Hassah Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah. Begun in 1975, the collection is regarded as one of the most important in the world, containing as it does a comprehensive collection of rare and significant Islamic art objects.
This Royal collection was placed in the care of the Kuwait National Museum in 1983. During the Gulf War in 1990 the Museum buildings were ransacked and destroyed, but most of the pieces had been taken before the destruction and therefore saved. Since then the al-Sabah Collection has mostly either been in storage or touring the world.
"The worlds of Islam reach from the Iberian peninsula to the islands of Indonesia. The arts of Islam reflect the cultural and artistic opportunities of such a breadth of place and history in works as varied as exquisite calligraphies, Indian and Persian miniatures, ceramics, metalwork and of course the hallmark carpets. The arts of Islam are not well known in Australia and this most welcome and timely exhibition will aesthetically entrance and profoundly inform," said Edmund Capon, Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Created between the 8th and 18th centuries, these Islamic arts reflect the wide range produced in countries stretching from Spain to India and throughout the Middle East. While Islam has a wide geographic spread, common themes and principles of design unite the art produced; and patterns from nature or geometry are found throughout the Islamic world.
Many of the pieces were made by unknown artists who worked for courts or wealthy individuals. Royal patronage was considered an obligation to provide for the community's spiritual life as well as sponsoring non-religious culture. Ruling families sponsored the construction of mosques and other religious buildings including their decoration by artists of the highest calibre. In the 21st century, the Royal Family of Kuwait continues this tradition of patronage through supporting and sponsoring the Kuwait National Museum.
The jewelled arts have been more highly developed in the Indian Subcontinent than anywhere else in the world , reaching their peak in the period of the mughals . This full - colour presentation of its fabulously varited achievements. The pieces range from rings , necklaces and other personal adornment to astonishingly detailed jewelled work on objects as diverse boxes, flaks. bowls and daggers . They are presented and analysed here in thirteen thematic group ,begining with unique and highly effective varieties of some settings , and continuing with precious - metal inlay in hardstones ; hammered relief decoration in precious metals ;jewels with engraved gold back ; stones set in an elaborately engraved gold floral ground ; enamelling ; gold - embellished steel ; three - dimensional sculptural expressions; relief - carved ornament ; carved set gems; characteristic gemstone forms ; inscribed royal gemstones ; and concluding with a selection of exuberant pieces in which the jewelry artist combines his powers to create an explosion of splendid jewelled magnificence .
Manuel Keene , a foremost authority on Islamic and Indian jewelled arts , is Curator of the al - Sabah Collection in kuwait , one of the world's most important collections of Islamic art , and of unparalleled richness in Islamic and Indian jewelry . His publications include the article on jewelry in the Encyclopaedia of Islam and catalogue Islamic Jewelry in the Metropolitan Museum of Art .
PENDANTPlaque of grey nephrite jade ; inlaid with gold in kundan technique and set with rubies and emeralds ; the back and loops fabricated from gold champleve enamels ; with pendant spinel bead . Overall height 56 mm ; height excluding gold bail and pendant spinel 33 mm ; width 29 mm thickness 6 mm Jade plaque India , probably Deccan , probably 1st quarter 17th century AD; frame and back India , probably Deccan , later 18th - 19th - century AD
TINY BOXFabricated from gold ; worked in kundan technique and set with rubies Height 23 mm ; lengh 29 mm ; width excluding hinge and hasp 36 mm western India , Deccan or Mughal , probably 17th century AD
PENDANTFabricated from gold ; worked in kundan techique and set with diamond , rubies and emerald; with pendant emerald bead Height excluding , pendant emerald 46 mm ; height including pendant emerald 64 mm ; width 39 mm ; thickness excluding pendant emerald 8 mm ; India , Deccan or Mughal , 1st half 17th century
PENDANTFabricated from gold ; worked in kundan techique and set with diamond , rubies and emerald ; with pendant pearl and enamelled cap Height excluding pendant pearl 36 mm ; height including pendant pearl 52 mm ; widtg 30 mm ; thickess excluding pendant pearl 6mm India , Deccan or Mughal , probably 1st half 17 th century
PENDANTFabricated from gold, champleve enamelld ; worked in kundan technique and set with emerald;with pendant emerald bead and enamelled cap Height excluding pendant emerald 30 mm ; hight including pendant emerald 43 mm; width 25 mm ; thickness excluding pendant emerald 5 mm . India , probably Deccan , perhaps 17th century
PENDANT INSCRIBED IN THE NAME OF THE EMPEROR SHAH JAHAN .Carved from nephrite jade (light , uniform grey , translucent ); inlaid with gold in kundan technique ; fabricated gold frame and suspension lugs . Height 45 mm; width 38 mm; thickness 6mm . India , Mughal , dated AH 1047/Ad 1637-38
BOXCarved from rock crystal ; inlaid with gold in kundan technique and set with rubies and emeralds , the interior fabricated from gold and silver . Height 57 mm; diameter 51 mm . India , deccan or Mughal , later 16th-earier 17th centruy
PENDANT OF TAVIZ (AMULET )
Fabricated from gold ; worked in kundan technique and set with rubies Heigh 19 mm ; lengh28 mm; thickness 13 mm . India , Deccan or Mughal probably 1st half 17th century AD
Fabricated from gold ; worked in kundan technique and set with rubies , emeralds and diamonds ; strung with pearls and with pendant ruby bead and pearls Height excluding hook 99 mm ; width excluding pendant elements 3 mm India , Mughal or Deccan , probably 17th century AD
Fabricated from gold; with champleve and overpainted enamels ; worked in kundan technique set with emeralds and diamonds . Height 173 mm; width 53 mm; thickness including plume holder 13 mm India , probaby 2nd half 17th century
Carved from nephrite jade (white, uniform and translucent, of a high degree of purity of colour);inlaid with gold in kundan technique. Lengh front to back 40 mm;width 30mm;heoght 14 mm India , Deccan or Mughal , later 16th-early 17th century .
DAGGER HILT , LOCKET AND CHAPE
Carved from rock crystal ; emeralds and banded agate . Length of hilt 130 mm; width 70 mm; lengh of locket 33 mm; width 42 mm; length of chape 38 mm; width 23 mm . India , Mughal , later 16th- 1st decade 17th century