PARADISE ON EARTH: FLOWERS IN THE ARTS OF ISLAM
Now showing until September 2014
They will enter perpetual gardens graced with flowing streams.
There they will have everything they wish.
Qur’an XVI: 31
These words from the sixteenth chapter of the Qur’an ‘The Bee’ (An-Nahl) evoke the Islamic vision of paradise, which is believed to be a verdant realm of beautiful flowers and lush foilage, promising the joy of everlasting peace and bliss to those who enter Heaven following the Day of Judgement.
Paradise on earth presents works of art from the Middle East, India and Indonesia that feature floral subjects, a favourite theme of Muslim artists. The works date from medieval times to the present era and include textiles, painting, ceramics and metalware.
The Gallery’s renowned
Yakob ‘Polonaise’ carpet, woven in Iran in c.1624–30, forms a highlight of the
display. Its richly patterned design of stylised lotus flowers, blossoms and arabesques
epitomises the inspiration of nature in Islamic art. The term ‘Polonaise’ originates from the
similarity to carpets found in Poland, where they had been traded or sent as diplomatic gifts from
Iran centuries ago. Many of the objects in the display testify to the multiculturalism of
pre-modern Muslim societies. The
Yakob ‘Polonaise’ carpet features a unique inscription identifying the name of the maker,
Yakob, who was thought to be a Christian Armenian craftsman living in Iran.