LONDON (AFP) – A collection of Islamic art featuring precious objects from the ninth to the 19th centuries is set to be opened in London on Thursday by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, named after the spiritual head of Ismaili Muslims.
The collection of 165 objects, shown to the press Monday, comes from regions as far apart as India to the east and Morocco to the west, depicts the general outlines of Islamic art’s refinement and diversity over 10 centuries.
Persian miniatures, pages of calligraphy from the Koran, ceramics, medical tools and musical instruments show different aspects of Islamic culture.
Among the rarest pieces was an 11th-century manuscript of Ibn Sina’s, or Avicenna’s, “Canon of Medicine”, which was the standard medical textbook in the Middle East and Europe before modern times.
Also on show was a page from the Blue Koran, which organisers said was one of the rarest and most luxurious Koran manuscripts ever produced, created for the Fatimid caliphs in the 10th century.
“Many questions are currently being raised in the West about the Muslim world, with countless misconceptions and misunderstandings occurring between our contemporary societies,” Prince Karim Aga Khan said in a statement.
“I hope that this exhibition will hold a special significance at a time which calls for enlightened encounters amongst faiths and cultures.”
The exhibition will be open until the end of August and will be displayed at the Louvre in Paris between October 2007 and January 2008. From mid-February 2008 to April 2008 it will be at the Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon.
It will go on display at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, when the museum opens in 2010.
The Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims, a branch of Shiite Islam, devotes much of his time and wealth to the promotion of moderate Islam.