Shahnameh, Canon on display at Islamic arts exhibit in London

Posted July 13th, 2007 by Indian-Muslim

London, July 12, IRNA, An illustrated folio from the Persian epic Shahnameh and an extremely rare copy of Ibn Sina’s Canon of Medicine are at the centerpiece of Islamic masterpieces on display at a ‘Spirit & Life’ exhibition, opening in London on Saturday.

The six-week exhibition includes over 165 displays of textiles, exquisite miniatures, rare manuscripts, ceramics, precious pages from the Qur’an, scientific medical texts, books of fables, and tiles.

The manuscript of Shahnameh (or Book of Kings), made for the Safavid ruler of Persia Shah Tahmasb, is decorated with 258 miniatures, attributable to almost all of the major Persian artists of the first half of the 16th century.

It is universally acknowledged as not only one of the finest illustrated manuscripts of any period but also among the greatest works of art in the world.

Indian Muslims

The poetic opus, which is among UNESCO’s list of cultural heritages, was written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi, who spent almost 35 years composing the 30,000 couplets that tells the mythical and historical past of Iran up until the advent of Islam.

The Canon of Medicine by Persian physician and philosopher Ibn Sina (Avicenna) is described as the single most influential text in the history of medicine.

Such was its usefulness that from its origins in the early 11th century in western Iran, it was used all over the Middle East and Europe as the standard medical text for a period of five centuries.

The exhibition, which is being held at the Islmaeli Centre, also includes a dervish’s begging bowl made in the form of a boat, with a wide band of elegant inscriptions in Persian. It is one of five important Safavid examples from the end of the 16th century.

There is also a slip-decorated pottery dish decorated with interlacing patterns of geometry and calligraphy, which was produced in the eastern Iranian world of the 10th century.

The displays also include three folios from the Akhlaq-i Naseri, a philosophical treatise divided into three discourses, dealing with ethics, social justice and politics, which was written by Persian philosopher Naser al-Din Tousi.

Organisers said that the Islamic masterpieces “underlines that the arts, particularly when they are spiritually inspired, can become a medium of discourse that transcends the barriers of our day-to-day experiences.”

They said that many questions are currently being raised in the West about the Muslim world, with countless misconceptions and misunderstandings, and hoped the exhibition to help enlighten the Western intellectuals about treasure of the Islamic civilization.

Indian Muslims

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, its achievements and humanitarian works.

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