“In the Moment” at the Aga Khan Museum. A Reflection by Alyna Nanji

By Alyna Nanji, exclusive for Ismailimail.

Perhaps it’s the beauty of the treasures of the Imam, or perhaps it’s the pure mystery engraved into the painted doors. Perhaps it’s the long tunnels that whirlwind you into the magnificent wonders of Istanbul. Either way, all those who have been here will agree that the peace, beauty, and serenity contained in the Aga Khan Museum is like no other.

A six meters long double sided tapestry ‘Your Way Begins on the Other Sides’ by Aisha Khalid. (Photo by Alyna Nanji)
A six meters long double sided tapestry ‘Your Way Begins on the Other Sides’ by Aisha Khalid. The tapestry has gold-plated and stainless steel pins protruding to the other side of the front clad in velvet and silk to create another pattern on the hind side (not shown). (Photo by Alyna Nanji)

When entering the Aga Khan Museum, I was entranced by the positive vibe that seemed to fill me whole. For all those whose minds thirst for knowledge, be sure to visit the “Museum Collections” where you will not be disappointed by the wide range of interesting artifacts from centuries and millenniums ago. The wide range of knowledge in this exhibit left many shocked and craving more. The Museum Collections held many items that I was surprised and even slightly humoured by, when I learned of its use.

An example of ornamented door with carved motifs in the Museum Collection (Photo by Alyna Nanji)
An example of ornamented door with carved motifs in the Museum Collection (Photo by Alyna Nanji)

“Dozens of keys, lying there for ages. I dare not throw them away, with no lock around.” This is just one of the many pieces of poetry painted on the walls of the doors exhibit. The exhibit on the doors are not at all what you would first expect. The exhibit is based on doors however the doors are painted on separate canvasses and arranged in the form of a maze. Anyone can get lost  in wonder due to their sheer beauty. Although the doors are painted, they look so real that you would have to have extreme self control not to touch what looks like the chipped wood on the door and realizing that it is only just a painting. When observing these doors it is so easy to drift off into your imagination while listening to the beautiful music of birdsong. The doors itself are painted to look old and chipped but secured with sturdy padlocks. The doors invoke your curiosity while making you wonder what the artist envisioned behind those doors. In this exhibit although fictional, watching the doors makes you crave for the key into the artists mind.

From the doors exhibit you travel straight and are whisked into the tunnels of Istanbul. Istanbul was an adventure in itself. I walked straight into the films of Abbas Kiarostami, where I found myself staring at the lapping waves in the Caspian Sea, watching people walk back and forward in front of the camera. I watched how gulls and pigeons and other birds strutted in pride showing off their beauty. The movie has no dialogue or sound but leaves it up to the imagination. “To collect photographs is to collect the world” by Susan Sontag. After exiting the Film screening you see vibrant photos and paintings that make your brain spin in amazement of the glory of Istanbul and its history.

The Bellerive room holds the collection of Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan. This room holds a great level of serenity to it, and you can lie back on the circular couch and relax while enjoying the intricate design of the collection.

My mind wanders in amazement, my curiosity encourages more exploration … I will be back, again and again!

“In the Moment” by Alyna Nanji,  is a spontaneous reflection inspired by the spaces and exhibits at the Aga Khan Museum.

About Alyna Nanji

Alyna Nanji is 14 years old and is in Grade 9. Since the age of 8, Alyna has been a Peace Tree International Ambassador for promoting peace, diversity and inclusivity, and gender equality at every opportunity.

Some of Alyna’s achievements include:

PBS Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly's Lucky Severson interviews Alyna Nanji (Image credit: Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly)
PBS Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly’s Lucky Severson interviews Alyna Nanji (Image credit: Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly)

In May 2015, PBS Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly interviewed Alyna following an interview with His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan which was featured in a special PBS show on His Highness the Aga Khan & the Ismaili Muslims.

In April 2014, Alyna spoke at the One Billion Rising Movement annual event held in Toronto, As the youngest speaker at the event, Alyna spoke on the issues of violence against women and children.

Alyna was the keynote speaker at the 2012 inaugural International Day of the Girl hosted by the United Nations Association in Canada, Toronto Branch (UNACTO) where she passionately spoke out against gendercide and infanticide.

In 2013, she served as the youngest panelist at the 2013 International Day of the Girl hosted by UNACTO.

Earlier & Related: Alyna Nanji

Author: ismailimail

Civil society media.   Find Ismailimail blog on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

2 thoughts

  1. Very well done, Alyna! Keep up the wonderful work and share your wise reflections with your peers! All the best in all your endeavours.


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