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Art Of Islam Exhibition


A priceless collection of objects made for princes, shahs and sultans, will go on display in Auckland this month when Auckland Museum opens The Art of Islam: treasures from Kuwait.

Considered one of the finest collections of its kind in the world, The Art of Islam presents rare objects of exceptional beauty, and spans a thousand years and a geographical sweep from Spain to Iraq to India.

Begun in 1975 by Sheik Nasir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah and his wife Sheikha Hussah Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah, the collection presents the art rather than the religion of Islam.

Objects include 10th century glass and porcelain, fine carpets and ceramics, gem encrusted jewellery and exquisite gold-leaf texts from the Koran. Perhaps the most notable object from the collection is a brass astrolabe made in Bagdad and dated 927AD. Used for measuring planetary movements and for determining the direction of Mecca, which all Muslims face during prayer, the astrolabe is dated 927AD and is the earliest known example in existence.

The Al Sabah collection from which this exhibition is drawn, was taken from Kuwait on the orders of Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War, and was later repatriated by the UN. It has been touring the world ever since and is on loan from Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait National Museum. It is indemnified by the New Zealand Government.

The Art of Islam is on display from 17 April until 15 June 2003. -more forward-

For more information contact: Karyn Clare: 09 306 7084 /

Notes for editors Admission – special double deal: $10 adults; $7.50 concessions. Alternatively, see both Islamic Art & Patronage and Magnum Photos’ 50th anniversary exhibition Our Turning World, for the joint price of $12 adults; $9 concession.

Events Sunday 20 April: Islamic Art Living Treasures Day Activities include: a lecture from University of Auckland enthnomusicologist, Dr Greg Booth, on “Music in the worlds of Islam”, plus Islamic folk tales and documentary screenings.

Lecture series: The Art of Islam Monday 28th April, 7.30pm. University of Auckland lecturer, Dr Ashraf Anwar presents: “The religion, art and visual culture of Muslim Spain.” Auckland Museum. Gold coin donation.

Monday 5th May, 7.30pm. Nabeel Zuberi, lecturer in film and media studies at The University of Auckland, discusses "Islam in popular culture", including modern Islamic art forms in film and music. Auckland Museum. Gold coin donation.

Monday 12th May, 7.30pm. Asian studies lecturer at Auckland University, Dr Tim Behrend, speaks on "Islamic communities in Indonesia", with special reference to historic Islamic texts. He will bring in some of his personal collection of historic manuscripts for the audience to view. Auckland Museum. Gold coin donation.

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