It was a wonderfully and refreshing rainy day here in Doha when I visited the special Traveling Through Arts and Times Exhibition held at Carnegie Mellon University. A rainy day here is like a sunny day, in London, in November.
The rain smelt great and the pitter-patter of the drops was like music.
The walk to the university leaves one pondering what is it with the effect of Ancient Egypt on modern architecture…
Which is in stark contrast with this tomato red car that greets you just outside the front door.
Apparently it’s a 1955 Ford Crown Victoria/Sedan. Why it’s there and who it belongs to was not otherwise specified, so being a car-ignoramous, I walked on.
The exhibition was divided into three parts: manuscripts, Islamic arts, and Qatari heritage. There was a total of 160 pieces on display, but obviously I cannot put each one of them here.
Manuscripts consisted of everything from the Holy Quran and prayer scrolls, to comments and translations of rituals of the Islamic legislation.
Mostly intricately written and ordained in gold and decorated in floral designs.
The Arts part was beautifully varied in content, everything from plates and tiles depicting courting couples, flora, and fauna, to water jugs, urns, kettles, oil lamps, tapestry, boxes, decorative items, and weaponry.
I was very pleased to see a prominent presence of Iraqi artifacts, among other countries like India, Spain, Russia, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Syria, Egypt, and “South Arabia,” which I assume indicates the Yemen.
The above plate is Irani. It looks like a horned devil, with a star on his head, carrying a double sword very much like what is known Ali bin Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) and a shield in his two human hands, with a body and legs of some sort of animal. Chilling.
This Spanish urn is luxuriously decorated in gold and lion heads.
Blue and turquoise are favorites in Islamic art, although to be properly Islamic art is not to depict humans or animals.
The above tile depicting a courting couple looks far eastern European to me, I wonder why the woman is playing the lute to the man, instead of the other way around. The collar of the man also looks very much like the cross or a famous ancient Egyptian symbol, so I doubt this was made by Muslim hands.
This is my favorite piece, proving the domestication and tameness of cats from long long ago.
An India keepsake box, made of leather and ivory with beautiful detailed claws for feet.
This winged lion is so reminiscent of Babylon.
I am almost sure this oil lamp came straight from Aladdin’s cave. It was behind glass, so I was unable to give it a rub.
Look at the kitty in the bottom right hand square!
Oh, and the Emperor and his wife in the top square, too.
A very ornate wiggly sword and lamb-headed dagger from India.
For the third and final part, Qatari heritage:
Traditional men’s and women’s dress.
This part of exhibition focuses on the first rulers of Qatar and their battle of independence from Ottoman rule, displaying rifles, gun powder barrels, and leather water pouches used at the time.
The above is a model Bedouin tent constructed in the 1970’s.
Arabic coffee: an integral part of Arabian hospitality.
A mirror belonging to the grandson of the man who won Qatar’s independence from the Ottomans, HH Sheikh Ali bin Abdulla bin Qassem bin Mohammed bin Thani. He was also the first Qatari ruler to travel abroad for political relations.
This peacock mirror was a gift to him on one of his official visits to India.
Such an earthenware urn has been used for centuries throughout the Arabian peninsula as well as the entire world. An unglazed baked earthenware urn has magical properties: it keeps water fresh and cool, and it also preserves the water and enriches it nutritionally. Many internal medicine doctors highly recommend drinking water from such a container versus our everyday plastic water bottles.
Qatar’s main source of income pre-natural gas discovery was from pearls. The fantastic dhow are traditional boats build to take the pearl divers out to sea. Today they are gathered at the Corniche and take tourists for a brief trip along the coast.
Above is a net divers tie onto themselves whilst diving to put the oysters in.
And here are the beauties, gleaming like a flawless full moon in a cloudless night.
It’s such a shame this fine art and tradition of pearl diving got lost in modernization.