Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Afghan Art - Tradition & Continuity at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

Parwin Raufy, wood carver at Turquoise Mountain
Here is good news coming out of Afghanistan: the revival of traditional arts, craft and architecture.

Turquoise Mountain was established in 2006 in Kabul, under the patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales and the President of Afghanistan. The organisation founded an Institute of Traditional Afghan Arts and Architecture with four craft schools – calligraphy and miniature painting, woodwork, jewellery, and ceramics – and has undertaken a major urban regeneration project in Murad Khane, the centre of the old city of Kabul.

In a conflict-ridden society with a debilitated economy, Turquoise Mountain provides education and employment for over 400 students, teachers, engineers, architects, and construction workers.

An outstanding exhibition, titled Ferozkoh, showcasing 37 works of students and teachers from Turquoise Mountain opened on 20 March in Doha's iconic, I.M Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art. It runs until 22 June and if you are travelling via Qatar to anywhere this should be your first stop.

The exhibition's theme is the preservation of Islamic art in the modern world. It showcases four of the great empires of Afghanistan and their material culture - the Ghaznavids, Timurids, Mughal and Safavids.  (The Timurid empire was founded by Uzbekistan's national hero Amir Timur and the Mughal empire by his descendant Babur).

The Afghan artists, who visited Doha in 2012, have used the MIA permanent collection as inspiration for their own works. During their time at the museum, they researched the collection, kept visual diaries and had the freedom to experience the rich variety of Islamic art in the museum.

Afghan work on paper from the Ferozkoh exhibtion
Each artist proposed ideas for objects that they would design and create when they returned to Kabul. Objects from the MIA collection have been twinned with 37 objects created by the Turquoise Mountain students and teachers.

According to the MIA's publicity "these works demonstrate how Afghan artisans have renewed their traditions through effort, wit, skill and imagination. It symbolises, in the most positive way, a deep sense of Afghan pride.

It brings together artisans working in very different traditions using different materials - from calligraphic designs chiselled into walnut, to ceramic bowls thrown by potters but carved by woodworkers. The students and teachers dedicate themselves to Islamic art, and many are absolute masters of their crafts. This is true of each one of the pieces for this exhibition".

Watch the inspiring 2-minute video clip below about the exhibition. You may also consider supporting the artists by purchasing their exquisite works through the Turquoise Mountain website, which includes brief bios of the artists. 
 [If the clip does not appear on your device, view it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfCLJFL4KB0]

Related posts: White Silk Road - Snowboarding Afghanistan 
Turkmen Jewellery at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art 
Islamic Galleries Reopen at New York's Met




Related posts: White Silk Road - Snowboarding Afghanistan 
Turkmen Jewellery at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art 
Islamic Galleries Reopen at New York's Met