When it comes to Islamic creativity archives, hardly anywhere else in Malaysia boasts the repertoire of the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM). It’s a place you could spend hours absorbing sights and information from various exhibits, including the ones in its permanent galleries – Architecture, Qur’ans & Manuscripts, India, China, Malay World, Textiles, Jewellery, Arms & Armour, Coins & Seals, Metalwork, Ceramic & Glass and Living with Wood.
From now until the year-end, IAMM brings another addendum to its collection with the Qajar Ceramics – Bridging Tradition and Modernity exhibition, that gives centre stage to pottery from the Qajar era of late eighteenth to the early twentieth century Persia.
According to IAMM, the exhibition is about an artistic transition, featuring a variety of ceramic objects the museum accumulated, with an in-depth look at the prevalent characteristics of the prized Qajar ceramics. Their forms, aesthetics, and themes in particular are highlighted, exploring the undertow of vigour and resilience behind the Persian artistic expression.
During their reign, the Qajar dynasty had allowed inspiration from the outside world to seep in, without sacrificing the long-held tenets and traditions that define its culture. As the nineteenth century rolled by, Persia became a familiar face at world expositions, effectively drawing international demand for its goods, ceramics included. The country saw itself in a transitional mode as it sought to be on par with Europe and reshape its future.
In Qajar ceramics, the style and techniques oscillated between pre-Islamic ancestry, their Safavid roots, religious Ulama perceptions, and westernisation (farangi ma’abi). The ceramics depict the influences from any and all of these phases, as artistic liberties were taken when selecting and applying the designs.
Eminent individuals, such as Fath ‘Ali Shah, and legends plucked from Persian epics, like Khamseh of Nezami, were among the heavily used decorative motifs. Patterns of flora and fauna were common too, with circular spreads of foliage and likenesses of lions, horses, birds and other animals coming into play. Naturally, inscriptions alluding to the Qajar Empire were another popular cosmetic trend.
Where Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur
When 9.30am-6pm, closed Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Until 31 Dec)
Admission RM14 (adult), RM7 (student with ID and senior citizen), Free (child under 6)
Tel 03 2092 7070