Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Thursday morning at the Louvre, Part II - Islamic Art

As an attempt to usher in 2008 on a positive note, I resolve to find more time to finish my travelogue. I still have more about Paris to mention before I can get to the Midi-Pyrenees!

After leaving the Medieval Objects d'Art area, we visited the Arts of Islam exhibit. As I mentioned before, approximately half of the characters in my book are from North Africa or Asia, so I felt it imperative to get a sense of their art.

To start off with, here's a map that was provided on the wall to give a quick sense geography.

Here is a mile marker from the year 705 with the name of Caliph 'Abd al-Malik.

Sometimes the most remarkable thing about looking at ancient artifacts is recognizing how much they resemble things we use today. As if the lives of people centuries ago were ones that we can identify with by everyday objects.

For example, look at this plate. It is identified as being from Iran and is dated to being from the 8th or 9th century.

It reminds me a lot of Folk Ark, a pattern produced by Pfaltzgraff.

It has the same colors, even if the floral design is not identical.

Here is another design for plates that I would buy if Pfaltzgraff (or another manufacturer of dinnerware offered it).

I present the griffin:

It is identified as being from Iraq in the tenth century. Having a mythological beast on a dinner plate beats floral designs any day for me.

To continue with the dinner theme, here are some forks from Iran dated to the 8th-9th century. They are a little rustic and broken, but they are clearly distinguishable as forks.

Then here is a whole collection of household items.

Here is one of my favorites, because I adore colored glass. I am not sure of where it was from or the time period, but I love the iridescence.

Then come some fragments of colored glass that is from Samarra, Iraq reportedly after the year 836. I am amazed that there was the technology for that kind of intricate design with glass all those years ago.

Next comes a tripod for incense that comes from Egypt in the 8th-9th century.

Here again is another intricately carved piece of ivory. It comes from Spain in the 10th century.

Here is a close-up picture so that you can see lions and what I think are musicians. Oh, to have such talent and patience to carve such a thing of beauty.

Then we have more mundane artifacts associated with gambling.

As well as the sport of kings otherwise known as chess.

In case you are having difficulty recognizing what it is. The object is the horse or knight piece. that comes from 9th century Iraq.

Next up are tombstones in a variety of sizes.

The last image I shall share with you comes from the Medieval underground portion of the Louvre where you can see where the moat was. It is difficult to make out, but on the individual bricks there are carved hearts which were the mark of the stone mason. I did not understand at first why I saw hearts in the bricks until I later saw a documentary about Guedelon and there was a mention of stone masons putting their marks on stones. The only way to see the marks is to zoom in. Bonne chance in seeing them!

The next time I shall share artwork that we visited just because we were in the Louvre and did a little sightseeing for fun and not only for research.

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