“We in general view Islam as a single cultural identity, and this is simply a wrong perception, because Islam over 13 centuries has been a religion practiced by a great diversity of people,” he said.
From the western end of the Islamic world, the exhibit showcases artifacts such as an inlaid scribe’s cabinet and an astrolabe from “al-Andalus,” the area of Spain ruled by the Moors until 1492. It also includes pages from the “blue Quran,” inscribed in gold on blue-dyed parchment, from North Africa.
From the other end, an 18th-century Quran from India inscribed in tiny lettering on green cloth occupies part of a wall, contrasting with a geometrically styled edition of the Quran from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
The exhibit also includes 19th-century Chinese pilgrim Ma Fuchu’s illustrated report on his pilgrimage to Mecca; a well-preserved Mongol robe from the 13th or 14th century; and illustrations of the epic Persian poem Shahnama (Book of Kings).
Organizers sought to highlight the importance of the written word and the Quran, while also following the routes of travelers, both those making the pilgrimage to Mecca and adventurers and explorers, curator Benoit Junod said.
The show, titled “Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum – Masterpieces of Islamic Art,” continues through June 6.