Aga Khan Museum

A friend and I visited the Aga Khan Museum this weekend. A very knowledgeable and enthusiastic docent began our visit with an introduction on the design of the building by architect: Fumihiko Maki. He was given the theme of light as his inspiration. An interior courtyard brings light into the center of the building and provides a lovely outdoor space in warm weather.

Leaf from a Qur'an Manuscript North Africa, 9th-10th centuries ink and gold on blue-dyed vellum
Leaf from a Qur’an Manuscript
North Africa, 9th-10th centuries
ink and gold on blue-dyed vellum

Artifacts that are centuries old have colours, textures and designs that seem modern and timeless.

Oculus Syria, Late 12th-early 13th century Fritware, molded and glazed
Oculus
Syria, Late 12th-early 13th century
Fritware, molded and glazed

The museum’s collection of pottery, glass, metalwork, and calligraphy is a source of inspiration.

Bottle Probably Iran, 9th-10th centuries Glass, wheel-cut
Bottle
Probably Iran, 9th-10th centuries
Glass, wheel-cut

The mosaic tiles in the fountain can be translated directly into quilt blocks.

Fountain Syria, 16th century and later Marble and sandstone mosaic
Fountain
Syria, 16th century and later
Marble and sandstone mosaic

Turquoise, blue, and gold colours found in the pottery, are some of my favourites and I imagine them in a project.

Muqarnas (Squinch) Elements probably Samarquand, Uzbekistan, late 14th-early 15th centuries Fritware, carved and glazed
Muqarnas (Squinch) Elements
probably Samarquand, Uzbekistan, late 14th-early 15th centuries
Fritware, carved and glazed
Muqarnas (Squinch) Elements probably Samarquand, Uzbekistan, late 14th-early 15th centuries Fritware, carved and glazed
Muqarnas (Squinch) Elements – detail

More designs that can be directly translated into quilt blocks. Also Ideas for arranging the blocks in various configurations.

Box Spain 16th century Wood inlaid with bone, wood and mother-of-pearl
Chest
Spain 16th century
Wood inlaid with bone, wood and mother-of-pearl
Candlestick Anatolia, Turkey, 14th century' Copper, tin, and zinc alloy, inlaid with silver and gold
Candlestick
Anatolia, Turkey, 14th century’
Copper, tin, and zinc alloy, inlaid with silver and gold

The circular design in the candlestick above reminds me of the New York Beauty block. I can imagine this block on a solid background and heavily quilted with angular lines like in the background above.

Bowl Nishapur, Iran, 10th century Earthenware, slip-painted and glazed
Bowl
Nishapur, Iran, 10th century
Earthenware, slip-painted and glazed

Two dishes in the collection look very modern. I loved the simplicity and elegance of the designs. More information for both of these pieces and many others are available on the museum website in the Collection Highlights tab.

Bowl Nishapur, Iran, early 11th century Earthenware, slip-painted and glazed
Bowl
Nishapur, Iran, early 11th century
Earthenware, slip-painted and glazed
Flying Carpet, 2007 by Farhad Moshiri b. 1963, lives and works in Tehran and Paris 32 stacked macine-made carpets
Flying Carpet, 2007 by
Farhad Moshiri
b. 1963, lives and works in Tehran and Paris
32 stacked macine-made carpets

Although the Aga Khan Museum features historical cultural artifacts from Islamic civilizations, it also features contemporary artwork. The piece above: Flying Carpet by Farhad Moshiri is a stack of 32 machine-made carpets that has a fighter plane cut out of the centre. The artist, Moshiri, was inspired by a documentary on Afghan carpet weavers. They had been incorporating modern technologies into the design of the carpets – planes, drones and other military armaments.

Flying Carpet, 2007 by Farhad Moshiri b. 1963, lives and works inTehran and Paris 32 stacked macine-made carpets
Flying Carpet – overhead view by Farhad Moshiri

Another special exhibit on display until March 26, 2017 is Syria: A Living History. This exhibit contains historical artifacts and contemporary artwork illustrating the diverse culture and history of Syria. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed in this exhibit, so you will have to visit the museum to see the collections in person. The grounds around the museum are also worth visiting – I will need to return in the spring when the weather is a bit warmer!