Explore artefacts made over a period of more than 1000 years in the heart of the Islamic world.
‘We saw indeed here so many apartments [and separate chambers], all of which were adorned in tile work of blue and gold with many other colours . . . and all was so marvellously wrought that even the craftsmen of Paris [, who are so noted for their skill,] would hold that which is done here to be of very fine workmanship.'
(From the account of the visit of the Castilian ambassador Ruy Gonzales de Clavijo to the court of Timur [Tamerlane] in 1403-06)
One of the glories of Islamic art is its architecture. Construction techniques varied between regions according to local knowledge, the availability of materials and differing climates. However, certain shapes and decorative motifs are shared throughout the Islamic world.
From the very first centuries of Islam, wealthy members of society paid for the creation of private and public buildings, like houses and palaces, mosques, tombs, shrines, fountains, and baths. Great emphasis was given to the architectural decoration of both interiors and exteriors. Stucco, stone, wood, mosaic, painting and tiles were used to cover and embellish the surfaces.
Glazed bricks and tiles played a major role in the decoration of Islamic buildings - the variety of the patterns and colours used at different times and places can be seen in the examples from our collection.