Gallery 2

SYMBOLS OF POWER & BEAUTY: THE COLLECTION OF THE ISLAMIC ARTS MUSEUM MALAYSIA

19 April – 31 August 2015

Islamic Arms and Armour represents the finest and most exquisite form of art produced in the Islamic world. Whether they are daggers, swords, or firearms, their decorations reflect the finest workmanship in gem stone setting, the best and most intricate calligraphy inlaid with gold and silver, as well as the state of the art in metallurgy. In the past, Arms and Armour often functioned as protective armours and arms in battlefields, as well as expressions of social status, being used in ceremonial gatherings and social celebrations. They were often presented as diplomatic gifts and worn by the nobility and elite as they were thought to empower their owner with mystical qualities. They reflected the pride of the society and were always portrayed in major epic stories in addition to being depicted in miniature paintings. The miniature paintings highlight the beauty and effectiveness of Islamic arms and illustrate the tactics and strategies that attest to the pre-eminence of Muslim Warfare.

This exhibition and accompanying catalogue displays artifacts from the IAMM collection, representing arms, armour and accessories from the Islamic world from as far west as North Africa to South East Asia. The accompanying catalogue which introduces over 200 artifacts from the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia’s collection is divided into 7 chapters.  The exhibition and publication covers royal commissions and craftsmen’s masterpieces, gunpowder and firearms as well as highlights the importance of the horse in association with arms and armour as depicted in miniature paintings. It also gives special attention to South East Asian arms and armour. The display and text is thus informative and parts of its content are being published for the first time.

The exhibition will present a historical overview of arms used during the Prophet Mohammed’s and his companions (sahabah)’s life.  This section will be followed by a display of the royal commissioned arms of the Qajar, Persian, and Ottoman sultans, as well as a section dedicated to the Malay World’s arms and armour.  The exhibition highlights a collection of outstanding swords and daggers from the Islamic world as well as displays the famous 17th -19th century manuscripts depicting arms and armours in their miniatures.

The exhibition stresses on the beauty and symbolism of Islamic arms and armour, and highlights its different usage; as part of the royal attire, in hunting and expeditions as well as in battlefields.

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