The Textile Collection of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha

The Textile Collection of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha

Joachim Gierlichs

(53rd Annual Meeting of the PIAC, St. Petersburg 2010)

The Museum of Islamic in Doha, Qatar, designed by the well known Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, has opened its doors to the public in December 2008 and houses one of the important collections of Islamic Art in the World. C. 750 objects from Spain to India and Central Asia are on display in 18 galleries and span nearby 1400 years (end of 7th to the beginning of the 20th century).

The collection contains more than 480 textiles coming from all parts of the Islamic world (mainly from Turkey, Iran and Central Asia), and even beyond, many of which are neither published nor well researched. From these 31 objects are on display in the galleries, they include Mughal, Ottoman, Safavid, Timurid and Mamluk carpets, Fatimid tiraz, textiles from Turkey, India and Nasrid Spain, two Mongolian robes (Il-Khanid period) and a door hanging from the Ka’ba in Mecca (late Ottoman). In addition to this a more than 6 m long hizam (monumental calligraphic band from the Ka’ba) is displayed in the museum library.

Textiles coming from Central Asia and the steppe regions include:

  • About 20 Mongolian textiles mainly from costumes
  • Three pre-Islamic carpet fragments (c. 1 BCE – c l CE)
  • An Islamic pre-Mongolian complete robe
  • Several textiles c. 10th — c. 11th CE, attributable to the Liao dynasty.

In total about 150+ Central Asian costumes, carpets but mainly non-pile tapestry woven rugs, textiles including fragments in all categories.

I will focus in my paper on the following rare and important objects:

  1. Three pre-Islamic carpet fragments
  2. A complete pre-Mongolian robe
  3. Central Asian Mongolian costumes