On Saturday, Kristin and I went to see a special exhibition of Islamic art at the IMA. After all, what’s more Christmasy than learning about a culture that doesn’t celebrate Christmas?
The exhibition is really great (props to Brigham Young University Museum of Art, the organizing institution), so if you’re in the Indianapolis area, I highly recommend it. It’s open through January 13.
Unfortunately, photography was not allowed, so you’ll have to go to the museum yourself, or you can see a few highlights on BYU’s website (although thumbnail pictures don’t do this stuff justice!)
The prior day’s snow made for some good outfit photos…I felt like a little snow bunny in my cozy sweater!
I’ll be honest: I knew basically nothing about Islam before – and obviously one afternoon is not going to teach me everything there is to know about a centuries-old religion and culture – but I feel at least a little more familiar after this exhibition.
First of all, Arabic calligraphy is beautiful, and there are so many different styles. Some pieces looked so bold and avant-garde that I thought they were modern, but they were actually from the 18th century. Mind blown.
I also learned that while pictorial representations aren’t allowed in objects for religious/worshipping purposes, they are allowed for everyday, secular objects.
Islamic art also has a strong emphasis on pattern and rhythm. There are lots of repeating patterns, which parallel religious chants. The chants are considered “the heartbeat of Islam.” There was even one room of the exhibition that had a huge painting with a circular pattern and a chant was playing over the speakers. I seriously felt like I was going to be sucked into the middle of the painting. Mind blown. Again.
Oh, and there was jewelry! Big surprise here: I was drawn to the things you could wear. There was one really cool gold cuff that had three-dimensional doves all over it, and the inside had an Arabic inscription that said something like “joy and happiness to its owner.” Unfortunately, there were no cheap replicas of that bracelet in the gift shop, but there was this necklace, which Kristin and I bought together so we can share it:
Hopefully you can see in the picture that on top of the veins of the leaf, there’s some Arabic calligraphy. The translation is roughly: The best people are the ones that help other people.
So in case you’re one of those people that just associates Islam with terrorism, here’s the real deal…In the end, it comes down to the same philosophy as every other religion: Don’t be an asshole. There might be some difference of opinion on the details, but in the end…just don’t be an asshole. So for the love of Allah, let’s stop fighting about our differences and celebrate the ways we’re all the same.
I wish you all a happy and peaceful December 25th, whether or not you know it’s Christmas.
Turtleneck: Target, old
Dress: H&M, old but I’ve seen similar in stores recently
Sweater: Victoria’s Secret, old (similar here)
Necklace: J. Crew, old (similar here)