Of all Islamic cultures, it is Persia that has received the most attention. Somewhat neglected by scholarship are ceramics of the Qajar era. The period from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century was a time of change everywhere; nowhere more so than in this empire that tried to open itself to the world while retaining traditions that go back millennia.
Qajar Ceramics – Bridging Tradition and Modernity is about an artistic transition, featuring a diversity of ceramic objects from the collection of the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia. The exhibition offers a closer look at the distinctive characteristics of Qajar ceramics, highlighting their forms, aesthetics, and themes. These objects point us to a story of vigour and resilience behind the Persian artistic expression.
Craftsmen and artists of Qajar ceramics employed a range of decorative themes. One of such is the use of human imagery, which regularly included the depiction of religious icons; figures of Qajar royalty, such as Fath ‘Ali Shah and Nasir al-Din Shah; as well as legendary characters from Persian epics, such as the Shahnameh or Khamseh of Nezami.
Floral motifs were used widely as decoration. Applied within stone carvings, stuccos, mirror works, tiles, and fretwork, its flexibility owes much to the circular motion of leaves and branches. Animal motifs, already important and prevalent in Persian art, found a new chapter during the Qajar era, where various naturalistic patterns of lions, horses, dragons, and birds came to use.
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