Collections from the Islamic World

Over the past six months staff and volunteers in the Ethnology department have been unpacking, re-storing, documenting and photographing NML's little known Islamic collection.

This fascinating collection ranges from 12th century painted dishes from Iran, to 15th centruy pottery sherds from Fostat, an important trading centre in Egypt, to modern day tourist souvenirs. To whet your appetite here's an image of a wonderful dish from 12th - 13th century Iran showing a huntsman riding his sturdy horse.

A deep dish painted with a royal blue background and intermitant red spots. In the centre of the dish is a man, in his right hand he holds a spear and appears as if ready to lunge at an out of view animal. He rides a sturdy black horse, which is in profile. The horse wears a red bridle which completes the man's beautiful red that is decorated with a repeat pattern of small sprigs of white blossom.

12th - 13th century dish from Iran, showing a hunting scene.

Having unpacked the collection it was clear that it needed more attention and research. With the help of the Museum Partnerships department we have secured a grant from the Museums Association's Effective Collections scheme. This grant will pay for an Islamic specialist to come and review the collection and make recomendations as to how we can best use the collection, which might include new displays at NML, loans to other organisations or possibly more research into the collection's history.

I'll keep you posted on how the review goes and what we plan to do next.