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Singular perfection
Photo essay: Victoria & Albert Museum's Islamic Gallery in London

Mehrdad Aref-Adib
August 7, 2006

A three-year-long renovation and re-design of the new Victoria & Albert Museum's Islamic Gallery in London has created a new home for the collection. The Jameel Gallery houses over 400 objects, including ceramics, textiles, carpets, metalwork, glass and woodwork, which date from the days of the Islamic caliphate of the 8th and 9th centuries to the years preceding the First World War. The area covered stretches from Spain in the west to Uzbekistan and Afghanistan in the east, taking in important centres of artistic production in the Arab lands, Turkey and Iran. The highlight of the Gallery is the Ardabil Carpet, the world's oldest dated carpet and one of the largest, most beautiful and historically important in the world. Made in Iran in 1539 the carpet is the centre-piece of the new Gallery, which has been redesigned so that it can be displayed horizontally at floor level, as it would originally have been. Measuring an impressive 10.5m x 5m and described by William Morris as a design of "singular perfection‚" it is a masterpiece of Islamic art.

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Mehrdad Aref-Adib

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