Posts Tagged ‘islam’

Photo: Nils Herrmann, Cartier Collection via Dallas Museum of Art.
From the Dallas exhibition: Tiara, Cartier London, special order, 1936; Bandeau, Cartier Paris, special order, 1923; Bandeau, Cartier Paris, 1922.

Even though this blog is based at my daughter’s jewelry company (where it’s been known to reassure an anxious online shopper that Luna & Stella is “good people”), I was encouraged to be eclectic, and I don’t write about jewelry that often.

But today I want to tell you about a jewelry exhibit in Dallas that’s unusual. It’s all about how designs in Islamic art influenced the renowned jewelry company Cartier.

Shirin Jaafari reports at Public Radio International’s the World, “The name Cartier has been synonymous with opulence and luxury going back nearly two centuries. British King Edward VII described Cartier as the ‘jeweler of kings and king of jewelers,’ according to Francesca Cartier Brickell, whose ancestors founded the company in 1847.

“Now, a new exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art [DMA] called ‘Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity,’ tells the story of how some Cartier pieces were inspired by Islamic art. …

“The family business was started in Paris by Louis-François Cartier and later, his son and grandsons took over. They expanded the company and found inspiration from the art and designs of places such as Russia, India and the Middle East.

In 1903, Louis-François Cartier visited the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, which was running an exhibition on Islamic art.

“That was the beginning of Louis-François Cartier’s fascination with the format, shapes and techniques used in Islamic art.

“ ‘There were a series of major exhibitions that were happening in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century, and of course, with things like the Ballets Russes and “Scheherazade.” … So, there becomes this big zeitgeist, synergistic sort of moment of interest, and that really spurs this as a sort of source of a modern expression,’ said Sarah Schleuning, senior curator of decorative arts and design at the Dallas Museum of Art.

“Louis-François Cartier collected pieces from those exhibitions — Persian miniatures, cigar boxes with geometric designs and photos of Islamic architecture. And slowly, those designs were incorporated into Cartier pieces.

“ ‘It looks like this colonnade of arches, and we were able to trace back this connection with a mosque in Cairo and these photographs that were in the Cartier archives,’ she said. ‘It was something that was exhibited at the 1903 exhibition of Islamic art at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.’

“Cartier clients would often have their own gemstones and asked Cartier to design around them, Schleuning explained. But the company also sourced its own material from different parts of the world.

“For example, in the fall of 1911, Jacques Cartier, the youngest son of Alfred Cartier and grandson of the company’s founder Louis-Francoise Cartier, set off on a trip to India. Along the way, he visited the Gulf country of Bahrain, where pearl diving was popular. …

“Schleuning pointed out that we know a lot about how Cartier pieces came together because the family meticulously documented everything.

“ ‘These books and portfolios and resources were available to the designers as was the fact that the works of art that Louis privately collected, he photographed,’ she said.

“One diamond and turquoise tiara has the Persian motif boteh or what’s become known in the West as paisley, as the main part of its design. …

“Schleuning said that a part of the project at the Dallas museum is to connect Cartier’s designs with the sources that inspired them. The bandeau is just one example.

“ ‘[It’s] to say, “Hey this wasn’t just a phenomenal colonnade of arches but this came probably from this mosque in Cairo and here, we can trace that and so now, we’re broadening that understanding,” ‘ she said.

“The exhibition is a collaboration between the Dallas Museum of Art, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and Maison Cartier. It runs until Sept. 18.”

Jean Scheidnes at Texas Monthly adds a thought: “I found myself wrestling with the question of appropriation, because we must. My assessment after absorbing the show is that no single tradition could have given rise to Cartier style. Only Cartier, with its unique alchemy of inputs and individual creativity, could give us Cartier. This show is here to recognize and honor the Islamic influence, and it taught me a lot.”

More at Texas Monthly, here, and the World, here. (No firewall. Great journalism.)

Read Full Post »

Last month, Steve Curwood of the radio show Living on Earth covered a special conference on climate change.

“Curwood: A coalition of 80 leading Islamic clerics, scholars and officials meeting in Istanbul has issued a declaration on climate change, ‘calling on all nations and peoples to phase out greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.’ …

“Islamic nations, including wealthy oil-producing states, are taking action on global warming, says Wael Hmaidan. He’s director of Climate Action Network International, one of the conference organizers and joins us now from Istanbul. …

“Hmaidan: I was really happily surprised by how rigorous the Koran and the Islamic teachings on the environment and the care for the planet. It’s a core function of Islam to care for the planet. It’s a responsibility. … It talks about the delicate balance that all the creatures have on Earth and it’s the responsibility of humans to protect this balance.

“It also talks actually about how humankind should not think that they are more important than other creatures. It talks about the role of all creatures and the need of respect, this diversity in the planet. So all of these kinds of proverbs from the Koran and the Islamic teachings, as well as stories about Prophet Mohammed’s life and his care for the environment clearly [makes] environmental care and climate change key issue for an Islamic teaching. And hearing strong statements saying that it is forbidden not to phase out greenhouse gas emissions coming from Islamic scholars is something very inspiring, even for climate activists. …

“There’s an agreement to establish an informal group … that will follow up on all the ideas that came out from the conference. And the ideas are varied, some of them are high-level, like I mentioned going to the UN agencies, to governments, but also the representatives of the organizations that attended want to create action plans in their communities of influence, to bring the declaration. … We need to transform all mosques to renewable energy, and so on. So a lot of ideas, and they’ve created this platform Muslims for Climate to continue the dialogue.”

More here.

Photo: Islamic Relief
Mohamed Ashmawey, CEO of Islamic Relief Worldwide and one of the Climate Change Symposium organizers addresses attendees.

Read Full Post »

In case you missed it, the NY Times had a great story on the discovery of ancient fragments of the Quran (or Koran) in Birmingham, England, of all places, where they had been long overlooked.

Dan Bilefsky writes, “The ancient manuscript, written on sheep or goat skin, sat for nearly a century at a university library, with scholars unaware of its significance.

“That is, until Alba Fedeli, a researcher at the University of Birmingham studying for her doctorate, became captivated by its calligraphy and noticed that two of its pages appeared misbound alongside pages of a similar Quranic manuscript from a later date.

“The scripts did not match. Prodded by her observations, the university sent the pages out for radiocarbon testing.

“[In July], researchers at the University of Birmingham revealed the startling finding that the fragments appeared to be part of what could be the world’s oldest copy of the Quran, and researchers say it may have been transcribed by a contemporary of the Prophet Muhammad.

” ‘We were bowled over, startled indeed,’ said David Thomas, a professor of Christianity and Islam at the University of Birmingham, after he and other researchers learned recently of the manuscript’s provenance.”

The manuscript fragments are estimated to be at least 1,370 years old.

Lots more here.

Video: BBC, by way of Youtube

Read Full Post »

When I got my current job, I went through the human resources “onboarding” with a young man from Mali. Even though he went back to Africa a couple years ago, we keep in touch. Naturally, I was worried when radicals took over Timbuktu, Mali, for a while. Fortunately, Mamoudou wasn’t living in Mali at the time, although he says Guinea is not that much safer.

Because of Mamoudou, I continue to follow the Mali news, and was especially interested in a link at the Arts Journal blog today: “Mali’s Underground Railroad: How Timbuktu’s Ancient Manuscripts Were Smuggled To Safety.”

Writes Sudarsan Raghavan of the Washington Post, “It was 7 o’clock on a hot night in August, and Hassine Traore was nervous. Behind him were 10 donkeys, each strapped with two large rice bags filled with ancient manuscripts. The bags were covered in plastic to shield them from a light rain.”

Radicals had taken over Timbuktu four months earlier and “had demolished the tombs of Sufi saints. They had beaten up women for not covering their faces and flogged men for smoking or drinking. They most certainly would have burned the manuscripts — nearly 300,000 pages on a variety of subjects, including the teachings of Islam, law, medicine, mathematics and astronomy — housed in public and private libraries across the city.”The scholarly documents depicted Islam as a historically moderate and intellectual religion and were considered cultural treasures  …

“A secret operation had been set in motion … It included donkeys, safe houses and smugglers, all deployed to protect the manuscripts by sneaking them out of town.

“This is the story of how nearly all the documents were saved, based on interviews with an unlikely cast of characters who detailed their roles for the first time. They included Traore, a 30-year-old part-time janitor, and his grandfather, a guard. …

“The New York-based Ford Foundation, the German and Dutch governments, and an Islamic center in Dubai provided most of the funds for the operation, which cost about $1 million.

“ ‘We took a big risk to save our heritage,’ said Abdel Kader Haidara, a prominent preservationist who once loaned 16th- and 18th-century manuscripts from his family’s private collection to the Library of Congress. ‘This is not only the city’s heritage, it is the heritage of all humanity.’ ”

There are heroes everywhere, keeping a low profile. And I am also pretty impressed with the funders, springing into action like that.

More here.
Map: National Geographic

Read Full Post »

When my daughter-in-law was about to be a mom and present me with my first grandchild,

her sisters gave her a lovely baby shower.

A couple of the women I spoke to there told me about a book group they enjoyed called Daughters of Abraham, located in a number of towns. As the organization’s website says, they are “a group of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim women who want to deepen our knowledge of our own and one another’s faiths. By reading books that teach us about each other’s faith traditions and learning about the practice of our respective faiths, we hope to increase our respect for all the Abrahamic religions. We are committed to building relationships among us.” They find that reading books and sharing the perspectives and insights from their different backgrounds is rewarding and fun.

One of the women had gone on to found a nonprofit that does something similar for the children of the three traditions. “Kids 4 Peace Boston is an interfaith, nonpolitical organization of Jews, Christians, and Muslims that fosters friendship, understanding, and respect among children and families in the Boston area, and hosts children [of our three faiths from Jerusalem] in a summer program. … Kids4Peace Boston practices hospitality — a shared value of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  We strive to create a place where faith and friendship thrive.”

I have been trying to interest the religious education director at my church to bring in the woman I met at the baby shower to talk about the Kids 4 Peace program.

Please send comments to suzannesmom@lunaandstella.com. Suzanne is the founder of the birthstone jewelry company Luna & Stella. She asked me to do a blog and write about anything I felt like writing about, which is exactly what I have been doing. Thanks for visiting.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: