Category Archives: Doha

Islamic Art and Architecture Vol. 5 – Art of War

Our final post on Islamic Art and Architecture looks at the military. The 15th century war mask above was used in both Turkey and western Iran to motivate troops. The story told to us by the guide was that the commanding officer would charge into battle wearing the mask. Should he be killed then the next in command would quickly don the mask so that the infantrymen would think their leader was invincible. The mask also hid the pain from his face from the wounds he would undoubtedly have received from fierce face-to-face combat.

Turkish turban helmet from the early 16th century.


Ivory Italian Oliphant (Hunting Horn) c11th or 12th century.


Turkish axe and shield from the late 16th – early 17th century.


A 17th century Indian priming flask made of ivory, steel and glass, for loading early versions of muskets.


Dagger and Scabbard from India c1800. Made of steel, jade, rubies, emeralds, diamonds, gold and velvet.


Carved Afghanistan Cenotaph 1455 AD.

Islamic Art and Architecture Vol. 4 – Science and Literature

Astrolabes, like the one above, were used throughout the Islamic world for many centuries mainly to determine prayer time and the direction of Mecca.

The astrolabe at the top comes from Granada in Spain c1309 and the one at the bottom comes from the same region c1304. Both are made of brass.


Indian brass celestial globe c1640


Anatomical Illustration from the manuscript of Tashrih-i Mansuri a 15th century Persian physician.


A section of a 16th century Chinese Qur’an with ink pigments and gold on paper.


Another ink and gold section of the Qur’an this time from 14th century Egypt.


‘Babur Visits Humayun’s Camp’ a 16th century watercolour and gilt paint image from the Baburnameh, a book that recounts the story of Babur the founder of the Mughal dynasty, an empire in India.


Top: 19th century Turkish compass.
Centre: 19th century Syrian compass.
Bottom: 19th century Turkish ruler.

Islamic Art and Architecture Vol. 3 – Finery

Here are some of the finer things in life including the emerald wine cup (above) from India c1605. Wait! What? Wine?? 😉

18th century Ottoman wooden chest inlaid with mother-of-pearl. There is a mirror inside the box (not visible here) that suggests it was used by an elite member of the court.


Jewel encrusted Chopat (game set) from India c19th century


Bronze Fountainhead, Spanish Umayyad, Spain (Cordoba), mid 10th century.


Decorative silver sphere encrusted with rubies, emeralds and diamond. C1680 – India.


The Seal of Shah Sulayman of Iran carved from rock crystal c1668 – 1669.


Jeweled Falcon from India c1640. Gold and enamel encrusted with rubies, emeralds, diamonds, sapphires and onyx.


Shirazi Wooden Chest from the Arabian Gulf – 18th century. Decorated with brass studs and engraved brass sheets.

Islamic Art and Architecture Vol. 2 – Decor

The Museum of Islamic Art had a fascinating section that included ceramics, textiles and woodwork dating back to the 7th century. Here are just some of the stunning samples we saw, such as the Turkish tile above c1560, that uses a technique called ‘fritware’ in which ground glass is mixed with the clay and baked at high temperatures to ensure appropriate fusion with the ceramic.

Not so old 19th century Indian cabinet – wood with ivory, pewter and ebony inlay.


15th century carved wooden panel from Iran.


17th century Cuerda Seca tiles from Kashmir or Lahore. Tiles like this were traditionally used to decorate the walls of both palaces and tombs. The Cuerda Seca technique involves the use of thin lines of some sort of greasy substance to prevent the water soluble glazes running together.


17th century carved sandstone Jali screen from India.


Early 15th century silk pile Ashtapada (Chessboard) carpet from Central Asia.


Further examples of Cuerda Seca fritware tiles, this time from 17th century Iran.


Egyptian wooden door from the 14th century with ebony, cedar, walnut and bone (ivory) inlay.

Islamic Art and Architecture Vol. 1 – Everyday Life

During a recent visit to the city of Doha, Qatar, we were fortunate enough to spend an hour in the Museum of Islamic Art (above) on the picturesque Corniche. Throughout the rest of Ramadan we will share with you some of the centuries old culture we experienced, beginning with Everyday Life.

Green glass bottle c12th or 13th century – Iran.

Brass jug with silver and gold inlay from Afghanistan, c15th century.

9th century glass bottle alongside a 6th – 8th century document holder, both from Iran.

15th century Iranian Kashkul or ‘Beggars Bowl’, usually used by Islamic mystics, possibly Sufis, who had taken a vow of poverty.

Stall holder from the Souq Waqif in Doha

Stall holder from the Souq Waqif in Doha playing a Rababah – a Bedouin violin with only one string.