The bowl and jars used to break the Ramadan fast is displayed at the entrance of the exhibit. photo by Gabe Powell

Philbrook’s “Wondrous Worlds” teaches about Islam

The exhibition showcases art from all over the world and spanning several centuries, exploring the influence of Islam.

The Philbrook Museum of Art is hosting an exhibit boasting over 100 works spanning 1,200 years of Islamic history and influence. It will run until Oct. 6. The display features pieces on loan from the Newark Museum in New Jersey.

The exhibit was designed with five themes in mind: clothing style, writing, architecture, hospitality and cross-cultural exchange. The collection features work from such diverse and historically distinct regions like Southeast Asia, North and West Africa and the Middle East. The broad geographic range of artistic depictions showcases the deep impact of Islam on the ancient world and its modern influence.

Some of the artwork includes ornate jewelry, furniture, metalwork and ceramics. Included in the room are modern paintings, photographs and sculptures showing a re-interpretation of ancient styles and religious motifs.

Prominently displayed in the front of the room is a case containing ornate pottery from Morocco. The large bowl in the middle of the case is teal-colored and has an eight-pointed star in the middle of the bowl. This ornately decorated bowl would have been used during the month of Ramadan, where observers gather in the evening to break their religious fast. There are two blue covered jars to the side of the bowl that have intricate geometric designs. These jars, called jobbana, are commonly used to store a special soup-harira-made during the month of Ramadan. These pieces date from the late 18th to the early 20th century. To the right of the pottery is an Egyptian tent panel from the early 1900s. This would be hung to create a decorative environment for a celebration or wedding. Stitched into the wool are blessings and guidance for life.

There is more than just pottery or jewelry on display however: the exhibit also contains weaponry from various parts of the Islamic world. One impressive example of this is a display case containing an impressive double-edged blade, a pair of pistols and a sword. The flintlock pistols date from the 18th century Ottoman era, and they are composed of steel overlaid with gold. There is an inscribed blunderbuss from the same era composed of wood and steel with silver furnishings. The daggers hail from late 1800s Sudan and have a crocodile skin sheath. The arm guard on the right of the photo is from early 19th century Iran.

You can find the exhibit on the Main Level of the museum to the left of the entrance. Upon entering the museum you should be in a rotunda and see an admissions desk to the right where you should any direct questions. University of Tusa students get in free with college ID, and admission is free for all visitors on the second Saturday of every month. The museum is located on 2727 South Rockford Road, and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday through Sunday with extended hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays.

Post Author: Gabe Powell