Observations – KL Visit – Islamic Art Museum part 4

The internet here in Brunei is still pretty problematic, so I am writing this articles in stages – I will add the images later and typing the article beforehand as it would be more practical. For your information, I am writing this in the middle of the night while watching the EURO football match of England vs. France and the connection is simply pathetic.

Next in the series of articles on my visit to the Islamic Art Museum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is the Indian Gallery post. The gallery is pretty much just next to the China Gallery and somewhat across the Malay World Gallery. The Indian exhibition were small-ish compared to the China and Malay World galleries – it looks like it is put in some sort of a niche or a corner, flanked by walls featuring Jaalis (more on that later). However, the collection is not as small as it features many artifacts from the Central Asian region from glorious stone carvings to delicate fabrics and embroideries to intricately decorated weapons and armours. The artifacts, like many other displays in the museum, are encased in glass.

The Stone Jaali

From the Malay World Gallery (and just in front of the China Gallery) you are greeted by a redstone latticework mainly found in Pakistan and India called Jaali. This one Jalli window with a smaller window in the middle of it evokes the imagery of the Red Fort in Delhi, India.It has grooved arches unlike Persian or Middle Eastern arches – an apparent influence from the Hindu architecture of India. The stone latticework is surrounded by intricate floral carving and the ubiquitous eight-pointed star motif.

One of the Miniature Painting exhibited inside the Gallery

Inside the gallery-niche you would find many artifacts as I mentioned before. Some were weapons and armors (I still remember this lance or spear, perhaps ornamental weapon, with a fluffy white hair-like object near the blade of the spear, displayed prominently in the middle of the gallery) and many were miniatures, such as this one. The miniature are similar to the  Persian ones, although newer ones, from the Mughal empire, are distinctly Indian, with a more realistic facial features and different art style – perhaps an influence from the Renaissance paintings?

A pair of calligraphic Tile

Apart form weapons and armors and miniatures there were also painted this. This particular ones, I can imagine could be one taken from the Wazir Khan Mosque, as it is painted in such a way very similar to the ones used in that mosque. It is different than the Middle Eastern calligraphy tiles particularly due to the techniques and colours employed. The tiles were painted warm colours of yellow and brown, and unlike the Middle Eastern ones, which has calligraphy perfectly painted on,the calligraphy on these tiles were somehow made without any calculations or guidelines.

A brightly coloured Islamic tapestry

On one wall there is this display of tapestries, fabrics and embroideries framed and hung. This one is the largest and, like the hairy spear, displayed prominently in the middle of the wall. Again, the colour preferred are warm colours and for this piece, a bright, sunny yellow was used. I didn’t remember if it was merely painted or embroidered but there is a line of calligraphy in the middle of the cloth in green. Around the calligraphy are flower medallions although I am not sure either whether it is painted or embroidered.

Stone Jharokha sculpture

Upon exiting the exhibition, overlooking the stairs is an elaborate stone sculpture of a pavillion. If I remember well, this is called a Jharoka, a particularly exclusive feature of the Mughal Architecture. The Jharokha essentially serves the similar purpose like the Mashrabiya though in Jharokha’s case, it is made of stone instead of wood and thus much heavier. It is also often decorated with Jaali so women in Purdah could conceal their identities whilst looking from the Jharokha.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Observations – KL Visit – Islamic Art Museum part 4

  1. Shailesh

    Friend, You have observed everything with It’s deep History but for your kind information I would like to correct you ( IF you Don’t mind) that ‘Yes !! You can say it JHAROKHA’ (Jharokha means -Window) but this is not only Jharokha , Actually this is the small model of ‘Hindu Temple Dome ‘You can find it at the main entrance of every north Indian Hindu Temple, See – The Top of the dome is covered with the LOTUS shaped carving, Might someone picked it from INDIA.

    • I would like to reply to both of your comments. I have noted on the article as well as other articles regarding Mughal architecture in the blog that it is CLEARLY INFLUENCED BY HINDU ARCHITECTURE. I never said that it was exclusively Islamic or Persian because like most architectures around the world, each of them influences each other one way or another. In this case, if you can see, Mughal architecture, given the geographical location of where this style is prevalent, draws inspiration and influences from Arabic, Persian and Hindu. In fact, the mughal art and architecture are very heavily borrowed from Hindu art and it actually is different from the mainstream Islamic aesthetics, in the sense that it is more similar to Hindu aesthetics.
      About the Jharokha sculpture, as again I have noted that the gallery being discussed in the article is named INDIAN GALLERY, so clearly the sculpture is FROM INDIA, and I do not deny that at all. However, the sculpture is not from a temple, it was from a palace (according to the placard in front of the sculpture, though the exact name of the palace is not mentioned, although it said it was from India). Again, this kind of sculpture is not exclusive to Hindu architecture ; it can also be found in Rajasthani, Mughal and Rajputana architecture. As Mughal architecture, again, I repeat, draws influences from Hindu architecture, it is inevitable that you can find these and many other parallels in Mughal architecture.

  2. Shailesh

    This is not an Example of Mughal Art ‘ This is ancient Typical Hindu Art, Actually, ‘Mughal Art is the blend of Hindu-Persian & Arabic blend !!

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