Observations – KL Visit – Islamic Art Museum Part 9

Continuing my series of articles on my visit to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, in particular to the Islamic art Museum there.

Next up in my walkthrough the museum galleries is the Living with Wood Gallery. There is actually another corridor-gallery between the Metalwork and Ceramics Gallery and this Gallery, that is the Coins Gallery. However, Only having my iPod with less than a 1mp camera, I cannot take the pictures of the coin gallery, since it will only end up blurry, and only the well lit and transparent background will be visible. Hopefully I will be able to travel there again, so I can then do a thorough research and take picture in a better detail.

The Living with Wood gallery, as the name suggests, features artifacts from the Islamic World which utilizes wood. Now, you may think that, since Islam is pretty much associated with the Middle East and its surroundings, and in turn, associated with dry deserts with no trees whatsoever (I thought of that too) this gallery will in a way, reverse that misconception.

The artifacts mainly came from India and Central Asia, but if you think about it, these places were quite dry too. However, the gallery holds many wooden items ranging from furniture such as dressing tables, screens, mirror boxes, chests and chairs, to small daily equipments and necessities such as pen cases , plates, dishes and even chess sets.

Many if not all of the items were richly decorated – some were inlaid with ivory, mother-of-pearls and gemstones, some were gilded, some were carved with intricate designs of Arabesques and Geometric designs, some were painted with luxurious colours that you can still see today. Understandably, this kind of treatment given to the items were due to the scarcity of the material itself. Wood were precious mainly to the fact that as I had noted before, the artifacts came from areas where timber were rare and difficult to work with, since the climate may cause the material to warp. The craftsmen paid extra attention when working with wood and requires a high level of skill, hence the lavish decoration each and every item on display.A collection featuring wooden panels, mirror case and chests.

An intricate wooden Indian Jaali on display

Beautifully decorated pen cases, inlaid with mother-of-pearls

A flamboyant (decorative?) fan, embellished with calligraphy and arabesques.

An Indian Chess Set. I can imagne that this piece were made somewhere around the 18th or 19th Century, during the colonization period of Britain (and other European Power). One can see the cross on the bishop piece, which makes the set fit to the European taste.

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