Art News & Views



Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is exhibiting Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition based on various themes like Byzantium's Southern provinces, orthodox Christianity. Syriac Christianity, Coptic Christianity, Judaism, pilgrimage, iconoclasm, commerce, silks, dress, trade goods, palaces and princely life and Islamic religious works. The exhibition started on March 14 and will continue till July 8, 2012.

As the seventh century started, vast territories extending from Syria to Egypt and across North Africa were ruled by the Byzantine Empire from its capital, Constantinople (modern Istanbul). These southern provinces were home to Orthodox, Coptic, and Syriac Christians, Jewish communities, and others who were long influenced by Greco-Roman traditions, critical to the wealth and power of the empire. Great pilgrimage centers attracted people from far off places like Yemen in the east and Scandinavia in the west. Major trade routes reached eastward down the Red Sea past Jordan to India in the south, bringing silks and ivories to the imperial territories. Major cities made wealthy by commerce extended along inland trade routes north to Constantinople and along the Mediterranean coastline.

In the same century, from Mecca and Medina, the newly established faith of Islam emerged along the Red Sea trade route and reached westward into the empire's southern provinces. Political and religious authority was transferred from the long established Christian Byzantine Empire to the newly established Umayyad and later Abbasid Muslim dynasties. The new powers took advantage of existing traditions of the region in developing their compelling secular and religious visual identities. The Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition follows the artistic traditions of the southern provinces of the Byzantine Empire from the seventh century to the ninth, as they were transformed from being central to the Byzantine tradition to being a critical part of the Islamic world.

Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition has been supported by Mary and Michael Jaharis, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The Hagop Kevorkian Fund. Additional support has been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Tags: art, antique

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