Exhibition: Muhammad Shah’s Royal Persian Tent

Cleveland Museum of Art - Muhammad Shah's Royal Persian Tent

Exhibition dates: 26 July 2015 – 26 June 2016

The Cleveland Museum of Art has acquired a spectacular imperial tent created for Muhammad Shah, who ruled Iran from 1834–1848 during the Qajar dynasty. The interior of the round tent is lavishly decorated with inlaid brilliantly coloured woollen cloth embellished with silk thread embroidery. The tent is the centerpiece of a special focus exhibition in the museum’s Arlene M. and Arthur S. Textile Gallery, which began this week.

The tent retains its complete ceiling; seven of the original fourteen wall panels form a semicircle so that visitors can see and be surrounded by the ornate interior. Each wall panel is decorated with a single large vase of exuberant blossoms set between robust birds on a rocky mound under a niche with blossoming vines. The roof panels display similar birds flanking the base of two blossoming branches. The exterior, in contrast, is typically covered with a plain cotton cloth.

At Islamic courts, tents were symbols of royal power and wealth – pitched for imperial ceremonies, travel and military campaigns and presented as luxurious gifts. Wealthy dynasties owned thousands of tents in various sizes and shapes. The exhibition will not only be the first time the tent has been publicly displayed, it will also include portraits of the owner and royal family and images of courtly life that will give visitors a sense of the rich context in which tents like this were commissioned and used.

For more information, visit the website of the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, USA.

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