If you’re in Pittsburgh, you must stop by the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History. From now until November 3, the Museum will be featuring Roads of Arabia, a fascinating exhibit about life and culture on the Arabian peninsula before the spread of Islam in the 7th century, as well as some contemporary pieces of Saudi Arabian art, photography, and architecture. Among the three-hundred artifacts are:
· A green flag embroidered in silver with the Muslim profession of faith (shahada) “There is no God but God, and Mohammed is His prophet” that belonged to the former King Abdulazis of Saudi Arabia
· A set of metal doors that once belonged to the Kaaba, a room located in the Al-Masjid Al-Haram Mosque in Mecca. The Kaaba is considered the most sacred place to Muslims
· A number of steles (tombstones or commemorative markers). These steles also provide examples of beautiful scripts, both of the Arabic alphabet and now-extinct languages once spoken in the region
· Numerous statues and figurines that would have been used in public and private architecture, as well as decorating the home
· A breathtaking black and gold Kiswah that once covered the Kaaba. The Kiswah covers the entrance to the Kaaba, is typically 130 feet long and 45 wide, and embroidered with the Muslim shahada and several Quranic verses
· Several fragments of pottery, jewelry, and incense burners used throughout the Arabian peninsula.
· Fragments of funerary masks and a funerary bed
A truly breathtaking exhibit, one visit to the museum is simply not long enough for one to fully absorb the grandeur of the artifacts, nor the overwhelming significance and history behind each item. Roads of Arabia will run until November 3.
If you want to read more about the exhibit or the artifacts mentioned in this article, check out the following sites:
Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh: http://members.carnegiemuseums.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Roads_of_Arabia_Member_Events
· About the Kaaba: http://www.hajinformation.com/main/j1091.htm
· About Kiswah: http://www.hajinformation.com/main/j1092.htm
· Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s Review of the Exhibition: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/ae/art-architecture/roads-of-arabia-exhibit-opens-at-the-carnegie-museum-of-natural-history-693140/