Collection of Rare Luxury Textiles

Connecting the past with the present, an exquisite exhibit curated by Qatar Museums titled “Fashioning an Empire: Textiles from Safavid Iran” unveils at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) this fall. Running from 23 October 2023 to 20 April 2024, it showcases the rich tapestry of the Safavid empire, spotlighting the prominence of silk in its socio-economic and artistic heritage.

Housed within the Sheikh Saoud Gallery at MIA, visitors are introduced to the geographical and historical settings of the Safavid empire. An era where Shah ‘Abbas I fostered a monopoly in the silk industry, creating a legacy in the world of textiles. What’s more, the exhibit transitions from showcasing Isfahan – the empire’s capital – to an intimate understanding of Safavid fashion, illustrated with historical textiles and modern paintings.

A unique aspect of the presentation is the ‘Fashion Forward’ segment that fuses ancient art with today’s designs. In collaboration with M7, the country’s hub for innovation in fashion, local artists have sculpted garments taking cues from the historical textiles of the Safavid period.

The exhibition had already marked its presence at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, Washington, D.C., commemorating the Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture. This iteration in Qatar is an expanded version, allowing visitors a broader and richer experience.

Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani emphasized the cultural significance of this venture. Drawing attention to its success in Washington, she expressed her enthusiasm for the ongoing cultural journey. Dr. Julia Gonnella, the MIA Director, reiterated the significance of Iranian history and its unparalleled visual identity that the exhibition seeks to bring to the fore.

It’s noteworthy that this launch follows just over a year since MIA reopened post a detailed enhancement of its facilities, making it an even more immersive hub of art and history.