Major Exhibition at The Met Celebrates Artistic, Technological, and Cultural Legacy of Seljuqs, Influential Medieval Islamic Dynasty
April 27–July 24, 2016
The Met Fifth Avenue, Floor 2
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall (Gallery 999)
Press Preview: Monday, April 25, 10 am–12 pm
One of the most productive periods in the history of the region from Iran to Anatolia (in modern Turkey) corresponds to the rule of the Seljuqs and their immediate successors, from 1038 to 1307. The Seljuqs were aTurkic dynasty of Central Asian nomadic origin that established a vast, but decentralized and relatively short-lived, empire in West Asia (present-day Turkmenistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey). Under Seljuq rule, the exchange and synthesis of diverse traditions—including Turkmen, Perso-Arabo-Islamic, Byzantine, Armenian, Crusader, and other Christian cultures—accompanied economic prosperity, advances in science and technology, and a great flowering of culture within the realm. Opening April 27 at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the landmark international loan exhibition Court and Cosmos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs features spectacular works of art created in the 11th through 13th century from Turkmenistan to the Mediterranean.
The exhibition is made possible by the NoRuz at The Met Fund and the Iranian-American Community.
Approximately 270 objects—including ceramics, glass, stucco, works on paper, woodwork, textiles, and metalwork—from American, European, and Middle Eastern public and private collections are shown. Many of the institutions have never lent works from their collections before. Among the highlights are a dozen important loans from Turkmenistan—the exhibition marks the first time that Turkmenistan as an independent country has permitted an extended loan of a group of historical objects to a museum in the United States.
Under the Great Seljuqs of Iran, the middle class prospered, spurring arts patronage, technological advancements, and a market for luxury goods. In contrast, in Anatolia, Syria, and the Jazira (northwestern Iraq, northeastern Syria, and southeastern Turkey)—which were controlled by the Seljuq successor dynasties (Rum Seljuqs, Artuqids, and Zangids)—art was produced under royal patronage, and Islamic iconography was introduced to a predominantly Christian area.
Furthermore, a number of artists had immigrated to the region from Iran in response to the Mongol conquest in 1220. Because patrons, consumers, and artists came from diverse cultural, religious, and artistic backgrounds, distinctive arts were produced and flourished in the western parts of the Seljuq realm.