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Qasam al-Abbas Arrives from Mecca and Crushes Tahmasp with a Mace, c. 1562-1577, attributed to Mahesha

Qasam al-Abbas Arrives from Mecca and Crushes Tahmasp with a Mace, Page from a dispersed manuscript of the Hamzanam (Adventures of Hamza), Around 1562 - 77, attributed to Mahesha (Indian, active around 1570 - 1590), 1937-4-1


Unbound: Islamic Arts of the Book

Through October

The artworks on view in this installation were once part of books created for Muslim patrons in India and Pakistan. They are pages that have been unbound from the stories they once told. Many date to the period of the mid-1500s to the 1700s, when the Mughal Empire spanned much of South Asia, and share certain features, such as vertical formats, elaborate borders, and often muted colors.

At the same time, the variety of approaches to Islamic book production and illustration is much in evidence. The size of the pages range from monumental to miniature, and their stories encompass epics, legends, romances, and histories. Alongside the many pages taken from narrative manuscripts are a few examples from the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, and a colossal work by contemporary artist Shahzia Sikander that offers an innovative reinterpretation of Islamic book traditions.

Main Building


Neeraja Poddar, The Ira Brind and Stacey Spector Associate Curator of South Asian Art

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