Sunday, October 30, 2011

Exhibition: Gifts of the Sultan (Monica Rhor)

The two civilizations are separated by centuries and sensibilities. One venerates only a single deity; the other worshipped a pantheon of gods. One remains a force in the world to this day; the other vanished from Earth thousands of years ago.

Yet, in both the Islamic and ancient Egyptian cultures, religion is a constant beat that thrummed through the rhythms of daily life, surfacing in personal relationships, political maneuvers and faith-based rituals. It is also a motif running through two major exhibitions currently at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston - Gifts of the Sultan: The Art of Giving at the Islamic Courts and Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs.

In Gifts of the Sultan, ethical and moral guidelines set by the Quran weave through a collection of 200 works from the 8th through the 19th centuries. In Tutankhamun, relics depicting offerings and prayers to the gods illustrate a society in which the religious and routine are inextricably entwined.

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