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Paris’ Musée Du Louvre’s Must See Arab Artifacts

With lockdowns rules lifted all over the world, museums and tourist attractions have opened up in a bid to resume and get used to a type of “new normal.” Tourists and visitors to museums must maintain sanitation rules and wear masks at all times within the museum. Once you make your way to the Louvre in Paris, keep an eye out for the 5 ancient artifacts from the Arab world...

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Door Leaf From The Dar Al-Khalifa Palace In Samarra - The Caliphate Period, Birth and Unity of an Empire (632–1000)

This door leaf comes from Samarra, a palatial Iraqi city founded in 836. It exemplifies a form of decorative abstraction that developed in the center of the Abbasid Empire during the 9th century and was to have a lasting impact on the evolution of Islamic art.

Decorated with three vertical rectangular panels positioned one above the other; they contain designs that were carved in strong relief and deeply beveled—a decorative style typical of Abbasid ornamental carving. The door leaf is made of teak wood, a precious material that was imported from India as wood was rare in Iraq. 

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Double Folio From A Qur’an - The Caliphate Period, Birth and Unity of an Empire (632–1000)

The Qur’anic manuscripts of the first centuries are distinguished by an angular, somewhat hieratic script associated with rules of proportion governing the size of letters in relation to the page. They were written on parchment; paper gradually came into use for copies of the Qur’an from the 10th century onward. The verses are separated and numbered by vegetal ornamentation, while a gold-decorated horizontal band ending in a vegetal motif marks the beginning of each sura. 

The vertical folio format used for the earliest copies of the Qur’an reappeared in the 10th century, while 8th–9th century manuscripts tended to adopt the horizontal “landscape” format. 

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Chalice In The form Of A Lotus - The Final Pharaonic Dynasties And The Ptolemaic Period (circa 1069 - 30 BC)

Together with the papyrus reed, the water lily or blue lotus accounts for the vast majority of plants represented in Egyptian art. First appearing in the Eighteenth Dynasty, in calcite or siliceous faience, these cups reappeared in the Twenty-second Dynasty, in highly curvaceous form, covered in delicate detail. The intense blue of the faience and the fine detail connect this cup to a series of vessels found at Tuna el-Gebel, which have narrative decoration depicting scenes of royal activity and images of agricultural life. They may be a kind of offering, connected to the celebration of festivals. 

The Egyptians decorated their offerings to the gods and to the deceased with this highly symbolic flower, and held it to their noses at festivals.  

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Bottle With Coat Of Arms - Regional Fragmentation (1250–1500)

This magnificent bottle is adorned with a coat of arms and a large inscription. The coat of arms, an eagle with spread wings above a bowl, was long thought to be that of Tuguz Timur, an emir in the service of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qalawun (r. 1293–1341, with interruptions), assassinated in 1345. Decorated with enamel and gold, bottles of this type, intended for an elite, were probably used for decanting wine or for sweet beverages. This one bears an inscription, in the name of an unidentified owner, whose message remains something of a mystery. This bottle was one of a series of large bottles with enameled and gilt decoration that were produced between the second quarter of the 13th and the late 14th century. They are thought to have been used at ceremonial occasions attended by the Mamluk elite and requiring the presence of the cup-bearer, with whom they are naturally associated.  

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Legging - Christian Egypt (Fourth - Twelfth Centuries AD)

This elaborately decorated legging was discovered in a tomb in Middle Egypt. Far from Egyptian in style, featuring as it does iconographic themes of foreign origin, it is nevertheless almost certainly of Egyptian manufacture. It depicts a battle scene, unfortunately highly fragmented, with archers and a Persian king. 

Once sewn, it formed a tubular shape that surrounded the leg and was secured at the waist by a strap. They were discovered in a tomb in the Greco-Roman town of Antinoe in Middle Egypt, a site of great importance in the rediscovery of Coptic fabrics, excavated by the French archeologist Albert Gayet from the late nineteenth century. 

Made entirely of dyed wool tapestry woven in a single piece, these leggings were nevertheless almost certainly created in Egypt, as witnessed by the technique used: a skill perfected by the Copts.

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