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The Spirit of Islam: Experiencing Islam through Calligraphy

Museum of Anthropology, UBC , Vancouver
Oct 20, 2001 - May 12, 2002

Astrolabe, Iran (1388),
photo: Adler Planetarium & Museum

A selection of outstanding examples of Islamic art and calligraphy from different historical periods is on display for several months over the winter and spring. The exhibition is co-sponsored by the Museum of Anthropology and such members of the Lower Mainland Islamic community as the B.C. Muslim Association, the Shia Muslim Association and the Ismaili Muslim Community of B.C.

In addition, two interconnected galleries enclose a prayer space and a very large orientation or educational area called a madarassa. With calligraphy as its focus, the exhibition introduces visitors to the aesthetics and spirituality of Islam through the beauty and significance of Arabic script. Calligraphy is considered to be the highest form of Islamic art.

A 14th Century astrolabe, a black felt door from Mecca, and a snakes-and-ladders board game inlaid with mother of pearl are among the exquisite artefacts and manuscripts on loan from collections around the world. Other works of richly patterned and decorated art include a mosque lamp, temple tiles, prayer rugs, an antique map, ceramics and even armour. Islamic architectural styles are reflected in examples of carved woodwork and pierced screens. Accompanying the unique exhibit are school and public programs, lectures by Islamic scholars, film screenings, performances and workshops with Islamic calligraphers. For more information, call (604) 822-5950 or connect to

© Mia Johnson