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Tuesday April 21, 2015
Tags for: Cleveland Museum of Art Acquires Imperial Iranian Tent
  • Press Release

Cleveland Museum of Art Acquires Imperial Iranian Tent

exterior of the CMA building

Made in the 19th century for ruler Muhammad Shah, tent will go on view in a special focus exhibition, July 2015

CLEVELAND (April 21, 2015) – The Cleveland Museum of Art has acquired a spectacular imperial tent created for Muhammad Shah, who ruled Iran from 1834–48 during the Qajar dynasty. The interior of the round tent is lavishly decorated with inlaid brilliantly colored woolen cloth embellished with silk-thread embroidery. The tent will be the centerpiece of a special focus exhibition in the museum’s Arlene M. and Arthur S. Textile Gallery beginning this July 17.

“This is a prize acquisition that will surprise and delight our visitors” said William M. Griswold, the museum’s director. “Imperial tents are very rare, and our exhibition will allow for an immersive and dazzling experience.”

The tent retains its complete ceiling; seven of the original 14 wall panels form a semi-circle so that visitors can see and even be surrounded by the ornate interior. Each wall panel is decorated with a single large vase of exuberant blossoms set between robust birds on a rocky mound under a niche with blossoming vines. The roof panels display similar birds flanking the base of two blossoming branches. The exterior, in contrast, is typically covered with a plain cotton cloth.

At Islamic courts, tents were symbols of royal power and wealth—pitched for imperial ceremonies, travel and military campaigns, and presented as luxurious gifts. Wealthy dynasties owned thousands of tents in various sizes and shapes. The exhibition will not only be the first time the tent has been publicly displayed, it will also include portraits of the owner and royal family and images of courtly life that will give visitors a sense of the rich context in which tents like this were commissioned and used.

Muhammad Shah’s royal tent will be on view from July 17, 2015 through June 26, 2016.

 

Image
Muhammad Shah’s (R. 1834-48) royal tent, Iran, Rasht, Qajar period (1779-1925.) Plain weave: wool, inlaid work, silk embroidery in chain stitch; Overall (in center) h: 360 cm, d: 400 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, J.H. Wade Trust Fund.

Muhammad Shah’s (R. 1834-48) royal tent, Iran, Rasht, Qajar period (1779-1925.) Plain weave: wool, inlaid work, silk embroidery in chain stitch; Overall (in center) h: 360 cm, d: 400 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, J.H. Wade Trust Fund.

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