Cleveland Museum of Art Acquires Imperial Iranian Tent
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.
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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The Cleveland Museum of Art is renowned for the quality and breadth of its collection, which includes more than 63,000 artworks and spans 6,000 years of achievement in the arts. The museum is a significant international forum for exhibitions, scholarship and performing arts and is a leader in digital innovations. One of the top comprehensive art museums in the nation, recognized for its award-winning Open Access program and free of charge to all, the Cleveland Museum of Art is located in the University Circle neighborhood.
The museum is supported in part by residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture and made possible in part by the Ohio Arts Council (OAC), which receives support from the State of Ohio and the National Endowment for the Arts. The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally and economically. For more information about the museum and its holdings, programs and events, call 888-CMA-0033 or visit cma.org.