Today is the first day of Louvre Abu Dhabi Stories: Al Qalam - the display of the latest pieces of Louvre Abu Dhabi's permanent collection. In a modest display case in Gallery One in Manarat Al Saadiyat, some exquisite pieces dedicated to the art of the written word are on show. The primary piece - a bifolio or folded page of the Quran in Kufic script from the late ninth century - is stunningly preserved and the gold leaf illumination, which symbolises the light of God on the Earth is truly impressive.
Also on display are a collection of Indian miniature paintings from Lucknow that are inscribed with calligraphy and delicately finished on gauche paper and a French manuscript of Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers. Mohamed Abdulla Al Mansoori, the curator of the display describes this text as extremely important not only because it translated from the original script by a Syrian scholar, but also because it went on to become the first printed book in England.
The showpiece that stands at the front is a rare, high-quality portrait from a distinctive series known as the Fayum mummy portraits. From ancient Egypt, this painting on a wooden panel was originally placed on the face of a mummy to reflect the appearance of the deceased.
We covered this in The National before the exhibition opened and I would encourage you all to go down before the end of the exhibition to see these pieces in person because they are some of the most well preserved artefacts from this time period in existence.
* Louvre Abu Dhabi Stories: Al Qalam runs until July 25 at Manarat Al Saadiyat. Ramadan hours are 9am to 2pm and 8.30pm to 11.30pm. After Ramadan, the exhibitions will be open from 9am to 8pm. Public programmes and workshops will be held to coincide with the display. Full details are available at louvreabudhabi.ae.
Source: The National