The most luxurious handbag in the world

The first ever exhibition of Islamic art in the Courtauld Gallery is centred on a gorgeous metal inlaid handbag. There’s a life-size display recreating the lavish court scene on the inlaid decoration of the lid: an Il-Khanid court scene, with a richly dressed couple surrounded by a retinue of well-dressed attendants in feathered hats. There …

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The conference of the birds 2: hunting with a cheetah

Recently, I introduced the BL digitised manuscript of Mantiq al Tayr (conference of the birds): mainly by praising both the manuscript in the Met, and a very cute cartoon film of the story. If you didnt watch the cartoon first time round, please dont miss it now! Coming back to the BL manuscript, though, the …

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Blowing someone else’s huge metal trumpet

Every day at dawn and dusk (and whenever a sick pilgrim gets healed), kettle-drums are beaten and long metal trumpets are blown in Mashhad. The 1910 photo here shows the naqqāra-ḵāna: the name used for the ensemble of musicians as well as the place where the performance takes place. Click here (and then on ‘live …

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Parthian chicken on fourth century silver dishes

The British Museum has a small and very lovely exhibition on now of British fourth century silver – looking at the Great Dish from the Mildenhall treasure. There’s an intimate recreation of a late Roman dining room, with a stibadium (curved couch) for you to recline on, in exactly the right position for eating from …

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The fire that destroyed the world’s best carpet collection

Last week, I showed you the super-expensive so-called Clark-Corcoran carpet, and commented that – with these prices – none of us are likely to be actually seeing it face-to-carpet, so to speak. There are some other carpets that are even less likely to be seen: the 17 large-format classical carpets, including the iconic white-ground Safavid …

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