Exhibition at Herât Castle Highlights Importance of Herât’s Art to Islamic Civilization
December 2, 2017 – March 2, 2018

Incident in a Mosque by Shaykh Zada; Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Stuart Cary Welch, Jr., 1999.300.2

(Herât, Afghanistan, December 2, 2017) – The American Institute of Afghanistan Studies (AIAS) is pleased to announce the opening of “Splendours of Medieval Timurid Art in Afghanistan” at Herât Citadel. This exhibition, the first in a series of exhibitions within Afghanistan, will showcase state-of-the-art reproductions of works of art painted in Herât and Kabul in the 15th through 18th centuries.

The series retraces development of royal painting in Afghanistan under the Western Timurids at Herât and then under the Eastern (= Mughal) Timurids in Kabul from the early 15th century to the founding of the Afghan kingdom in the 18th century. The exhibition at Herât Castle illustrates the technical, historical and stylistic evolution of Timurid book painting by 15th and 16th century Herâtî masters including Bihzâd, Shaykh-Zâda and Mahmûd-i Muzahhib, and further features pictorial representations of individual rulers and princes, along with scenes of territories and trade routes linking cultural ties between Herât and Kabul and the Chinese, Indian and Mediterranean worlds.

The purpose of this series is to restore access and awareness in Afghanistan – and abroad – regarding this central cultural heritage. Not one original painting from this period remains on Afghan soil. While their international dispersal since the sixteenth century undoubtedly saved these delicate works of art, it also remains an almost unparalleled educational tragedy that such Incident in a Mosque by Shaykh Zada; Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Stuart Cary Welch, Jr., 1999.300.2 an extraordinary cultural legacy should have become so utterly lost – from sight and memory – to the Afghan people today.

Part I of the series, featuring 106 images in Herat, opens on December 2, 2017 for three months and is free and open to the general public. Part II will open in Kabul during Nowruz/end of March 2018. The program is curated and conceptualized by Dr. Michael Barry (Distinguished Professor, American University of Afghanistan; formerly Princeton University) who co-leads the program with Dr. Thomas Barfield (Professor, Boston University; President, AIAS). Logistical support is provided by Mikaela Ringquist (Grant Director, AIAS), Rohullah Amin (Kabul Director, AIAS), Annika Schmeding (Project Coordinator, AIAS; PhD Candidate, Boston University), and James Souza (U.S. Administrative Director, AIAS). Reproductions on Dibond metal are made by Central Dupon Laboratoire in Paris, France.

This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the Embassies of the United States and France in Kabul.

For further information, please contact: aias@bu.edu or aias.kbl@gmail.com


About the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies (AIAS)
Founded in 2003, AIAS is a private, non-profit organization run by scholars with the mission of promoting and encouraging the systematic study of the culture, society, land, languages, health, peoples and history of Afghanistan. AIAS aims to increase the numbers of scholars in the United States who have expertise in, and an understanding of Afghanistan, and to assist in the rebuilding of academic institutions and the advanced study of Afghanistan. AIAS is a fully-functioning scholarly organization with a U.S. center housed at Boston University, and an overseas center located in Kabul, Afghanistan. Since 2008, the Institute has been a member of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers. Currently, the AIAS U.S. center is housed at Boston University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations.