At the Metropolitan Museum Of Art 6÷23−9÷20: Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures From the National Musuem, KabulJune 15th, 2009
If are visiting New York City this summer, please make sure you carve out time to see this exhibition. I attended the press preview for the show, which opens to the public on June 23rd and will remain at the museum until September 20, 2009, and was completely blown away by the grandeur and survival of these ancient examples of goldsmithing, architecture, and the decorative arts. Of course my focus was the jewelry and gold work, however all the artifacts were so compelling that I found myself walking through the halls twice; the glass ewers, vases, and bowls are exquisitely produced and utterly breathtaking.
Afghanistan is a land locked country that is bordered by Pakistan to the south, Iran to the east, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikstand to the north, and China to the northeast. Connecting south and central Asia and the Middle East, Afghanistan’s cultural history is layered like the pentimento images rising to the surface through the transparency of aged oil paint. The merchant trade that formed the metaphoric Silk Road, and its center was Afghanistan, was a crossroads where caravans and cultures met and blended. Influences from ancient Greece, Rome, India, Eqypt, and China are found in these cultural remnants.
The dazzle in these ornaments is not simply in their magnificence, but also in the determination of twenty people, whose compensation at the museum in Kabul was, to say the least, nowhere near commensurate with the value that these objects could bring if sold quietly. And yet, they hid them, preserved them, and most importantly, kept them out of the hands of the those who would plunder these treasures for inconceivable gain.
For these reasons, and for the sheer joy of the seeing ancient craftsmanship you will not likely experience again, I wholeheartedly encourage you to make an afternoon of it and see the show. As the icing to the cake of this event, jewelry designer Gurhan Orhan has developed a collection of high-end pieces for the museum. I will discuss a choice few in The Jewelry Stylist…