Organised by Louvre Abu Dhabi in partnership with Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet and France Muséums, Dragon and Phoenix – Centuries of Exchange between Chinese and Islamic Worlds is curated by Sophie Makariou, President of Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet, with the support of Dr. Souraya Noujaim, Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Scientific, Curatorial and Collections Management Director, and Guilhem André, Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Chief Curator of Asian and Medieval Art.
With more than 200 artworks on display, one can explore the cultural and artistic exchange between the Chinese and Islamic worlds from the 8th to the 18th century.
The artworks in Dragon and Phoenix represent long-lasting dialogue between China (the dragon) and the Islamic world (the phoenix), chosen from the collections of Louvre Abu Dhabi and Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet, alongside those of 12 international museums and institutions. The exhibition delves into the cultural exchange and prolific artistic production between the two worlds resulting in coveted luxury materials and artworks across a span of more than 800 years.
The exhibition begins in the 8th century, as the Islamic world gazed towards China, a great source of technical advances and objects of beauty. Chinese porcelains and textiles were prized by caliphs and were given as diplomatic gifts, which inspired Islamic local production in turn. Later, Chinese emperors invited artists and craftsmen from all over the Islamic world to renew certain styles and ideas. The Islamic world was an important source of inspiration for China and a supplier of luxury products, including the cobalt blue used in Chinese blue-and-white porcelain.
There is a long history of using dragons and phoenixes in these two artistic traditions. In this exhibition we will find them on porcelain, silk, jade, in paintings and crafted into precious silver and gold objects. One of the highlights on display is a rare gold cup with a dragon handle. This masterpiece of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection may have been used by a nomadic Mongol dignitary journeying from China. Also on show are some of the most spectacular textiles ever created: Panni Tartarici are Chinese silks woven with gold, a union of Chinese traditions and those of the Near East and Central Asia.
Visitors will be taken on a journey organised in five chapters, through both land and sea trade routes, to explore the connections, artistic influences and remarkable untold stories, beginning from the establishment of the first Arab merchant colonies in Canton in the 8th century until the threshold of the 18th century. ‘The Islamic world’ references the regions that include countries, cultures and ethnic groups, who shared their affiliation to Islam during this period, such as the Mashriq region, Eastern Africa, Central Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and South-East Asia.
The exhibition features works from the collection of Louvre Abu Dhabi and 13 lending museums and institutions including: Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet, Musée du Louvre, Shanghai Museum, Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, Archives nationales, Cité de la céramique – Sèvres et Limoges, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Musée de Cluny – musée national du Moyen Âge, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Musée Jacquemart-André – Institut de France, Musée national de la Renaissance – Château d’Ecouen, Muséum national d’Histoire Naturelle and Musée des Tissus de Lyon.
The exhibition runs until 12 February 2022 at Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The info is extracted from the press release and Louvre Abu Dhabi website.