This display in Australia’s only public gallery space permanently dedicated to Islamic art explores the rich history of artistic exchange between Chinese ceramic artists and the Muslim world. A major impetus for Chinese potters to develop blue-and-white porcelain was the demand for the decorated wares among markets that stretched from the Middle East to Southeast Asia. As early as eight hundred years ago, Muslim merchants exported cobalt oxide mineral from Iraq to China for use in the manufacture of the blue-and-white porcelain still popular today but which was then called ‘Mohammedan blue’.
Islamic Art features a range of ceramics including large shallow plates that were specifically intended for the Muslim custom of sharing communal dishes at meals. The symmetrical configurations of the geometrical and floral porcelain motifs are influenced by Islamic designs popular in the Ottoman world. In Islam the subject of flowers symbolised the auspicious felicity of Heaven’s paradise, a word whose linguistic origin is the Old Persian term for a ‘walled garden’.
Also included in the display are richly decorated Indonesian textiles featuring Arabic calligraphy and floral patterns inspired by the royal pleasure gardens of Javanese sultans.