The Museum of Islamic Art
By Dr. Maged El-Bialy
The museum of Islamic art is truly a wonderful reservoir of Islamic antiquities. It has a vast supplement of about 10200 artifacts that one cannot explore in a single day. The museum displays arts from the different Islamic eras that Egypt passed through including the Fatimid, Turkish and Persian periods. From the Fatimid Period, one can find a fine collection of wooden panels, which are the only surviving pieces of the Western Palace of Al Kahira Palace. And people love the craftsmanship of the Mihrabs of the tombs of Sayeda Ruqayya and Sayeda Nafeesa.
From the Ayyoubid Period one may find the beautifully carved wooden tabut (casket) of Al Hussein in addition to fine inlaid brass candlesticks. From the Mamluk period there is a collection of enameled mosque lamps as well as inlays of metal, wood and marble on pieces of furniture and various objects. And the Tatar El Higaziya provides us the minbar from their Madrasa (Mausoleum). The boxes of the Quran that once belonged to Sultan Shaaban are real pieces of art representing meticulous crafting. The beautiful Iranian and Turkish carpets are simply eye catching. The courtyard area contains a lovely nineteenth century Fountain obtained from the Monasterli Palace on Rhoda Island.
These antiquities are only a fraction of the displays in the museum. They are only examples of the most prominent artifacts in the museum. The museum of Islamic Art is in Bab El Khalq Square in the Egyptian library. Take Port Saed Square to reach the intersection with Muhammad Ali St. in Ahmad Maher Square. The museum is open throughout the week from 9 am to 4 p.m. except on Fridays, when it is open from 9:30 am to 11:30 am and from 1:30 p.m. to 4p.m.
On the other hand, in you take a look at Cairo you will find Islamic architecture every where. Old (Historic) Cairo is an open museum of the beautiful architecture of Islam where one may find that geometrical shapes are the main elements of this fine art. This is because in Islam it is thought that images of people is a return to pagan idolatry ages. So instead, Islamic art is uses designs (arabesque). Islamic art has changed with the change of ruling periods. This evolution of Islamic art started from the Fatimid period. Examples of architecture of the Fatimid period are the Azhar mosque and El hakim Be Amr Allah mosque. The following period was that of the Ayyubids, and the citadel is the best example of the art and architecture of this time interval in Egypt. The Mausoleum of Sultan Al Mansour Qalawon symbolizes the Bahri Mamluk period. The Circassean Mamluks follow the Bahri Mamluks and they built many educational buildings like the Mausoleum of El Zahir Baybers and the mausoleum of Sultan El Ghuri. The mosque of Mohammed Ali embodied the Ottoman period.