Seeking out steel

We take a closer look at Qatar’s only permanent arms and armour display Discuss this article

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© ITP Images

This month, we visit Qatar Museums’ newest art exhibition, Powder and Damask: Islamic Arms and Armour from the Collection of Fadel Al Mansoori. The exhibition features an interesting collection of a variety of edged weapons and firearms from the 17th to the mid-19th century. The diversity of styles and materials is stunning, and you can look around to see exquisite pieces of ivory, horn, gold inlay and calligraphy, all used to decorate these weapons during this period.

Under the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal empires, weapons were valued not just for their intended purposes, but also as pieces of art. Powder and Damask explores this art of craftsmanship that reached unparalleled levels in the regions of Turkey, Iran and India, where they were initially crafted.

The collection, belonging to Qatari collector Fadel Al Mansoori, is impressive in many ways, from the preservation of the pieces to their highly sought-after nature. Al Mansoori’s interest in arms and armour began six years ago. His passion is rooted in a fascination with
Damascus steel and he also has a keen interest in conservation, highlighted in the exhibit. This is, therefore, a great opportunity for visitors to learn about the important contribution of the Islamic world in the evolution and advancement of arms and armour, and possibly beneficial for private collectors as well. They can educate themselves on the importance of proper care for the long-term preservation
of historic pieces.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is the use of Damascus steel, known for its flexibility, durability and beautiful surface patterns. Islamic arms and armour are perhaps most famous for this and are important differentiators of quality.
Free entrance. Runs till May 2018. Sun-Wed 10.30am-5.30pm, Fri 2pm-2pm, Sat 12pm-8pm, Tue closed. Museum of Islamic Arts, Al Corniche (4422 4444).

By Shereen D’Souza
Time Out Doha,

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