The V&A holds over 19,000 items from the Middle East and North Africa, ranging from the early Islamic period (the 7th century) to the early 20th century. The collections include holdings of metalwork, ceramics, architectural woodwork and textiles, in particular from Iran, and also from Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and the countries of North Africa.
The Ardabil Carpet
The Ardabil Carpet, is the world's oldest dated carpet and one of the largest, most beautiful and historically important in the world. In 2006, the V&A created a case in the centre of Room 42: The Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art, so that the carpet could be seen as intended, on the floor. To preserve its colours, it is lit for ten minutes on the hour and half-hour.
Exhibition - Jameel Prize
The Jameel Prize is an international award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition. Its aim is to explore the relationship between Islamic traditions of art, craft and design and contemporary work as part of a wider debate about Islamic culture and its role today.
The V&A: working in and with the Middle East and North Africa
The V&A's principal gallery for Islamic art from the Middle East reopened in July 2006 as the splendid Jameel Gallery of the Islamic Art. In July 2009, the V&A hosted the first Jameel Prize, an international prize for a contemporary artist whose work is inspired by Islamic traditions of craft and design. All the shortlisted artists have roots in the Middle East or South Asia, and Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon and Iran are all represented.
Europe & the Islamic Mediterranean AD 700–1600
As Islam became established, contacts developed with the Christian-ruled states of Europe. The city republics of Venice, Florence and Genoa controlled maritime trade in the Mediterranean, and their merchants were principally responsible for the movement of Islamic goods around its coasts. These objects were prized, because at least initially the materials and techniques used to make them were far more sophisticated than anything being made in Europe at the time.
Islamic architecture of the Middle East
This series of short videos was created for visitors to the Islamic Middle East gallery at the V&A. The videos show some of the great historical buildings of the Islamic period. This is the architectural setting for which many of the objects on display in the gallery were made.