Islamic decoration, which tends to avoid using figurative images, makes frequent use of geometric patterns which have developed over the centuries. Islamic interlace patterns developed from the rich interlacing patterns of the Byzantine Empire and from Coptic art.
The MIA textile collection has some of the finest examples of carpets, costumes and a wide variety of fabrics produced for the elite of the Islamic world. Although only a small number of textiles have survived, especially from before the 16th century, such items were some of the most important luxury products of the Middle East.
The resulting cloths were used in rugs, carpets and tents. Tents were usually made up of naturally colored cloth, whereas rugs and carpets used dyed cloth, mainly red and yellow. The dyes were made from desert herbs, with simple geometrical designs being employed.
A simple form of embroidery practiced by Qatari women was known as kurar. It involved four women, each carrying four threads, who braided the threads on articles of clothing, mainly thawbs or abayas. The braids, varying in color, were sewn vertically. It was similar to heavy chain stitch embroidery. Gold threads, known as zari, were commonly used.
Another type of embroidery involved the designing of caps called gohfiahs. They were made from cotton and were pierced with thorns from palm-trees to allow the women to sew between the holes. This form of embroidery declined in popularity after the country began importing the caps. Prior to the stitching process, a shape was drawn onto the fabric by a skilled artist. The most common designs were birds and flowers.
Museum of Islamic Art, Doha
The Museum of Islamic Art (Arabic: متحف الفن الإسلامي,) is a museum located on one end of the seven kilometers long Corniche in the Qatari capital, Doha. As with the architect I. M. Pei’s requirement, the museum is built on an island off an artificial projecting peninsula near the traditional dhow (wooden Qatari boat) harbor. A purpose-built park surrounds the edifice on the Eastern and Southern facades while 2 bridges connect the Southern front facade of the property with the main peninsula that holds the park. The Western and Northern facades are marked by the harbor showcasing the Qatari seafaring past.
The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) represents Islamic art from three continents over 1,400 years. Its collection includes metal work, ceramics, jewelry, wood work, textiles and glass obtained from three continents and dating from the 7th to the 19th century.
Qatar’s ambition to become the most important cultural destination of the Gulf’s area was made concrete in 2008 with the opening of the MIA, the Museum of Islamic Art. It was designed by I.M. Pei, the Chinese-American architect that notably built the glass pyramid for the Louvre in Paris. It is considered to be one of the world’s great museums.
The art scene in Qatar witnessed substantial development in the mid- and late 1950s. Initially, arts were overseen by the Ministry of Education, with art exhibitions being hosted in its facilities. In 1972, the government started providing increased funding to aid the development of arts within the country. The father of modern artists in Qatar is Jassim Zaini (1943-2012) whose work explored diversity in techniques and documented the changing society from traditional local life to a global style. The Qatari Fine Arts Society was established in 1980 with the objective of promoting the works of Qatari artists.In 1998, the National Council for Culture, Arts and Heritage was established. Qatar Museums was established in the early 2000s to build and connect all museums and collections in Qatar. Two major museums lead the institution: the Museum of Islamic Art opened in 2008, and the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, opened in Education City Qatar Foundation in 2010.