Handmade Artisan Jewelry On Display At The Islamic Arts Museum in Malaysia

During his twenty-two years as Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad achieved many significant goals for his nation, and is widely credited as having engineered the speedy modernization that Malaysia underwent while he was in power. One of Mahathir's landmark achievements was the establishment of the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM) in Kuala Lumpur in December of 1998. When the museum opened first opened, it was conceived as a unique venture - an attempt to create a collection that could be "truly representative of the Islamic world." This would mean concentrating not only on artifacts from Persia and the Middle East, but also from China, Southeast Asia, and India. The museum is currently home to over 7,000 artifacts, in addition to one of the world's best collections of Islamic-art books.

The museum's vast collection of art objects includes everything from tiny and delicate pieces of handmade artisan jewelry to enormous scale models of Mecca's Masjid al-Haram. Since its inception, the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia has become a sort of cultural centre, transcending the typical roles of an art museum, and becoming a sort of world ambassador of Islamic culture and art. The collection has grown steadily and significantly over the past decade, and the displays have developed a greater sense of vibrancy. Yet despite these changes, IAMM chairman Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary said at the IAMM's 10th anniversary that the museum has maintained its vital and continual purpose - to be a "custodian, preserver and educator" for Islamic culture.    

Because the IAMM aims to represent a broad worldview of Islamic culture it its entirely, the museum's collections contain artifacts from all over the globe, from Spain, to Africa, to the Malay Peninsula. The wide variety of textiles, furniture, ceramics, coins, metalwork, handmade artisan jewelry, armor, and artwork is itself a testament to the astonishing range and diversity of Islamic culture. And yet, despite this diversity, the juxtaposition of articles from many different regions also gives light to the universality of certain principles that seem ubiquitous in Islamic culture worldwide.  

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