Paradise on Earth
Manuscripts, Miniatures and Mendicants of Kashmir
The Kashmir valley’s natural beauty has been lauded by poets and princes over the centuries. Routes through the valley were traversed by invaders, traders, missionaries, pilgrims, artists and political envoys, all of whom brought with them different faiths and philosophies, creating a culturally rich region where the arts flourished. The exhibition Paradise on Earth: Manuscripts, Miniatures and Mendicants from Kashmir explores the artistic traditions of the region.
The displays are based on the following themes:
1. A History of Kashmir: presenting a brief overview of Kashmir from ancient times to the present. It summarises the complex history of the region and highlights the extraordinary diaspora that inhabited the valley.
2. The Illuminated Page: among the texts being produced in Kashmir, Qur’ans occupied a pre-eminent position. Master calligraphers and illuminators worked together to create works of art with opulent decorations and magnificent scripts.
3. The Illustrated Page: Kashmir has been a centre of manuscript production since the advent of Muslim rule in 1320 and some of the Mughal world’s most celebrated artists originated from the valley. This section presents the rich tradition of manuscript illustration with a selection of Persian literary and spiritual texts.
4. Artistic Contacts — The World Beyond Kashmir: migration and mobility lies at the heart of Kashmir’s diverse artistic traditions. At the crossroads of Central Asia, South Asia, Iran, and China, the valley was exposed to a wide range of artistic styles and practices. The connections forged through cultural exchange are illustrated through paintings and manuscripts from neighboring artistic centers, including those from the Pahari region of the Himalayan foothills.
5. Decorative Arts: these include a variety of exquisite objects in silver, copper, bronze and gold, carved and lacquered wood, woven and embroidered textiles.
The exhibition pays tribute to the people of Kashmir who despite continuing turmoil show courage and resilience in sustaining their artistic traditions.
The objects for this exhibition have been generously loaned by the National Museum of Pakistan and various private collectors.