Treasures of Afghanistan

Thursday, a group of art lovers from Trinity Episcopal Church in Southport had the pleasure of visiting the ‘Treasures of Afghanistan’ exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Afghan map 2008

Afghanistan lies at the crossroads between East and West on the Great Silk Route which runs roughly from Xian in China to Byzantium (Constantinople) in Turkey.  As such it was cross-cultural in nature.

Afghanistan was rich in the precious stone lapis lazuli, which was traded for silk, gold and other precious stones.  The treasures shown below (and in the exhibit) come from sites at Fullol, Ai Khanum, Begram and Tillya Tepe and range from the third century BC to the first century AD.

The history of this exhibit is unbelievable.  In a land torn by decades of war and strife, some quick thinking government and museum officials were able to hide away some of the greatest handiwork of the ages.  “Workers involved in the transfer swore secrecy and designated ‘key holders’ for the vaults. They kept their covenant through civil war and Taliban rule at enormous personal risk”. (National Geographic)

Afghan Folding Crown

I think this gold folding crown was my favorite.  I love the intricacy of the design and the folding functionality.  Many of the peoples along the Silk Route were nomadic and they carried their fortunes with them in gold jewelry inlaid with precious stones.

Afghan Gold Jewelry

More examples of the gold jewelry.  I would wear those bracelets! Just imagine wearing all of the wealth that you own-no savings accounts or safety deposit boxes…

Afghan lionheadbracelets

The level of detail on these lion heads is mind boggling.

Afghan Cybele Disc

This disc with Cybele is fascinating because it combines symbols of so many different religious and cultural beliefs in one item.

Afghan Painted Goblet of Achilles and Hector

First of all note that this is painted glass.  I still can’t believe that it survived at all.  It tells the Greek story of Achilles and Hector but is painted in the Roman style.

Afghan Blue Glass Vessel

The detail on this blue glass vessel is simply amazing.  The curlicues are added by dripping hot glass on to the vessel to form the design.

Afghan Ivory Carvings for Furniture

These ivory carvings again show elements from several cultures.  The design of the architecture reminds me of Hindu temples that I saw in Indonesia.

The Treasures of Afghanistan leaves the Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 20th.  It is well worth a special trip to enjoy this breath-taking exhibit.

(all images from websites of National Geographic, Flickr and the Metropolitan Museum of Art)


2 Responses to “Treasures of Afghanistan”

  1. Patti Kekelik-Terpstra Says:

    Wow this was so exciting I’m planning on scheduling a time to visit the Met, Thanks for sharing. My Fav from these photos you provide is disc with Cybele. Love the inlaid gold!

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