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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

India and Islam

When I heard about the exhibition “Overlapping Realms: Arts of the Islamic World and India” at the Sackler Museum, I thought it would be either an exhibition on works showing how Islamic and Indian art influenced each other, how they adopted styles from each other, or maybe a side-by-side comparison of art from the two cultures from the same time periods.

Unfortunately, the exhibit isn’t any of these things. When I saw what “Overlapping Realms” really was, I was disappointed. First of all, the exhibition is small, about six small display cases in a mid-size room. Secondly, it’s billed as an exhibition of work from the Indian and Islamic worlds; only one display case is of Indian work, the rest are from Iran and Turkey. Thirdly, each display case represents a different period of time, so, while there is art of both the Indian and Islamic varieties, you can’t really compare it, as they’re from different centuries.

The artwork on display is mainly of the ceramic variety. Bowls and tiles painted with geometric patterns, plant motifs (particularly vines or long stemmed plants) and the occasional bird or fish. Colors tend toward the blues, browns and tans (not on the same piece though), and the occasional unpainted bronze, or the pieces were painted, and the pigment wore off long ago. Earlier pieces tend to be more utilitarian, and later pieces more decorative; nothing out of the ordinary there.

The only interesting part of the exhibit is the sole display of Indian art. Unlike the other cases, which mainly featured ceramics, the Indian case has daggers with hilts made out of jade and quartz, an incense burner and kettle made out of metal, and, according to the card, an opium cup made out of crystal. I would have liked more information on the opium cup, as it looked like a glass egg and I could not figure out what exactly its use was, other than it had something to do with opium.

The art is nothing that you can’t see in the Museum of Fine Arts (UMass students can get into the MFA for free-it’s $6 to get into the Sackler-and the MFA has better hours). Also, the MFA has a larger collection on display. Basically if you’re interested in Islamic or Indian art, then go ahead and see “Overlapping Realms.” Otherwise, there are better museum exhibitions you can see in the area for a better price.