Discover objects and stories from the local Oxford community and our Multaka-Oxford team — exclusive to the online gallery.
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Multaka volunteer and maths postgraduate student Jonathan Fruchter was inspired by the Islamic Metalwork exhibition to create this short animated film.
Watch pioneering Persian polymath Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī explain the beautiful symmetries in Islamic design.
From Healing Bowls and bracelets to metalwork in the market and creating your own Islamic patterns — read personal stories from volunteers in the Multaka-Oxford team and Museum friends in the Oxford community.
Memories of a loving father: Healing Drinking Bowl
Multaka volunteer Marriam Jawaad shares a gift from her father engraved with a verse from the Quran:
"I would like to share with you my Healing Drinking Bowl.
"The Arabic verse written inside the bowl is titled 'Ayat al-Kursi', also known as the 'Throne verse'. Ayat al-Kursi is regarded as one of the most powerful verses in the Quran (Al-Baqara 255).
"As Muslims, we believe that a person can drink the water from this bowl and it will give them Shifa (recovery from illness) from Allah (God) and protection from the evil eye, Shaitan (Satan).
"The healing bowl has been used in my country, Pakistan, for hundreds of years, and in many households throughout the world. It is a gift from my father who has passed away, and reminds me of him and what he would do to ensure our safety when we were unwell."
Translation of the text on the Healing Drinking Bowl:
Allah! There is no deity but Him, the Alive, the Eternal.
Neither slumber nor sleep overtaketh Him.
Unto Him belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth.
Who could intercede in His presence without His permission?
He knoweth that which is in front of them and that which is behind them,
while they encompass nothing of His knowledge except what He wills.
His throne includeth the heavens and the earth,
and He is never weary of preserving them.
He is the Sublime, the Tremendous.
From the mines, through the embers and the moulds: objects as memories
Multaka volunteer Rachida shares the beautitful jewellery which was the last gift from a wonderful friend
"Seven years ago, I spent a wonderful evening with my friend Samira and Mrs Fadama, who showed us jewellery from Tzenit, a city in Morocco known as the Capital of Silver. This silver (Naqra) can be traditional or modern, heavy or light, simple or decorated.
"My friend Samira saw this ring and bracelet and said with joy, 'They’re beautiful, I’ll buy them'. The saying is true that 'silent jewellery is more influential on women than the sweetest words'. I asked Mrs Fadama if she had any more, but she didn’t. Suddenly, Samira took hers off and said, 'Take them, my dear friend”'.
"I didn't know it would be her last gift to me.
"The next morning, I received the news that Samira had died in a car accident. I felt great sadness, but that's when I looked at the bracelet and ring and told them:
'Yesterday you were on her hand and today you are on mine.
Where will you be after my death and what stories will you continue to witness?
Just as you have already witnessed your story: from the mines, through the embers and the moulds, to the objects and the special memories you now are.'”.
"Maths can really be beautiful and fun"
Multaka volunteer and postgraduate maths student Jonathan Fruchter was inspired by Precious and Rare: Islamic Metalwork from The Courtauld to design a computer programme where you can create your own symmetrical Islamic patterns online.
"With just a few brushstrokes, you can create beautiful, Islamic-inspired wallpaper patterns ".
Have a go — and see stunning patterns appear before your eyes.
Watch Jonathan talk about his inspiration for the pattern generator
Venice: a cultural meeting point
Multaka volunteer Eva Haghighi found inspiration in The Courtauld candlesticks and the dish, both associated with Italy — and Venice in particular.
Eva told us:
"I thought it would be interesting to explore Venice and the city’s role in the context of trade between Europe and Asia, as the theme fits the broader Multaka theme of ‘meeting points of different cultures’.
"One possible way to do so could be through quotes from Marco Polo or Marino Sanudo’s diaries as it pertains to gifts exchanged between diplomats.
"The items that I believe could be especially interesting are those related to food, as for instance spices coming from Asia became an integral part of many European cuisines.
"Food is an incredibly important aspect of social life both in Italian and Persian culture, and the same is true in my family, where my Italian mother and my Iranian father both cook and have taught me traditional recipes from their respective countries.
"I think it could be interesting to link the historical and contemporary aspects of food as an element which can bring people and cultures together.".
Take a look at Eva's research into Venice and the Islamic World:
Iraqi Women Art and War: Cultural Conversations in Iraq
Iraqi Women Art and War (IWAW) captures oral-history stories in an artistic way from women before, during, and after the war which started in 2003.
The project supports women to integrate into British culture and society, building bridges within communities.
IWAW's founder, Rana Ibrahim, shared with us some of the videos she captured in Iraq focusing on Islamic Metalwork in the 21st century.
Rana shares her perfume bottle and memories of Iraq
"This is a traditional Iraqi metal object from Souk Al-Saffafeer/Saffarin (a metal market in Baghdad).
"This market is considered one of the oldest markets in Baghdad and dates back to the era of the Abbasid Caliphate.
"My object is a perfume bottle used for wedding celebrations to put rose water in. It is a copy of my family one which is made of silver; this one is made of copper.
"I love it so much as it reminds me of the sound of the metalwork in this market.
"I purchased it when I went back to Iraq in 2018, after not being able to visit for 18 years due to War. In my YouTube videos (IWAW), I talked to one of the last specialists in this artwork field. He told me how this rare craft is in danger after 2003 due to the lack of support from the new regime and no-one supporting the artists.
"I also visited the only institute in Baghdad which teaches the new generation (age 13+) — who also felt neglected by the new government — these unique skills. From this platform, I urgently raised awareness of these rare Iraqi artwork skills which is fading due to the lack of support."
Rana also showed us an engraved picture of a woman’s face on a circular metal canvas from her family home in Iraq
"She wears traditional Egyptian jewellery, a transparent burqa (face covering) and make-up with kohl; this is a very well-known attire in the Egyptian countryside.
"In Iraq we used to watch a lot of Egyptian drama/films which familiarised us with different Egyptian outfits and dialects in any part of Egypt.
"It is a very special picture to me because it was hanging in my family house in Iraq until I emigrated in 2000 and I have always admired the beautiful artwork.
"However, this object is originally from Egypt; it was given by my uncle to my mother — as he lived in Egypt and his wife was Egyptian — when he visited us in the seventies.
"I kept this picture because it reminds me of my childhood. Now, this object is with me in the UK and started a new era of stories since I moved to the UK in 2003.
"I will make sure this item will pass down to my daughters and they will pass it to their children as a sign of keeping our family heritage."