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About The Museum Of Islamic Ceramics

Egypt has a huge number of museums and due to the long diverse history of the land of the Nile, Egypt enjoys a huge collection of items and exhibits gathered from different periods of time. The Egyptian government, during the last century, managed to find many interesting museums to house these wonderful items that attracted the attention of tourists from all over the world.

The Museum of Islamic Ceramics in Cairo's Zamalek neighborhood mainly consists of six sections displaying exhibitions from six styles that were spread in Egypt during different periods of Islamic history. Each of these sections has its own character and magic the fact which makes a visit to the museum quite interesting for any visitor who is fond of the art of ceramics in particular and Egyptian history in general.

Arabs and Muslims have always been distinguished in the field of traditional pottery production. Since the early days of Islam, and even before the appearance of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula, Arabs have used pottery for the production of many items for many diverse uses.

The idea behind establishing a museum to exhibit Islamic ceramics as a component of the Gezira Arts Center in Zamalek was actually due to a number of factors and reasons. Egypt has one of the most ancient civilizations in the world and the art of ceramics has always been associated with different periods of Egyptian history. Therefore, there had to be a place to host this rich large collection of ceramics from Egypt and other neighboring countries.


Location Of The Museum

The museum occupies the first two floors of Amir Amr Ibrahim Palace in Zamalek, a small neighborhood near downtown Cairo. Constructed in the 1940s, the palace is distinguished by its marvelous architectural and decorative styles which is a wonderful mixture of European classical styles with Moroccan, Andalusian, and Turkish influences, a type of art that was quite popular during the ruling period of the family of Mohamed Ali.

The palace consists mainly of large wide halls and galleries all surrounding the main lobby with the attractive fountain coated with colored marble in the middle and the grand dome above. Featured with its wonderful tinted glass windows, the palace of Prince Amr Ibrahim is a magnificent contemporary monument. The Amir Amr Ibrahim Palace also features wonderfully crafted and ornamented walls and ceilings with many different decorations, calligraphy, and lovely styles of Arabian-style decorations.


The Fatimid Section Of The Museum

The Fatimid section of the Museum of Islamic Ceramics is one of the most remarkable in the museum and hosts the oldest and most valuable displays in the museum. situated to the right-hand side of the main entrance to the museum, this hall has a rectangular shape with three large Mashrabeya windows, decorated with Arabic and Turkish Calligraphy, wonderfully white, blue, and red Ottoman tiles, and many plants shaped Arabian-style decorations. In the center of the hall, there is a dining table made out of marble, which was originally among the furniture of the palace. It is now used to display 19 items from the museum consisting of 16 plates and 3 pots with different sizes, shapes, and decorations. However, all of them were made during the Fatimid period between the 10th and 12th Centuries. 

On the left and the right side of the entrance to the Fatimid section, there are two marble tables displaying a number of interesting items including oil bottles, small flowerpots, and some royal seals made out of pottery that belong to the Ottoman period. Other tables in this section display wooden windows which host famous traditional pottery jars (the Egyptian Ola), pots, bottles, and many other interesting items created during the Fatimid reign in Egypt with a total number of 72 distinctive displays.


Ottoman Section Of The Museum

The same as the Fatimid section, the Ottoman section has a rectangularly shaped hall featured with large Mashrabeya screen windows, the famous red, white, and blue Turkish-style tiles on the walls, and there are also some remarkable gypsum decorations. On the left-hand side of the entrance to the section, there is a marvelous traditional fireplace decorated with Ottoman tiles with wonderful Arabic letters calligraphy, and the floor of this hall is coated with marble tiles with geometric shapes; a large square surrounded by eight smaller squares blended together in marvelous harmony. The Ottoman section hosts 12 glass displays places and it hosts more than 100 items, that date back to the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The displays include plates, dishes, bowls, pitchers, cups, pots, mugs, and decorated tiles with many amazing various styles of decoration.


Egyptian Section Of The Museum

This section, intersected with the Ottoman section, displays the items that were manufactured in Egypt in different stages of Islamic history; the Umayyad, the Ayoubid, the Mamluk, and the Ottoman periods. This section has six display glasses with more than 40 items exhibited with different sizes and various usages. The items of this section are featured with their simple yet charming ornaments and colors with calligraphy, geometric, animals, and plant outline of decorations.

This section of the museum also hosts some displays from the Turkish and Persian styles which are characterized by the plant's trappings. These displays include flowerpots, pitchers, and bowls. Among the most distinguished displays of this section, there is this Parisian style pitcher which has the head of an animal, a royal style that was common among the family of Mohamed Ali.


Lobby Of The Museum

Situated at the entrance of the museum, the lobby is located at the heart of the palace. It is featured with its wonderful fountain and notable marble and gypsum decorations. Above the lobby of the palace, there is a unique Mamluk-style dome that consists of a square shape with each side being richly decorated with colored glass. A large copper chandelier gives this section a special ambiance. The lobby hosts a number of displays that were made in Syria during the 12th and 13th centuries including pitchers, pots, cups, and different bowls which are very interesting to the visitors entering the museum for the first time.


Second Floor Of The Museum

An internal staircase leads the visitor from the lobby of the palace to the upper floor which overlooks the lobby and some other sections of the museum. This was actually the (Haramlek) of the palace or the section which was specified for the owners of the house to feel comfortable in. This section is dedicated to Persian displays including many pitchers, plates, dishes, and bowls which all have this shining aspect as if they were made out of metals. The decorations are various as some of them follow the common animal and plant outline of decorations while others are rather much more sophisticated in their ornaments and coloring.


Section Of The Prince

This section is one of the components of the second floor of the museum. It consists of an outer chamber, a middle room, and then a bathroom. The outer chamber has the shape of a square with a wooden wall closest that is decorated with a mother of pearl. Situated on the left-hand side of the room, there is a small wonderful fountain coated with marble all over and a number of ornamented bookshelves. All of these items are among the original furniture and belongings of Amir Amr Ibrahim. This room hosts only five displays. The first is a plate that was made in Morocco during the 18th century. The other four are different items made in Syria during the 12th century. The middle room or the hall of the prince is featured with its baroque and rococo styles of decoration blended with the Turkish and Islamic outlines which were dominated in Egypt during the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The hall of the prince has some marvelous furniture which includes a decorated wooden sofa, and a mother of pearl decorated wooden box which was used to store the jewelry and the valuables items of the prince.

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