Exhibit | The Art of Adornment: Selections of Jewellery from the Islamic Era

Wednesday, March 1, 2023toThursday, August 31, 2023
Morrice Hall Islamic Studies Library, 3485 rue McTavish, Montreal, QC, H3A 0E1, CA
Jewellery on green background.

Far from being the most commonly studied form of Islamic art, “jewellery is among the oldest form of decorative art”[1] in Muslim societies, and has a deep and long history in different parts of the Muslim World. The one thousand years time span and the many regional Muslim cultures represented make it difficult to generalize on the place and role of jewellery in Muslim Societies[2].

Indeed, techniques and styles of manufacture of Islamic jewellery were strongly rooted in pre-Islamic and local artistic traditions (Pharaonic, Greek, Byzantine, etc.). The many functions of jewellery included personal ornamentation, distinction from others, display of wealth showing one’s place in the social hierarchy, and individual protection[3] (i.e. amulets and talismans). Last, attitudes towards the wearing and manufacture of jewellery fluctuated overtime (ranging from institutionalization to proscription), reflecting the variety of local cultural, political and religious practices.

In this exhibition, we will show different types jewellery manufactured and worn in the many areas of the Muslim World. The display intends to give a glimpse of an incredibly rich yet relatively unknown Islamic artistic tradition while highlighting beautifully illustrated arts books from the Islamic Studies Library collection.

The Art of Adornment: Selections of Jewellery from the Islamic Era exhibition is accessible Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the main floor of the Islamic Studies Library from March 1 to August 31, 2023.


[1] Dowe, Badriya Yasmeen. Jewellery of the Islamic World: an introduction. Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, 2009.

[2] Spink, Michael and Jack Ogden. The Art of adornment: jewellery of the Islamic lands. Part One. London, U.K.: The Nour Foundation, 2013.

[3] Al-Saleh, Yasmine. “Amulets and Talismans from the Islamic World.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/tali/hd_tali.htm (November 2010)

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