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AIAS Organizes Exhibit of Afghan Paintings: "Splendors of Medieval Timurid Art of Afghanistan"

Medieval Art of Afghanistan

The American Institute of Afghanistan Studies (AIAS) is pleased to announce the opening of “Splendours of Medieval Timurid Art in Afghanistan” at Herât Citadel. This exhibition, the first in a series of exhibitions within Afghanistan, will showcase state-of-the-art reproductions of works of art painted in Herât and Kabul in the 15th through 18th centuries.

The series retraces development of royal painting in Afghanistan under the Western Timurids at Herât and then under the Eastern (= Mughal) Timurids in Kabul from the early 15th century to the founding of the Afghan kingdom in the 18th century. The exhibition at Herât Castle illustrates the technical, historical and stylistic evolution of Timurid book painting by 15th and 16thcentury Herâtî masters including Bihzâd, Shaykh-Zâda and Mahmûd-i Muzahhib, and further features pictorial representations of individual rulers and princes, along with scenes of territories and trade routes linking cultural ties between Herât and Kabul and the Chinese, Indian and Mediterranean worlds.

The purpose of this series is to restore access and awareness in Afghanistan – and abroad – regarding this central cultural heritage. Not one original painting from this period remains on Afghan soil. While their international dispersal since the sixteenth century undoubtedly saved these delicate works of art, it also remains an almost unparalleled educational tragedy that such an extraordinary cultural legacy should have become so utterly lost – from sight and memory – to the Afghan people today.

Part I of the series, featuring 106 images in Herat, opens on December 2, 2017 for three months and is free and open to the general public. Part II will open in Kabul during Nowruz/end of March 2018.

The program is curated and conceptualized by Dr. Michael Barry (Distinguished Professor, American University of Afghanistan; formerly Princeton University) who co-leads the program with Dr. Thomas Barfield (Professor, Boston University; President, AIAS). Logistical support is provided by Mikaela Ringquist (Grant Director, AIAS), Rohullah Amin (Kabul Director, AIAS), Annika Schmeding (Project Coordinator, AIAS; PhD Candidate, Boston University), and James Souza (U.S. Administrative Director, AIAS). Reproductions on Dibond metal are made by Central Dupon Laboratoire in Paris, France.

This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the Embassies of the United States and France in Kabul.

For more information on the exhibit, visit

For more information on AIAS, visit

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