Doors of Happiness

I recently visited the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. The AKM opened in 2014, and celebrates the arts of Muslim civilisations from the Iberian Peninsula to China.  The collection includes various artefacts and cultural objects that span from the eighth Century to the present.

The stated purpose of the Aga Khan Museum is that it will become “a centre of education and of learning, and that it will act as a catalyst for mutual understanding and tolerance”.

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the aga khan museum

Among the items on display I found and photographed three pairs of double doors, which are displayed here as my contribution to Norm’s Thursday Doors for the week of July 12, 2018. There was no indication of the context in which these these doors were originally used, so they can only be admired for their design and craftsmanship.

The first pair of doors are from Northern Iran, and are very specifically dated to have been carved in the years 1486-1487 AD. In the Muslim calendar, this is equivalent to the year 892 H (Hijri). The geometric design is quite unique, especially when compared to contemporary arts and crafts design in Europe.

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Iranian doors, 1486-87

The second pair of doors originates in either Iran or northern India, from the late 18th or early 19th Century. The doors are embellished with carved and painted floral patterns around the edges of the frames and inner panels. The Persian inscription in cartouches at the top is translated to state:

Open the door of happiness for the owner of this door, opener of doors.

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doors of happiness

There is very little information provided about the third set of doors. They are constructed of wood, metal and mother of pearl, and probably originate from Gujarat, India, in the 19th-20th Century.

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pearly gates

The People of Weald & Downland

This post is dedicated to the people of the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum. Many volunteers contribute to the ongoing success of the museum, demonstrating peoples’ daily lives in earlier times. There were many opportunities to catch people in action – as well as one mannequin.

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The Baker
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The Blacksmith
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The Greeter
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The Woodworker
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The Wool Carder
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Long-haired and Short-haired Visitors

Small Buildings – Series 3

I recently visited the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, located in West Sussex in the UK. Founded in 1967, this independent museum was established to preserve hundreds of years of history of rural and village life.

Many historic buildings from the region have been relocated to the Museum. Two of these are included in this series of images.

The Toll House was moved from Beeding in Sussex. It was originally built in the early 1800’s to control entry to a new turnpike, and tolls were collected for all vehicular and animal traffic. For example, “For every Horse, Mule, Afs. or other Beast laden or unladen and not drawing, the Sum of Two-pence”. Toll roads are not a new thing.

Whittaker’s Cottage #1 was built in Asthead Surrey in the 1860’s. It is furnished with the Museum’s collections as it may have been in the late 19th Century, when the house was occupied by the Filkins family, which included 8 children. Each floor of the 2-storey cottage has two rooms – one heated, and the other not. I wonder how the heated bedrooms were allocated?

Stay tuned for a post on the people of the Weald & Downland.

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Toll House from Beeding, Sussex
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Whittaker’s Cottage #1

A day out at the Museum

Whenever possible, a trip to London should include a visit to the British Museum, located in the Bloomsbury area.

The Museum is a good place to go to watch people, as well as a place of historical significance. Like most large museums, you need to have a plan and a specific objective to make the visit worthwhile.

Our quest was to view the treasures from Sutton Hoo. We had just been to the Sutton Hoo archaeological site in Suffolk. The site contains several 7th Century burial mounds which were just recently (historically speaking) excavated in the 20th Century. Now a National Trust site, there are not many original artefacts that are on display at Sutton Hoo – you have to visit the British Museum to see the real things.

Like many of the other national museums in the UK, admission to the British Museum is free (donations are gratefully appreciated). The museum relies on a lot of private and corporate donations to keep it operating. You can view the names of some of the most significant donors on the wall of the circular Reading Room in the middle of the courtyard.

The Great Court (the centre of the museum) is covered with a glass roof, creating the largest covered square in Europe.

As many of the artefacts at the British Museum were collected during the heydays of the British Empire, the Museum is not without its controversies. There are several items in the collections that have been claimed by other countries, requesting their return to their place of origin. The Sutton Hoo treasures were locally sourced, so these should remain in the UK.

We did sight two carved totem poles from the Canadian west coast on display in the courtyard. Are they just on loan?

One final technical point for other photographers. I found that the AWB setting on my camera did not adapt well to the covered courtyard. All of my images had a significant green tint. Thank goodness for the white balance adjustment brush in Lightroom!

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classical modern
here's looking at you, kid
here’s looking at you, kid!
on the move
on the move
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premium seating
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Haida totem pole