THE HUNT: CEL­E­BRAT­ING THE SPORT OF KINGS

Qatar Today - - CULTURE > QT TAKE -

In the early 1500s one could see mounted fal­con­ers, lions and chee­tahs in their mag­nif­i­cence and it made hunt­ing an art with its tri­umphs cel­e­brated na­tion­wide. Hunt­ing dis­played courage and strength and was con­sid­ered to be a way of demon­strat­ing author­ity. The new ex­hibit at the Mu­seum of Is­lamic Art show­cases their au­tumn col­lec­tion, The Hunt: Princely Pur­suits in Is­lamic Lands which high­lights the royal iconog­ra­phy through­out the Is­lamic world from Spain to China. Ac­cord­ing to Mirzah Namah (the Book of the Per­fect Gentle­men, com­posed around 1660 CE), among other qual­i­ties, the true gentle­men should have an eye for horses and fal­cons, play polo and be trained in archery. The por­trayal of hunt­ing scenes in Is­lamic art over time bears tes­ta­ment to the im­por­tance placed not only on the sport it­self, but also on the an­i­mals in­volved. It fea­tures im­agery of hu­mans and an­i­mals hunt­ing, both as team­mates and en­e­mies.

Hunt­ing served as a means for rulers to show their valour in times of peace, dis­play­ing their skills both as ex­perts and lead­ers. Royal hunts were im­pres­sive sights and of­ten enor­mous in size, of­fer­ing the King's men the oc­ca­sion to strengthen so­cial ties while im­prov­ing their skills as horse­men.

An oil paint­ing by Henri Em­i­lien Rousseau (1926) which beau­ti­fully

cap­tures a hunt­ing scene from ru­ral life in

North Africa.

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