THE HUNT: CELEBRATING THE SPORT OF KINGS
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