The exhibition includes more than 300 pieces from different Islamic countries and consists of four sections:
Islamic art from the origin of Islam in the 7th century to the Mongol invasion (13th century) - the cultural traditions and achievements of the nations involved absorbed into the Caliphate’s range of dominance, such as: Egypt, Syria and the Sassanid Empire.
The second section illustrates the subsequent development of Islamic art from the Mongol invasion well up to the 16th century. The influence of Chinese culture is specially emphasized in this section, notably with the export of both Chinese goods and cultural and artistic traditions as is clearly shown by the numerous Chinese themes and subjects adopted by Islamic art and the imitation of Chinese silk and porcelain increasingly gaining popularity.
The third section jointly displays works of art dating from 16th-19th centuries and originating from various Islamic countries. It is during this period that Islamic culture is strongly affected by European traditions because of the industrial boom in Europe and subsequent intensification of trade resulting in European culture becoming more popular in Islamic countries.
The fourth section deals with political (both diplomatic and military) contacts between Russia and the Islamic World. Among the exhibits are diplomatic gifts from monarchs of Islamic countries to Russian tsars and emperors and trophies captured by Russian soldiers in the numerous wars with Turkey and Persia. The tent from Bukhara, the gem of the display, has been restored to the exact original shape of the pavilion which is really a portable palace.
Also, 69 works of Indian art are on view among which are the famous Nader Shah’s gifts, consisting of masterpieces of Indian jewellery dating from the 17th-18th centuries which the Persian ruler gained possession of, before eventually presenting them to the Russian monarch.
The State Hermitage Museum Web Site