While in Berlin last week we visited the Pergamon museum with the primary intention of viewing the Islamic art section. We ended up, however, most astounded by the classical temple friezes and the altar of Zeus after which the museum is named. The temple was located on an acropolis in the ancient Greek city (Pergamon) which is now located in modern-day Turkey close to the Aegean coast. It was constructed during the first half of the 2nd century BC and is still in remarkable condition considering its age. Standing at the base of this vast monument one can really sense the dual purpose of the altar which was both to worship the gods who protect the city and to display the immense power of the ruler and his polis. The frieze sculptures have been carved in a high relief lending greater impact to the beautiful fluid folds of the tunics, the skillfully defined muscles of the figures and horses, and the liveliness and strength of the composition. The sense of movement and drama the artists have succeeded in capturing in these stone figures is simply awe-inspiring, and made me wonder for one melancholy moment where all the talent has gone.
Aside from these classical marvels, being forever drawn to rich colours I enjoyed the exquisite and varied selection of carpets from different regions of the Islamic world.
16th century “Holbein” rug from Western Anatolia.