Arts, Cleveland, Culture
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At the Museum: Muhammad Shah’s Royal Persian Tent


For those whose concept of camping means food on a stick and a hard ground pillow, today’s luxurious outdoor excursions boasting banquets and hired help are a far cry. Yet the Cleveland Museum of Art is currently featuring a 19th century exhibit that gives contemporary glamping a run for its money.

Muhammad Shah’s Royal Persian Tent, running now through June 26, 2016, transports visitors of the Arlene M. and Arthur S. Holden Textile Gallery to the Iranian royal court. The gallery features an embroidered round tent made for Muhammad Shah, who ruled Iran from 1834-48 during the Qajar dynasty.

The dazzling piece was one of many tents owned by the Islamic court, where they were not only considered shelter but symbols of enormous wealth and power. Luxurious tents were pitched for imperial ceremonies, military campaigns, travel, and as gifts.

The tent exudes a royal air on display with its richly hued panels illuminated against a shadowy gallery. The tent’s seven (of the original fourteen) plain red cotton exterior panels and complete ceiling beckon visitors inside its semicircle. The interior is a sumptuous procession of birds and blossoms embroidered with silk thread on richly colored inlaid woolen cloth. Delightful visions of excess and entertainment fit for a king spring to mind as you examine the opulent space and admire the vivid textile artwork.

The exhibit marks the first time this tent will be on public view. Also on display are portraits of the owner, royal family, and courtly life conveying the time period and the dynasty’s great wealth.

“This is a prize acquisition that will surprise and delight our visitors” said Museum Director William M. Griswold in a press release. “Imperial tents are very rare, and our exhibition will allow for an immersive and dazzling experience.”

The Cleveland Museum of Art’s collections are FREE of charge to visit, including this exhibit.


The Cleveland Museum of Art
11150 East Blvd.
Cleveland, OH 44106


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