Expert to speak on ‘Doha Ivory Box’
As part of the fifth season of lectures on the arts and architecture of the Islamic World, Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar is presenting a lecture by Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) director Dr Oliver Watson on ‘The Doha Ivory Box: Fabulous or Fake?’ today at 8pm.
Dr Watson, who holds a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where he specialised in Persian lustre tiles of the 13th and 14th centuries, will speak about an inscribed pen box of intricately-carved ivory, which is part of the collection of the MIA.
The box, dated 394H/1003 AD, can be related to a splendid known group of carved ivories from Islamic Spain. However, it comprises a number of strange features, including bad spelling mistakes in its inscription and, therefore, doubt was thrown on its authenticity by several scholars and specialists.
Dr Watson’s research has now resolved the urgent question – is it a fabulous and important medieval object or is it a sophisticated fake?
He graduated with a BA in Classic Arabic and Islamic Studies from Durham University. In 1972-3 he was a Fellow of the British Institute of Persian Studies in Tehran and from 1975-77 acted as a curator for the groundbreaking Arts of Islam exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London.
Dr Watson was appointed assistant keeper for Islamic Art in the Department of Ceramics at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London in 1979 and became Head of the Ceramics Department in 1989.
In 2001 he became chief curator of the Middle Eastern Collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum. After two years working on secondment for the MIA in Doha, he left in 2005 to take up the post of Keeper of Eastern Art at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. In June 2008 Dr Watson was appointed as MIA’s director.
He has published extensively on Islamic art, particularly ceramics. He is the author of two major publications on this subject: Persian Lustre Ware (London, 1985) and Ceramics from Islamic Lands (London, 2005). The lecture is open to the public.
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