Louvre Abu Dhabi: Letters of Light
08.01.2024
   Reading 2 min
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Letters of Light, an exhibition organised by Louvre Abu Dhabi, explores the history of the Abrahamic faiths (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism) and allows visitors to admire the most important manuscripts of sacred texts: the Quran, Bible, and Torah. Open to the public until the 14th of January, 2024, the show examines the historical context in which these holy books were created and how one has passed them down over the years. 

Capuchin Bible in Latin, France, late 12th century. Photo: Khushnum Bhandari / The National.

The exhibition features 240+ art pieces from all over the world: manuscripts, photos, graphic arts, 3D objects, textiles, archaeological items, and paintings. Many of them demonstrate the influence of the three religions on each other. The exhibits are borrowed from the esteemed collections of such museums and institutions as the Louvre Abu Dhabi itself, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Musée du Louvre, Umm Al Quwain Department of Tourism and Archaeology, Beit Al Quran (Bahrain), National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah, to mention a few. 

Torah Scroll. Syria, 16th century, Hide.

Among the most notable artefacts on view is the Blue Quran folio (Kairouan, Tunisia, the 9th-10th century), which consists of seven volumes. The dark blue page is a symbol of the universe, while the golden letters symbolise the light spread by the word of the Almighty. Visitors can also have a look at the Nano Bible (the smallest one in the world) brought by astronaut Eytan Stibbe to the International Space Station in 2022. Besides, on display are the Dead Sea Scrolls, the manuscripts of the Old Testament written in Hebrew and Aramaic. Dating back to the 1st century, they were found in the Qumran Caves in 1946. Another remarkable exhibit is a copy of the Gutenberg Bible (c. 1455–56), the earliest book printed using mass-produced movable type.

Page from the Blue Quran. Surah 2, Al-Baqara (The Heifer). North Africa, c. 900. Gold, opaque pigments and silver on blue-dyed parchment.
Courtesy of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi. Photo APF.

The show is divided into seven main parts: Prologue, Sections 1–5, and Epilogue. In the Prologue section, one learns more about Abraham (the Hebrew patriarch who links all three monotheistic faiths). A video featured in this section highlights crucial moments from his life. Sections 1–5 tell about how each religion has developed and delve into the histories and practices of the faiths. The last section, Epilogue, presents The Unseen, a commissioned installation by Muhannad Shono, a multi-disciplinary Saudi artist. In this thread- and light-based artwork, Shono metaphorically connects the three religions and pays tribute to the majesty of the Abrahamic God.

To get more information about Letters of Light, please visit the show’s official web page.

You might also be interested in attending the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization.

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