Preserving Kuwaiti Craftsmanship at Tareq Rajab Museum

Discover Kuwait's Cultural Treasures at Tareq Rajab Museum

The Tareq Rajab Museum was established in 1980 by Tareq S. Rajab and Jehan S. Rajab, and it currently includes a collection of over 30,000 objects amassed over the previous sixty years, of which over 10,000 are on permanent exhibit. Although its contents are housed in a single building, the museum is really split between two buildings.

Originally opened in 1980, the “Tareq Rajab Museum” houses a wide variety of artifacts, including Islamic manuscripts, ceramics, glass, metalwork (including the Bronze Door of Sultan Barquq), Islamic arms and armor, a sizable collection of silver folk jewelry, textiles, embroideries, costumes, musical instruments, and orientalist artwork.

The Tareq Rajab Museum in Kuwait is home to a vast collection of artifacts amassed over the course of fifty years, beginning in the 1950s. The museum is really spread across two different buildings in Jabriya, Kuwait.

Tareq Rajab Museum
Tareq Rajab Museum

Both the original Tareq Rajab Museum (established in 1980) and its 2007 spin-off, the Tareq Rajab Museum of Islamic Calligraphy, are worth seeing. Manuscripts and miniatures, pottery, metalwork, glass, weapons and armor, textiles, costumes, and jewelry are all on display in the Tareq Rajab Museum.

From pre-Islamic periods until the early 20th century and from all throughout the Islamic world, the museum’s ceramics collection is vast and exhaustive. The museum is home to some of the world’s finest collections of silver and gold jewelry, some of which go back to before Islam.

The earliest of the Qurans and other manuscripts in the collection date to the seventh century AD and come from all around the Islamic world. The variety of works is wide and reflective of numerous styles and places, ranging from an Uljaytu volume of the Quran to a rare manuscript of Al-Kindi’s book on optics.

Tareq Rajab Museum of Islamic Calligraphy

This museum is located in a villa not far from the Tareq Rajab Museum to the south. The variety and quality of its calligraphy are very remarkable. The collection of Quranic scripts spans two stories and includes examples from antiquity all the way up to the present day. The strategies for writing are broken out in an informative video.

Tareq Rajab Museum of Islamic Calligraphy
Tareq Rajab Museum of Islamic Calligraphy

Other than Islamic coins and a calligraphy panel that measures 10 meters in length and dates back to 1044, the collection also includes an engraved marble tombstone column from 1044, a number of wall tapestries, and a wide range of calligraphy-related instruments, such as pens, quills, knives, and etched ink pots.

Tareq Sayed Rajab, a Kuwaiti with an interest in art, history, archaeology, and, of course, calligraphy, collected the collection on display here.

The museum housing Rajad’s collection had its opening in 1980, but the invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi soldiers in August 1990 proved devastating. Because they were afraid of being destroyed, the museum personnel carefully boxed up their entire collection and stashed it away in a secret location.

The museum reopened in 1991 despite the fact that not all of its artifacts had been saved. About ten years later, Rajad established a museum devoted exclusively to Islamic calligraphy.

View of Tareq Rajab Museum
View of Tareq Rajab Museum

Manuscripts, miniatures, ceramics, metalwork, and sculptures take up one-half of the Tareq Rajab Museum of Islamic Calligraphy, while apparel, jewelry, musical instruments, and other things make up the other half. It’s tough to separate out certain pieces due to the sheer volume of the collection.

A folio written in the uncommon Hijazi script of the 7th century and manuscripts by the well-known 12th-century scribe Yaqut al-Musta’simi is among the most valuable items on show.

However, the museum’s collection isn’t limited to items having historical significance. The goal of Islamic calligraphy is to create a unified composition that effectively conveys ideas such as emotion, history, and taste.

These motifs recur throughout the collection, rendered in a variety of mediums, informed by a wide range of cultural traditions, and finally infused with the artist’s own refined aesthetic sense and technical expertise.

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