13 January – 26 March 201, Brunei Gallery Exhibition Rooms
Bridge of Knowledge will offer a rare glimpse of powerfully evocative books from the holdings of the most prestigious and specialised of private libraries on the East-West Interface: Travel, Science, Art, and Literature, from the age of printing; plus manuscript highlights from the last millennium. An exhibition which respects and celebrates the centuries-old relationship between the West and the Arab and Islamic world as it survives in magnificent books, engravings, manuscripts and documents, and will be the 100th exhibition to be presented by the Brunei Gallery, SOAS.
On display will be books from the dawn of printing such as an illuminated edition of the medical compendium, the Canon, of one of Islam’s greatest medical experts, Ibn Sina, known in the west as Avicenna. Early printed editions of other scientific texts – medical, astronomical, alchemical – testify to the profound impact of Islam’s greatest scientific minds on western learning from medieval times to the European Renaissance and beyond.
Travellers journeying east in serious pursuit of profit or knowledge, as pilgrims, diplomats, merchants, soldiers or natural historians, and sometimes just for pleasure, describe their adventures for western readerships hungry to learn about neighbouring worlds that have meant so much to them through their spiritual and material impact. Artists too, many amateur and some professional, capture these other worlds for those fortunate to own their magnificent publications.