An exhibition that will transport you into the fascinating world of pearls
SEP 27 JAN 8
China National Museum, Beijing, China

Pearls are a worldwide phenomenon going back millennia. Fascination for these jewels of the seas and rivers transcends time and borders. Natural pearls have always been objects of desire due to their rarity and lustrous beauty. Myths and legends have always surrounded them, chiefly to explain the mystery of their formation.

Historically, the most beautiful natural pearls came from the Arabian Gulf. They were the main source of income in Qatar until oil and gas were discovered in in the early 1970s. Their large, lustrous and perfectly formed shapes were eagerly sought after by pearl merchants, first in India and later in Europe. In the Islamic world pearl-diving—a hazardous activity that involved metallic diving helmets, stone weights and a great deal of trust between a diver and his mate in the boat above—was seen as a test from God, the pearl a reward for the true believer. “Pearls, Treasures from the Seas and the Rivers” is an exhibition that will transport you into the fascinating world of pearls; learn about their formation, their cultural significance in the Gulf, the production of exquisite artistic jewellery throughout the ages; and the origin of the cultured pearl.

But the heart of the show is a series of historic cabinets made at the end of the 19th century for the East India Company. In them we see a marriage of intricate art, craftsmanship and nature’s precious gift from the seas and rivers of the world.

Qatar Museums’ flagship travelling exhibition, Pearls, will be unveiled this September in Beijing at the China National Museum as part of the Qatar China 2016 Year of Culture.