Louvre Abu Dhabi's next show to explore knightly traditions from East and West

The exhibition includes a public programme with performances by Wael Shawky and Le Trio Joubran

Bascinet with visor, known as Klappvisier from France, c. 1390–1430. Jean-Gilles Berizzi / Courtesy RMN-Grand Palais (musee de Cluny - musee national du Moyen-Age)  
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The ways and weapons of knights from Islamic and Christian worlds will be explored side by side in Louvre Abu Dhabi’s upcoming exhibition, Furusiyya: The Art of Chivalry between East and West.

The show, which opens on Wednesday, February 19, is a comparative study of the two cultures and will include 130 artefacts from across the Middle East, specifically Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Syria, and the French and Germanic states in Europe. Objects on view include medieval armours, riding and battle equipment, and manuscripts portraying chivalric scenes from the 11th to the 16th centuries.

Helmet from Iraq, Turkey or Caucasus, c. 1450–1500. Thierry Ollivier / Courtesy Department of Culture and Tourism
Helmet from Iraq, Turkey or Caucasus, c. 1450–1500. Thierry Ollivier / Courtesy Department of Culture and Tourism

In the Islamic world, the tradition of Furusiyya encompassed equestrianism, swordsmanship, archery and the use of the lance. Throughout Europe’s Middle Ages, the code of chivalry centered on ideals of courage, faith, honour and courtly traditions.

"Our home city has always been a gateway between East and West and is a natural stage for this exploration of a key moment in Arab history and its cross-cultural exchanges with the Western World. The many international partners for the show – be it lenders or scientific experts – highlight the importance of this subject within the academic community," said Manuel Rabate, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, in a statement.

The exhibition is held in partnership with Musee de Cluny, Musee national du Moyen Age in Paris, and Agence France-Muséums.

Curated by Elisabeth Taburet-Delahaye, Carine Juvin, and Michel Huynh, it is organised into three sections. The first examines the developments of these traditions in both East and West, and how they come to overlap. Visitors will discover the links between knights and horsemanship through artefacts such as Fight between Emperor Valerian and King Shapur, which depicts the Battle of Edessa and illustrates an encounter between Eastern and Western warriors.

In the next section, armament and battle equipment worn by both knights and horses are on view. Manuscripts on battle and war detail how strategies of war were considered by the Ottoman, Egyptians and Europeans.

The final section delves further into the similarities in knightly traditions in the Islamic and Christian worlds, from practices such as falconry and jousting to the study of horses and chess.

Alongside the exhibition is a public programme developed by renowned artistic director Ruth MacKenzie. A performance developed by of contemporary artist Wael Shawky offers an Arab take on the Crusades. Based on a French poem detailing the conquests of Emperor Charlemagne and his nephew Roland, the work will feature fidjeri singers and musicians from Sharjah and Bahrain, who will sing in the style of Gulf pearl divers. It will take place on February 26 and 27.

A family weekend from February 28 to 29 will host activations, film screenings, workshops and knight parades. Oud musicians Le Trio Joubran from Palestine, who are known for the innovative and signature sound, will perform The Long March at the museum's auditorium on March 26.

More details on timings and tickets can be found on louvreabudhabi.ae