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By Jordan Speed
CCC Journalism Program

BLACKWOOD – An expert in ancient studies discussed the presence of decorative textiles within the visual couture of the Islamic world on April 22 in Camden County College’s Civic Hall. The hour-long discussion was titled Luxurious Layers: An Exploration of Islamic Textiles.

Penn’s Rose Muravchick stands after her talk. By Jordan Speed, CCC Journalism Program

Penn’s Rose Muravchick stands after her talk. By Jordan Speed, CCC Journalism Program

Luxurious Layers focused on the presence of decorative textiles within the visual culture of the Islamic world. The discussion was given by Ph.D. candidate in religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania and graduate assistant for Penn’s Center for Ancient Studies Rose Muravchick. About a dozen people attended.

Muravchick closed with a 13-minute question-and-answer session that addressed inquiries such as the depictions of Muhammad, the production of textiles and the paintings of ancient Islam.

Muravchick felt satisfied after leaving the podium. “It’s hard to teach or to give a lecture that’s really broad but still have stories in it. I just wanted to tell some stories as I went, but I feel like at least people got a sense of the whole broad swath of Islamic textiles without doing like a huge boring survey,” Muravchick said.

Audience members were also satisfied, with many congregating inside Civic Hall to discuss what they had just heard.

Muravchick hoped audience members learned some lessons. “All of these objects were doing something. They were making a political connection between two people, they are protecting you from something on the field of battle … they were always doing something , and that was the main thing I wanted everybody to get,” Muravchick said.

Despite feeling satisfied, Muravchick wished she had time to add something to the Luxurious Layers presentation. “I wanted to talk about the materials, talk about cotton production, silk production, the making of all the threads,” Muravchick said.

If she could present another talk, Muravchick would like to discuss the influence of Mongols on Islamic art. “People always talk about Mongols and have this kind of cartoon idea in their head, crazy guys coming down from the steppes and burning things down, but the stories of the Mongols are actually more interesting,” Muravchick said.

Luxurious Layers: An Exploration of Islamic Textiles is one-fifth of a free lecture series about the arts and Islamic culture provided by Camden County College’s Center for Civic Leadership and Responsibility in partnership with the Penn Museum’s International Classroom Program, the Penn Middle East Center and the American Research Institute in Turkey.

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