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Kuwait: Tareq Rajab Museum

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Tareq Rajab Museum | Kuwait | Asia

[Visited: May 2013]

When I read about the Tareq Rajab museum, it suggested that one hour would be sufficient to see its ethnographic collection. I wanted to see it before the 4-hour afternoon break, and the taxi driver swiftly delivered me to its doorstep. Several guys were sitting in a small room, watching TV; an Indian guy with an Argentina T-shirt opened the main door, a wooden door from his home country. Inside, I found myself above a staircase. To my right, a precious, old, wooden door was attached to the wall, and I examined the many different objects on display. Walking under a pointed arch, I reached the basement, where the real collection is located. The entire museum was saved from Iraqi destruction when this door was quickly hidden by a brick wall, and the stairs were covered in rubbish. The door was opened months after the liberation of Kuwait, and is the entrance to a superb museum.

Picture of Tareq Rajab Museum (Kuwait): The museum is located in the basement; these are the stairs from the main entrance

Large part of the museum is dedicated to traditional dresses and jewellery. I knew this before coming, but I was still surprised when I actually saw the museum. I had expected objects from the region, but I soon found myself looking at items from Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, from Tibet, Bhutan, India, Ethiopia, and other parts of the world, as well as Yemen, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, the Gulf States and yes, also Kuwait itself. Many had clear English explanations. Often, the objects and accompanying pictures and text reminded me of journeys in those regions. I was constantly searching for images of those places, reliving some of the highlights of my trips there. I found a display with necklaces from Tibet and the Middle East, claiming that there had been strong ties between the two regions since many centuries - and indeed, the jewellery looked very similar. Precious stones, small items, hats, dresses - every showcase took me a while to study. I was completely alone in the museum, and did not have to take anyone into account.

Picture of Tareq Rajab Museum (Kuwait): Gold and precious stones in one of the fine neckpieces in the museum

Then, I came to a wall in which musical instruments were on display, from Kashmir, Afghanistan, Tibet, and many Middle East countries. Marvellous! I came to a section with dresses, saw yet more collars, headdresses, neckpieces, wristbands, and much more. One of the guys of the museum came to me, to tell me that they would close in half an hour time, and I still had so much more to see. I tried to go a little faster, and when I turned a corner with daggers, found another section, in which I found rare, old calligraphy, glass vases, pottery, objects made from metal. I could have easily spent an hour just in this section; Islamic manuscripts, and painted glass work from many corners of the Islamic world, as well as precious, rare incense burners and many other items were all just as interesting as the jewellery and dresses seciton I had spent so much time. I regretted not having come right at opening time: what an extensive, rich collection of a wide array of items from an enormous area in the world!

Picture of Tareq Rajab Museum (Kuwait): Original musical instruments from Kashgar and Tibet suspended in the air
Picture of Tareq Rajab Museum (Kuwait): Turkoman jewellery in display
Picture of Tareq Rajab Museum (Kuwait): Precious, old door on display in the museum
Picture of Tareq Rajab Museum (Kuwait): Orthodox cross from Ethiopia
Picture of Tareq Rajab Museum (Kuwait): One of the many displays of jewellery at the museum
Picture of Tareq Rajab Museum (Kuwait): Collar with precious stones and cloves - for its smell, and because it was considered an aphrodisiac
Picture of Tareq Rajab Museum (Kuwait): One of the many collars at the museum
Picture of Tareq Rajab Museum (Kuwait): Dress in a case at the Tareq Rajab museum
Picture of Tareq Rajab Museum (Kuwait): Turkoman dress with reflection of silverware showcase
Picture of Tareq Rajab Museum (Kuwait): Hat suspended in a showcase with Ethiopian artefacts
Picture of Tareq Rajab Museum (Kuwait): Detail of one of the many showcases with jewellery and a headdress
Picture of Tareq Rajab Museum (Kuwait): An entire wall has many traditional musical instruments on display
Picture of Tareq Rajab Museum (Kuwait): Statues with musical instruments

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