Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization today opened an exhibition giving a rare glimpse into the lives of Muslims in China as documented by the world’s preeminent photographer of Muslim communities.
The exhibition Moments in the Lives of Muslims in China – Through the Lens of Peter Sanders is a comprehensive photo essay of 50 large-scale images that reflects the vibrant and diverse lives of Muslims at work, at school, at rest, and at worship in all corners of the country.
The images were captured over a period of 20 years by British photographer Peter Sanders, himself a Muslim. The exhibition is the first partnership between Sharjah Museums Department and Peter Sanders, who attended today’s opening to provide further insight into the story behind his photographs.
Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Department, said: “We are honored to be partnering with such a talented photographer in Peter Sanders and are delighted that he was able to personally introduce his collection.
“The exhibition introduces aspects of global Muslim culture little known in our region or even internationally through artistically outstanding and culturally sensitive photographic works. This is a unique chance for the UAE community to appreciate how Muslims of a distinctive culture lead their lives and practice their faith.”
Peter Sanders began his career in the 1960s as one of London’s leading rock and roll photographers. After trekking through India and Morocco in the 1970s, he found his true calling - to share images of the people, places and spirit of the Islamic world.
In Moments in the Lives of Muslims in China he has brought together the first ever comprehensive photographic essay on the Muslims of China.
Islam was introduced into the country nearly 1,400 years ago, and gradually became interwoven with the social and spiritual fabric of the vast country. The Islamic presence in China has resulted in striking regional subcultures unique in the Muslim world.
Examples include the Uyghurs, a small Turkic minority living in northwestern Xinjiang and south-central Hunan. The Hui people - ethnic Chinese who speak Mandarin and form the majority of China’s Muslims – are most concentrated in the northwest of the country, but can also be found in smaller communities throughout the country.
Over two decades, Peter Sanders crisscrossed the country, mingling with communities and photographing them going about their daily lives, as well as capturing images of the remarkable architecture of Chinese mosques. His work not only portrays the environment in which people live, but also the human aspect of their personalities and emotions.
Speaking at today’s launch, Peter Sanders said: “I’m very proud to be here to open my first exhibition in Sharjah. The exhibition is very special to me and seeing the images displayed here today brings back many fond memories of my time in China.
“During the many years I spent in all corners of the country, I was struck by the depth of the Muslim faith and the level of cultural integration. I’m very excited to be introducing the distinctive, yet largely unseen, lives of Muslims in China to a new audience.”
Moments in the Lives of Muslims in China runs from March 16 to June 11, 2017 at Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization.
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