A new edition of the critically acclaimed exhibition organised by Qatar Museums (QM), ‘Pearls: Treasures from the Seas and the Rivers’, opened in Moscow as part of Qatar Russia 2018 Year of Culture.

The opening was attended by QM CEO and Special Advisor to the QM Chairperson Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al Mahmoud, HE Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the Russian Federation, Fahad bin Mohammed Al Attiyah, along with a number of VIP.

The exhibition displays 50 pieces of jewellery and other examples of pearl craftsmanship made from freshwater pearls from Central Asia. It includes 20 new, never-before-shown artefacts specially selected for the exhibition in Russia. The QM exhibition is hosted by the World Diamond Museum at the Exhibition Centre of the State Historical Museum in Moscow from 11 July until 1 October.

Rare Pieces of Pearl Jewellery

The exhibition features some of the most beautiful pieces of pearl jewellery and rare natural pearls from the collection of Qatar Museum. The exhibition begins with an insight into the natural history of pearls and their formation, shedding light on many unknown facts that will amaze visitors and dispel common myths.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to learn about the different kind of pearls created by shell fish from around the world, with a unique display of natural pearls, including rarities such as pearls from American rivers.

The exhibit also tells the story of pearl fishing in Qatar. It draws a parallel between the history of pearl industry in Russia and in Qatar, and shows jewellery and handcrafted masterpieces of different countries and epochs: from an intricately cut figurine of the 17thcentury to a modern composition called ‘Frozen’ by Vietnamese master, Sam Tho Duong.


Among other masterpieces on show are jewellery pieces by Cartier, pearl earrings by Bvlgari worn by Elizabeth Taylor, a broch designed by the sketch of Salvador Dali, a Tiara of Archduchess Marie Valerie of Austria and treasures from other European monarchies. The exhibition also shows pearl jewellery of various ethnicities and tribes, such as head decorations and earrings from Tibet and pearl artefacts from Russia and Central Asia.

Rediscovering Qatari Heritage

The exhibition, considered one of QM’s flagship initiatives, is the first travelling exhibition organised by the institution, and designed to introduce audiences to the history and transformative impact that the pearl industry had on Qatar and the world. The exhibition reflects Qatar’s great curiosity for its own past and for rediscovering its heritage, often from a culture of oral history.

It chronicles pearl fishing in Qatar, providing an insight into the ancient methods and techniques used by pearl divers and an overview of the pearl trade in the Gulf. Archaeological excavations have confirmed that, long before oil and gas, another natural resource supported the growth and development of the country: pearls collected from the Arabian Gulf. Starting around 5,000 years ago, exporting loose pearls became a major source of income for Qatar. This gave rise to the development of major trade routes, which built the foundations of the region’s rich heritage and identity that is still visible today.

Russia and Qatar both share strong historical ties to pearls. In Russia, pearl usage in jewellery and textiles was omnipresent, stretching back to Byzantine traditions. Pearls used in Russia were not cultivated from sea oysters, however, but from mussels living in almost all rivers and lakes across the empire. They were sewn onto beautiful textiles, kokoshniks, jewellery and adorned everyday objects like horse saddles.

This is the sixth time that the Pearls exhibition has travelled the world, with the last show taking place in China as part of Qatar China 2016 Year of Culture.

Exhibition curator Dr Hubert Bari said pearls have long inspired artists and painters with their quiet elegance and mystery.

This diverse exhibition will answer many of the questions surrounding these natural wonders, while taking visitors on a fascinating journey through the history of pearl diving and trade in Qatar. The exhibition is a major highlight of the Qatar Russia 2018 Year of Culture, which will see two great cultures explore unexpected historical parallels through the use of pearls in traditional design and jewellery making. We hope that this is something that will help bring our people and countries ever closer together.’

Qatar Russia Year of Culture

The Qatar Russia Year of Culture was officially launched in Doha in February 2018. The annual Year of Culture programme is made up of a wide variety of exhibitions and events in addition to literary and art workshops, film screenings, concerts, performances and trade shows, part of which will be held in 2019.

The Qatar Russia 2018 Year of Culture, sponsored by Qatar Airways, was planned in collaboration with leading institutions in Qatar and Russia, including the Embassy of Qatar in Moscow, the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Doha, the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, Qatar’s Ministry of Culture and Sport and the State Museum and Exhibition Centre.

The year is part of the landmark ‘Years of Culture’ initiative developed under the guidance of QM Chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani in 2012, to deepen understanding between nations and people through mutual exchanges of arts, culture and heritage. It also provides tangible opportunities to build sustainable links and cooperation between creative members of Qatari and Russian society and foster continuous collaboration.

For updates and more information about Qatar Museums, visit qm.org.qa.