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Presenter : Holly Morris

Treasures of the Islamic World

St Pancreas International

Beautiful Tilework in Istanbul’s Historic quarter

Kate Comer at St Paul's Cathedral

Bridesmaids in beautiful hand-dyed outfits, Nigeria

In this programme, we travel across the Islamic World to appreciate some of its more unusual and fascinating treasures. In Aleppo, Syria, said to be the oldest city in the world, Holly Morris finds out how its renowned ‘Aleppo soap’ is manufactured.  Made from olive oil and bay laurel, the soap has been created in the same way for centuries, and is as keenly desired by customers today as it always has been. A few hundred miles south, in the Jordanian desertBobby Chinn explores an 8th century pleasure-palace, Quseir Amra, famous for the unique and beautiful figurative frescoes that adorn the walls and ceilings of its reception hall and hammam. Not far from IstanbulAdela Ucar visits the sleepy town of Iznik, which at the height of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th and 16th centuries was crowded with hundreds of kilns making some of history’s most exquisite ceramics.

Ben Evans John Pawson Nadja Swarovski Design Week at St Pauls

Beautiful printed cloths in Nigeria.

Today Iznik tiles are still made in the traditional way, and Adela sees the process that once created the decorations which today adorn hundreds of Istanbul’s most beautiful mosques and palaces. Heading on to Islamic Africa, Adela checks out northern Nigeria’s largest city, Kano, at the southern end of the once flourishing trans-Saharan trade route; here she visits the city’s famous indigo dye-pits, where clothes are still being dyed indigo blue in the same traditional way that they have been for 500 years. Finally, Holly Morris travels to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, nicknamed the ‘rickshaw capital of the world’ where there are some half a million cycle rickshaws in the city, decorated in a spectacularly colourful artistic style. Holly marvels at the always creative and magnificently gaudy artwork!

Soap Factory Aleppo

Visiting the Aleppo Soap Factory in Syria

From modern Bangladeshi rickshaw art to ancient Syrian soap factories, from remote Jordanian pleasure-palaces to exotic Nigerian indigo dye-pits and exquisite Ottoman-era Turkish ceramics, the Islamic world has bequeathed over the centuries a truly fabulous legacy of artistic treasures and objects of desire that will be celebrated for centuries to come.

Places Mentioned - Bangladesh, Jordan, Nigeria, Syria, Turkey

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