Header Image

Foyer

The foyer is the first room that visitors enter in the main house, and it provides an introduction to Doris Duke (1912–93) as a collector and patron, to the visual language of Islamic art, and to the experience of Islamic art that Shangri La offers.

Syrian Room

The Syrian Room is one of Shangri La’s most cohesive spaces: a period room created for posterity, echoing those found in a number of other museums.

Damascus Room

The Damascus Room is a highlight of the Islamic art collection assembled by Doris Duke (1912–93) and is one of two Syrian interiors preserved at Shangri La.

Entry Courtyard

Visitors to Shangri La descend a long driveway shielded by dense foliage and first encounter the main house from within an open-air space known variously as the entry or banyan courtyard.

Foyer

The foyer is the first room that visitors enter in the main house, and it provides an introduction to Doris Duke (1912–93) as a collector and patron, to the visual language of Islamic art, and to the experience of Islamic art that Shangri La offers.

Central Courtyard

The main house at Shangri La revolves around a central courtyard, an architectural feature central to a number of buildings in the Islamic world.

Living Room

The living room preserves a number of important works of art from North Africa and Spain.

Mihrab Room

The Mihrab Room preserves a number of masterpieces in the DDFIA collection, particularly architectural tilework produced during the Ilkhanid period (1226–1353).

Dining Room

The dining room is Doris Duke’s (1912–93) interpretation of an Islamic-style tent.

Playhouse

Located on the west end of the property and adjacent to the ocean, the Playhouse at Shangri La is a poolside pavilion inspired by the Chehel Sutun (c. 1647–50) palace in Isfahan, the capital of Iran from 1598 to 1722. 

Mughal Garden

The Mughal Garden is Shangri La’s microcosm of the royal gardens found throughout the Indian subcontinent. 

Private Hall

The private hall is located off the central courtyard and terminates in the Mughal Suite.

Mughal Suite

The Mughal Suite is located at the end of a private hall extending from the central courtyard.

Image 2 of 8

Foyer. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.)

Stairway at the foyer. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.)

Landing on the stairway connecting the central courtyard and the foyer. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.)

Landing on the stairway connecting the central courtyard and the foyer. Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo: David Franzen, 2010.)

A pierced metal lamp hanging from the Moroccan ceiling in the foyer. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.)

View of the foyer's custom-made Moroccan ceiling and balustrade, as well as early seventeenth-century Iznik tilework. Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo: David Franzen, 2010.)

The foyer is the first room that visitors enter in the main house, and it provides an introduction to Doris Duke (1912–93) as a collector and patron, to the visual language of Islamic art, and to the experience of Islamic art that Shangri La offers.

The general appearance of the foyer is indebted to the Rabat-based firm S.A.L.A.M. René Martin. In July 1937 in Antibes, Doris Duke and her husband James Cromwell signed a contract with the firm’s eponymous founder René Martin to oversee the creation of large-scale architectural features in plaster, wood and ceramic for several rooms at Shangri La. For the foyer, the firm proposed an expansive painted ceiling, a clerestory of colored-glass windows (chemmassiat), a balustrade composed of turned and carved elements (mashrabiyya), a large geometric screen shielding the courtyard, a pair of doors, and a stucco arch over the main entrance (see thumbnails below). All of these custom-made elements drew upon forms and techniques standard to traditional Moroccan architecture, and the work was carried out by Moroccan craftsmen.

The collections on view in the foyer exemplify the temporal and geographical breadth of the Islamic world, as well as the varied materials and techniques of Islamic art. In addition, they demonstrate Duke’s interest in acquiring works of art that would serve practical needs throughout her home. Over 600 tiles from Iznik, Turkey, cover the walls; nineteenth-century copper alloy basins from Iran once held large Hawaiian plants; custom-made Moroccan elements in wood, glass and plaster provide coverage, lighting and support; nineteenth-century Egyptian or Syrian pierced metal lamps illuminate; and nineteenth-century inlaid wood Syrian chests support other items. The majority of these objects were acquired between 1935 and 1941 from dealers, at auction, during travels in India and the Middle East, and through the patronage of living craftsmen.

In the foyer, visitors are exposed to the visual vocabulary of Islamic art. Beautiful writing, or calligraphy, covers a number of objects and bears different meanings. Despite being made in the nineteenth century, the four hanging lamps (54.6.1–4) include the standard titulature of the Mamluk sultan of Egypt al-Nasir Muhammad (r. 1293–43); the front door (64.1b) features Qur’anic verses welcoming one into paradise; and a pair of large basins (54.2.1–2) are covered in inscriptions documenting their donation as a charitable gift (waqf) to a mosque in a shrine complex in Tabriz, Iran. Additionally, floral and vegetal patterns are visible in the Iznik tilework (48.1a), and bold geometric patterns cover the expansive wood ceiling (64.3).

Historical Images

Drawing of a scheme for Shangri La’s foyer by P. Vary of S.A.L.A.M. René Martin, Rabat, Morocco, May 1937. P. Vary, S.A.L.A.M. René Martin. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Moroccan maalem (master) standing behind portions of the mashrabiyya balustrade for the foyer and the oceanside screen for the Moroccan Room, ca. 1937–38. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. The foyer ceiling, Morocco, 1937. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Foyer, November 3, 1937. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Foyer, 1947. A standard 'alam (54.149.1) leans against the far wall, and plants grow from Qajar Iranian metal basins. Maynard L. Parker, photographer. Courtesy of the Huntington Library, San Marino, California. Foyer, 1947. Maynard L. Parker, photographer. Courtesy of the Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
Learn MoreClick to Expand

Available on this website:

Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, “Commissions and Recreations, 1935–1938: Morocco, 1937,” Collection Highlights, Shangri La: A Center for Islamic Arts and Cultures, November 2012, www.shangrilahawaii.org.

Other resources:

The Mamluks,” The David Collection.

Damascus Room
Private Hall
About Shangri La Visit Islamic Art Collection Programs Residencies Internship Opportunities Stewardship Research Blog Contact Us