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Living Room

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

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.

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Living room. Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo: David Franzen, 2011.)

Living room. Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo: David Franzen, 2011.)

Shelves at the east end of the living room displaying Persian and Syrian (48.147) ceramic vessels and storage jars dating from the eighth to seventeenth centuries. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.)

The Moroccan wood doors separating the living room the Mihrab Room were commissioned in 1937. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.)

Vitrine in the living room. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.)

The living room at dusk. The room's west wall is a glass panel that descends fully into the ground. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.)

The living room preserves a number of important works of art from North Africa and Spain, the latter of which was known as al-Andalus in Arabic and ruled by independent Islamic dynasties for over seven centuries (756-1492) from southern cities such as Cordoba and Granada. The room is dominated by large-scale architectural features custom-made in Morocco in 1937, including a painted and coffered ceiling; a stylized stucco pseudo-inscription frieze running below; and, on the room’s east end, a stucco spandrel flanked by tall painted wood doors (see thumbnails below). The doors surround a large arch that leads into the Mihrab Room and frames the collection’s masterpiece, the Veramin luster mihrab (48.327) dated 663 of the Hijra (1265 of the Common Era). In Moroccan buildings, similar configurations (arch–spandrel–soaring doors) characterize the entrances of rooms located off central courtyards.

The north and south (oceanside) walls of the living room display Doris Duke’s (1912–93) collection of Spanish luster ceramics and tilework, virtually all of which was acquired at the sales of William Randolph Hearst’s private collection in 1941. The dado (lower portion) of the north wall is decorated with over 200 molded luster tiles (48.168) dating to c. 1525–50, of the type that adorn ceilings in churches in Sevilla and Carmona (see similar tiles in the V&A collection). On the wall above the dado, as well as on the south wall, are Spanish luster dishes and basins made in Manises, a suburb of Valencia on the eastern coast. Most date to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries—just before, during, and after the Islamic kingdom of Granada (Nasrid dynasty: 1232–1492) was conquered by the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile in 1492. Many of these vessels bear the coats of arms of Christian—particularly Italian—families, exemplifying Spain’s rich history of cross-cultural exchange. They further demonstrate the taste for luster throughout the Islamic world and provide a western complement to the eastern Islamic tilework preserved in the adjacent Mihrab Room.

In addition to these exemplary works of western Islamic art, the living room features modernist design and technical innovations. The room’s upholsteries and curtains (87.18.1–6) are the work of the mid-century American textile artist Dorothy Liebes (d. 1972). On the Diamond Head–side of the room is a glass wall that descends completely into the floor, granting visitors an unobstructed view of the main axis of the house stretching from the Mihrab Room on the east to the Playhouse on the west. The pierced wood screens and glass doors on the south (oceanside) wall can be pulled aside to provide yet another direct view of the ocean beyond. The living room—like the central courtyard —is therefore also characterized by the fluid interplay of interior and exterior spaces.

Historical Images

A rendering of Shangri La’s living room, c. 1936, shows Islamic-inspired designs in the geometric ceiling and door spandrels, as well as a mural depicting the maidan (square) in Isfahan, Iran, on the far right.  Wyeth & King, Architects. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Drawing dated January 15, 1937, of a “Pan-Asian” scheme for the living room at Shangri La, which juxtaposed East Asian furnishings and a Chinese sculpture with a mural of the maidan (square) in Isfahan, Iran. H. Drewry Baker, Wyeth & King, Architects. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Drawing of a scheme for Shangri La’s living room by P. Vary of S.A.L.A.M. René Martin, May 1937. Vary appears to have been the lead designer assigned to the “Cromwell villa.” P. Vary, S.A.L.A.M. René Martin. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Moroccan stucco specialists preparing models for Shangri La’s living room, c. 1937–38. The epigraphic panel on the right was ultimately selected and is today installed below the commissioned ceiling. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Moroccan craftsmen making the living room’s carved and painted ceiling, c. 1937–38. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Construction of the living room, July 31 1937. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. The fireplace on the north wall of the living room surrounded by a Moroccan epigraphic wood frieze, 1938. Doris Duke Photograph Collection, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Historical Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. In late 1940–early 1941, 200 Spanish luster tiles were installed over the fireplace surround. Doris Duke Photograph Collection, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Historical Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. The Veramin mihrab (48.327) was installed in 1941. Doris Duke Photograph Collection, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Historical Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. View of the living room, looking east. The painted cedar doors and the carved stucco spandrel, both part of the 1937 Morocco commission, frame the Veramin mihrab. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.)
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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.

Marcus Milwright, “DDFIA 54.136.1–2 (A Pair of Mamluk Revival stands [kursis]),” Scholar Favorites, Shangri La: A Center for Islamic Arts and Cultures, May 2012.

Other resources:

Patricia, Countess Jellicoe, “The Art of Islamic Spain,” Saudi Aramco World (September–October 1992): 24–31.

Manises Lusterware, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Damascus Room
Private Hall
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