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Private Hall

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

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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Private hall leading to the entrance of the Mughal Suite. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.)

Private hall with Syrian architectural elements leading to the entrance of the Mughal Suite. Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo: David Franzen, 1999.)

Jali at entrance to the Mughal Suite. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.)

Waterfall in the private garden adjacent to the Mughal Suite. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.)

The private hall is located off the central courtyard and terminates in the Mughal Suite. It is comprised of two distinct spaces: an initial enclosed hallway with doors leading to various storage rooms, and a second arcaded lanai facing a private garden and ending with a mobile jali (perforated marble screen) leading into the suite.

To complement the Indian aesthetics of the Mughal Suite commissioned by Doris Duke (1912–93) and her husband James Cromwell in 1935, the arcade was originally comprised of Mughal-style cusped arches supported by baluster columns. In 1941, Duke purchased a number of Spanish Islamic works of art from the collection of William Randolph Hearst, including a group of six marble columns (41.62.1–6) made during the Nasrid period (1232–1492). Soon thereafter, these columns replaced the Indian-style ones, the arches above were transformed to look more Spanish, and the roof was covered in green roof tiles made in Morocco. The installation of a medieval Spanish door (64.41) and a c. 1921 Spanish tile panel (48.78) inscribed “Ave Maria Gracia Plena Dominus Tecum” completed the transformation from Indian to Spanish Mediterranean.

Standing within the arcade looking out, a beautiful small garden with a waterfall and koi pond is visible. The waterfall creates a soothing bubbling sound that can be heard from within the bathroom of the Mughal Suite. Looking back at the arcade from within the garden, one is reminded of the arcades found throughout medieval Spanish palaces, such as the Alhambra (mainly c. 1350–1400) in Granada.

The enclosed hallway as it appears today is predominately a product of the late 1970s. During this time, Doris Duke purchased a number of late-Ottoman (c. 1800) Syrian architectural elements from New York University’s Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies. While the majority of this painted and gilded wood, carved stonework, marble paneling, and inlaid pastework was installed in the Syrian Room to recreate an elite reception room known as a qa‘a (Arabic: hall), space constraints resulted in the dispersal of other elements throughout the property. The most cohesive installation is in the enclosed section of the private hall, where pastework and stonework arches (78.8), spandrels, and roundels frame a total of five doorways, and marble tiles comprise the floor (41.60). The three wood doors (64.40) on the left and right sides of the space are also likely Syrian. Their geometric surfaces of stars, pentagons, diamonds and rectangles inlaid with bone—and often framed by calligraphy (beautiful writing) above and below—are typical of late-Ottoman Syrian elite homes. 

Historical Images

Construction of the private garden, November 6, 1937. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Construction of the private garden, May 18, 1938. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Original arcade of the private hall, featuring Mughal-inspired baluster columns and cusped arches, 1938–1939. Doris Duke Photograph Collection, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Historical Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. A Spanish-style arcade with Nasrid columns (41.62.1–6) later replaced the Indian-style arcade, c. 1942–1954. Doris Duke Photograph Collection, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Historical Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
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Available on this website:

Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, “Late-Ottoman Syrian Interiors and Furnishings,” Collection Highlights, Shangri La: A Center for Islamic Arts and Cultures, November 2012.

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

Other resources:

Alhambra Palace,” Victoria and Albert Museum.

Damascus Room
Private Hall
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