Animal fables in Islamic art

Discover the fascinating creatures from classic tales of the Islamic world

Animal fables in Islamic art
Animal fables in Islamic art Image #2

Some of the Islamic world’s most universal and classic tales – and the real and mythical creatures that inhabit them – are brought to life in this display of manuscripts, textiles, ceramics, jewellery, glass and metal work that dates back as far back as the 10th century. Classics like ‘Kalila wa Dimna’, ‘Shahnameh’ and ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ will form parts of the exhibition, which is divided into four sections: fire, air, earth and water.

‘Marvellous Creatures’ tells these timeless stories through vibrant illustrations and displays, animation and audio storytelling. It draws out the universal appeal of these tales – and their messages and lessons – carrying their relevance across generations, communities and cultures, and showing the diversity of Islamic art.
Free entry. March 4-July 11, Sun, Mon, Wed 10.30am-5.30pm; Thu, Sat midday-8pm, Fri 2pm-8pm. Museum of Islamic Art, Corniche, Doha, (4422 4444).

Family activities and events

A series of fun and interactive events will be running throughout the exhibition, including a talk by exhibition curator Dr. Leslee Michelsen on images of elephants in medieval Iranian and Central Asian art. There will also be a seminar exploring the artistic development and historical significance of the epic poem ‘Shahnameh’, which recounts the tales of ancient Persia’s rulers and heroes. Puppet shows, workshops and storytelling evenings will also be running as well as a late night family tour and a programme of art workshops for all ages.
Check with the website for latest dates and times,

Art Workshops

Each session in the series of workshops is themed on and inspired by a character, creature or story from the exhibition. Children aged three to five can create clay fish at the Three Little Fish workshops.

Ages five to seven can build shadow puppets from the ‘Shahnameh’ poem at My Happy Monster, make mixed media bowls inspired by winged characters at Up, Up and Away! or produce beautiful elephants using techniques of Indian decorative art at Marvellous Creatures: The Royal Parade.

Workshops for older children include a print making session for ages eight to 11, and a silk painting workshop for ages 12 to 14, while ages 18 and above can sign up to master the art of watercolour painting.

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