Workshop 2

Day 2, July 16th, 2019

The Wonders of Creation manuscript, 16th c. edition was written by Murshid al-kātib al-Shīrāzī  is Housed at the Chester Beatty 
Description of the manuscript: The Wonders of Creation originally was written by Qazvini, a 13th C. Persian physicianastronomergeographer and proto-science fiction writer. Qazvini was born in Qazvin, a city in Iran, located in 150 km (93 mi) Northwest of Tehran (the capital of Iran).
The Wonders of Creation is an important work of cosmography. The manuscript includes the science that maps the general features of the universe, describing both the Heaven (Sky) and the Earth.
Qazvini's cosmography consists of two parts:
1.      The first part is celestial, dealing with the spheres of heaven with its inhabitants (the angels) that has 7 levels. 
2.      The second part discusses the terrestrial (the Earth): the four elements (wind, fire, air, wood/earth), the (Ptolemy’s) seven climes, seas and rivers, the living creatures, the plants, and the minerals.
In Qazvini's classification, there are seven types of living creatures: man, jinn, animals used for riding, animals that graze, beasts, birds and insects,  and creatures that look strange or are hybrids.

Workshop Title: 
The Vivid Foresight, Imaginary Scientific Characters, (Part I: Drawing)

Lesson Overview: Students explore three topics (Angels, Monsters, and Hybrid Animals) from medieval time in Iran through select pages of The Wonders of Creation. Students also learn about medieval Persian manuscripts' page layout and how each page was designed. The students final illuminated manuscript page includes science fiction characters (Angels or Monsters or Hybrid Animals) in frames separating them from texts, with science fiction texts, written inside frames, describing the characters.

Author: Pantea Karimi


Subjects: Visual Arts, Science Fiction

Main Resource: Chester Beatty Library Archives

Workshop Time: Morning: 10:30 to 1:00         Afternoon: 1:45 to 4:15

Age Groups:  Morning, 12-14    Afternoon: 15-17

Use of technology in the classroom:  Students are given the opportunity to explore science fiction characters, or other relevant topics on the internet using provided tablets.

·        An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented with such decoration as initials, borders and miniature illustrations.
·      Page layout is the part of graphic design that deals in the arrangement of visual elements (lines-shapes, colors, patterns, etc.) on a page. It generally involves organizational principles (unity, balance, rhythm, proportion, etc.) of composition to achieve specific communication objectives.

      Persian Manuscripts page-layout and Illumination:  Persian illuminated manuscripts include illustrating many narrative scenes, often with many figures. Great attention is paid to the backgrounds, figures or animals. Texts or figures often appear in separate boxes. The page is usually decorated with gold paint, delicately drawn leaves, and flowers.  
·     Science fiction (often abbreviated Sci-Fi) is a genre of fiction. It typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technologytime travelparallel universesfictional worlds, or space exploration.
·     Proto-Science Fiction referred to really old topics before science fiction was even a genre.

·        Develop Visual Literacy and explore historical archives
·        Develop a practicum based on the history of science through scientific manuscripts and
·        Explore the intersection of art and science
·        Use art as a tool to explore scientific content
·        Effectively use the art and science resources offered by the Chester Beatty Library

Learning Objectives:
·        Exercise and demonstrate the use of the elements of design
·        Use materials, tools and processes from a variety of media (drawing, sculpting, and craft)
·        Handle materials effectively
·        Create original works of art in a specific medium using specific content
·        Produce creative works that demonstrate innovation in concepts, formal language and/or materials
·        Describe, analyze and interpret created artwork
·        Demonstrate problem-solving skills by providing a step-by-step approach to specific issues in workshop projects
·        Learn and explore science through the lens of art

Mixed-media paper preferably not smaller than 9x12 inches
Pencil, eraser, scissors, ruler
Colored pencils, sharpies (black and assorted colors), or markers
Gold acrylic and small size brushes + paper-plates to spread acrylic (plates serve as a palate)
Copies of images for inspiration (refer to the end of this document)

Required time: 20 minutes: introduction- presentation
10 minutes sketching and pondering ideas
2 hours of lab time (students develop their own works)

Project Steps:
Students will be given 2 papers each to create characters and illuminated manuscript pages
·        step 1. Students sketch imaginary angels or monsters or hybrid animals, as well as a primary idea for their page-layout on paper 1
·        step 2. Students create their final page layout with frames for texts and images on paper 2
·        step 3. Students draw their imaginary characters inside the frames and write about them inside the text frames
·        step 4. Students color their characters using color pencil or markers and decorate their frames with gold acrylic to complete their illuminated manuscript page

See below images 1-11 for select manuscripts page-layout and students' works. 

Students will be assessed on:
·        Use of creative page layout, and use of design elements to create illuminated manuscript pages
·        Use of effective information and cohesiveness of their page layout
·        Good drawing skills and imagination
·        Good one-to-one discussion about topics

Images from The Wonders of Creation:
For the purpose of this workshop, images are selected from three categories in the manuscript:

Category 1: Angels (Feresh-teh in Persian or Malaa-ek in Arabic)
Category 2: Monsters (Deev in Persian or Shaytaan in Arabic)
Category 3: Hybrid Animals (Imaginary animal-characters)

Angels from The Wonders of Creation manuscript

image 1

image 2

image 3

Manuscript at the Chester Beatty 

Imaginary characters including a monster
and hybrid animals  from The Wonders of Creation manuscript

Students' Works, Dublin, Ireland:

image 4

image 5

image 6

image 7

image 8

image 9

image 10, the frames for images and texts

image 11

Looking at the Manuscripts at the Chester Beatty 

Students' Works, Palo Alto, CA, USA:
Age groups: 9-15
Time: 1hr-30minutes

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