Under the patronage of HE Qatar Museums Chairperson Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, an exciting new exhibition, Marvellous Creatures: Animal Fables in Islamic Art was launched at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in Doha today. The exhibition will run from 4 March - 11 July 2015, and entry is free of charge.
On display in the museum's Special Exhibitions Gallery, Marvellous Creatures focuses on the real and mythical animals that appear in the legends, tales, and fables of the Islamic world. Divided into the natural quadrants of fire, air, earth, and water, these creatures introduce well-known and beloved classics including Kalila wa Dimna, the Shahnameh, and One Thousand and One Nights.
The wide variety of objects presented in the Marvellous Creatures exhibition – manuscripts, textiles, ceramics, jewellery, glass, and metalwork – dating from the 10th to the 19th centuries, demonstrate the enduring appeal of these characters and stories across diverse cultures and generations. The illustrations and motifs seen in the exhibition reflect the diversity of Islamic art production.
The exhibition takes visitors on a journey through a vibrant sensory experience, using storytelling in its variety of forms – from colourful illustrations and visual displays, to audio stories and animation.
Commenting on the exhibition launch, Director of the Museum of Islamic Art Aisha Al Khater said: ‘The timeless tales of Kalila wa Dimna, the Shahnameh, and One Thousand and One Nights highlighted in the exhibition will appeal across the community and diverse cultures, including children, young people, and families. We hope that this exhibition successfully introduces these stories to our audience who will carry the meaning of the tales into their own lives, and draw on their artistic and literary heritage to better understand the natural world and their place within it.’ In conjunction with the exhibition there will be a series of child friendly and family activities at MIA, including interactive storytelling, late night family tours, puppet shows and creative art workshops, including a workshop where children can create their own marvellous creatures.
MIA is also offering the wider community a rich agenda of activities and seminars. To open the show, a special Shahnameh Seminar will be delivered by renowned scholars Dr. Sheila Canby, and artist Hamid Rahmanian. The seminar will explore the historic and artistic development of the Shahnameh, the famed epic poem that tells the stories of the heroes and rulers of ancient Persia.
Additionally, MIA will offer late night tours, an evening talk titled: ‘Spot the Elephant: Royal Processions in Mina’i and Lustreware’, and a Karagoz puppet show called ‘Garbage Monster’ by the Istanbul Karagoz Puppet Foundation.
A colourfully-illustrated exhibition album, highlighting key objects and stories featured in the exhibition is also available at the MIA Gift Shop.