Islamic bestiaries were unusual; there are only a handful of extant illustrated editions in this tradition, whereas the Medieval European ones are probably better known. You can be inspired by one or the other or both. Realistic or emblematic, you can choose how to depict your animals and even compile your own choices; I will offer suggestions and proposals but not be didactic. Emblematic might be more fun, also as a chance to explore early Arabic (Mamluk, possibly Syriac or Iraqi) style manuscript painting as a change from all the Indo-Persian and some Ottoman Turkish ones we usually refer to, and use the 1354 Book of the Usefulness of Animals, Kitāb manāfi' al-hayawān - an Islamic Arabic bestiary by Al-Mawṣilī.
This class can be taken as a preface to the Kalila wa Dimna series where we focus on animals proper. And there is even a supplemental class-within-a-class; appropriately, for a shifty animal - it’s the colour-changing chameleon class, which can also be a standalone class taken separately.
This is a very special class where we will also discuss the functions of the medieval bestiary and related; medieval advice literature and mirrors for princes are a research area I'm covering in my PhD and I'll share. Class includes a bespoke handmade different turquoise leather envelope-flap cover to paint and free postage to anywhere in the world… except if you live on a remote island like St Helena, of course (might take 2 months to arrive apparently!) If, due to UK postal strikes and various delays, you do not manage to work on your cover in the duration of the class, we will have a spill-over session and special ‘book editions’ of the Miniature Monthly Meetings where you’ll get an opportunity to work on your book covers. I will of course, be demonstrating during class.
PLEASE NOTE that these bespoke book covers are limited editions that come with the classes and once they’re gone, they’re gone. If there is a particular size or colour of cover you like, please contact me for custom-made miniature books if you are interested. Alternatively, you can watch out for future classes coming soon, or sign up to the mailing list to be notified of future classes.
You’ll end up with your own library of handmade Islamic books!
Schedule of 6 Islamic Bestiary classes:
1: 7 March 2023, 10pm - 11pm GMT
2: 14 March 2023, 10pm - 11pm GMT (21 March 2023, 10pm - midnight: Supplemental Chameleon class, booked separately)
3: 28 March 2023, 10pm - 11pm GMT
4: 4 April 2023, 10pm - 11pm GMT
5 and 6 double class: 11 April 2023, 10pm - midnight