Allure of the Near East Treasures from the Huntington Museum of Art’s Touma Collection
E D U C AT O R G U I D E
This Educators Guide was designed for use in conjunction with field trips to the Allure of
the Near East exhibition, or for use as a stand‐alone classroom resource. The materials included here contain curriculum connections aligned with Common Core and Georgia Professional Standards for 7th-9th grade Visual Arts, Language Arts, Social Studies and Math, but are adaptable for use at other grade levels.
Dish. Turkey, Iznik, Ottoman Empire c. 16001625. Underglaze-painted fritware. Huntington Museum of Art.
Prayer carpet. Western Iran, Kurdish, 19th c. Wool and cotton. Huntington Museum of Art.
With Allure of the Near East, Telfair Museums brings together centuriesold works of art from the Near East that showcase exquisite craftsmanship and incredible beauty. Art produced in these regions, largely Islamic-ruled dynasties, were predominantly decorative. In other words, art objects were also everyday objects – ceramics, metalware, glass vessels, and textiles, for instance. These items and their decoration speak volumes about the people who used and created them. These pieces also demonstrate the cross-cultural connections of their time; each of them came from regions along busy trade routes, including the Silk Road, resulting in visual imagery influenced by places as far as Spain or China. The art of these civilizations is both beautiful and didactic, serving as a lens through which to discuss elements of art, historical movements, and principles of mathematics.
AUG. 16, 2013 — JAN. 5, 2014
There are certainly many misconceptions about the Middle East, many of which have persisted for hundreds of years. It is through learning more about these cultures that we can dispel myths that are propagated by depictions in the media and popular culture. These stereotypes can be about religious, ethnic or cultural groups. One way to explore a culture is through the art that it creates. This exhibition provides an doorway through which students can begin to explore the art of the Middle East and reflect on the traditions of cultures that produced such work. They also provide a jumping off point for discussion of other facets of life, particularly in the art of the Middle East, which has so many useful (and beautiful) everyday objects. One of the Toumasâ€&#x; goals in sharing their collection was to promote goodwill and understanding of Middle Eastern culture in times of upheaval; art is one way to do just that.
Georgia Performance Standards for Social Studies SS7G8 The student will describe the diverse cultures of the people who live in Southwest Asia (Middle East). a. Explain the differences between an ethnic group and a religious group. b. Explain the diversity of religions within the Arabs, Persians, and Kurds. c. Compare and contrast the prominent religions in Southwest Asia (Middle East): Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. SS9WH5 The student will trace the origins and expansion of the Islamic World between 600 CE and 1300 CE. a. Explain the origins of Islam and the growth of the Islamic Empire. e. Describe the impact of the Crusades on both the Islamic World and Europe. f. Analyze the relationship between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Georgia Performance Standards for Visual Arts VAHSDRCU.1 Articulates ideas and universal themes from diverse cultures of the past and present. a. Identifies how the issues of time, place and culture are reflected in selected art works. b. Compares the ways in which the meaning of a specific work of art has been affected over time because of changes in interpretation and context.
These activities might be particularly useful when beginning a unit focusing on the Middle East, or just in tackling the issue of stereotypes or labeling in general. Begin by identifying what misconceptions students, or society as a whole, might have about the region. [The following two pages are designed to be used as a double-sided handout to this end.] Discuss the way Arabs are depicted in the mediaâ€”there are dozens of movies with which students may be familiar (Aladdin, Indiana Jones, to name a few). The documentary Reel Bad Arabs (available on Vimeo) addresses this issue with multiple examples. Lead a discussion with your class about the images we see (some have been included) and how they inform our opinion about certain groups of people. Turning to the opposite side of the page, we look at another approach to learning about a culture: art. By looking at objects created by and for the people of this region we can get a more accurate idea of what that society may have been like. Ask students to consider these objects from this exhibition and determine objectively what they might denote about that culture. The following page asks students to find their own objects in the gallery (at the Telfair or in an online exhibition from MWNF, see Resources section) to dispel prevailing myths.
We see images of the Middle East all around us—in the news, in movies and on TV. We hear blanket statements about religious, ethnic or geographic groups. Take a moment to reflect on ways you often see Middle Easterners portrayed in the box below. Then discuss as a class.
Visual images can be powerful. Consider the images below. The Western world began its fascination with the „Orient‟ in the 1800s; it was often depicted as an exotic, very foreign (unfamiliar) culture. With Hollywood certain stereotypes about the Middle East have been perpetuated and exaggerated. What do these images say about the Western view of the Middle East?
"Why is it that Arabs are always shown as either oil-rich sheiks, terrorists, or belly dancers?" — Warren David, president of the AmericanArab AntiDiscrimination Committee
Screenshot, Aladdin, Disney, 1992.
Detail, The Death of Sardanapalus, Eugène Delacroix, 1827 -1828, Musée du Louvre+
Screenshot, Aladdin, Disney, 1992.
on paper. Huntington Museum of Art.
Firman. Iran, 1881. Ink and pigment
Vase (in form of mosque lamp), Europe, 19th-20th c. enameled glass. Huntington Museum of Art.
Astrolabe. Iran, 1717-18 AD. Brass. Huntington Museum of Art.
Now that we‟ve established certain misconceptions about the Middle East, let‟s take a step back. One way to learn more about a culture—any culture—is to consider the art and artifacts they used and created. Think of yourself as an archaeologist finding these objects and consider what they indicate about the culture from which they came. Look at each of these objects and make an inference (like a scientist might draw a conclusion) about what they might say about the society they‟re from+ What is it? An astrolabe. Astrolabes are scientific tools that were used to tell how the sky would look at a particular place and time. Inference:
What is it? A vase. This particular vase was made in Europe but it imitated the shape and decoration of traditional mosque lamps. Inference:
What is it? A firman+ Although it‟s elaborately illuminated (decorated) this piece is actually a firman, a legal document issued by royal rule. Inference:
What conclusions have you drawn from these images? How are they different from the conclusions people might draw from the pop culture images?
As you look at the objects gathered here, find a piece that challenges each of these preconceived notions and explain why you feel it does so. Myth: All people from the Middle East are Muslims. Object:
Myth: Art from the Middle East never depicts human figures. Object:
Myth: Islamic art is always religious in nature. Object:
Myth: Islam is an inherently (by nature) violent religion. Object:
What conclusions can you draw from the works of art youâ€&#x;ve seen here?
You may have noticed that a lot of the objects in this exhibition and this guide are what we call decorative arts—utilitarian objects like furniture, ceramics and glassware. This is principally because for early Muslims the goal of art was not to imitate nature (since no one could rival God‟s creation) but to make existing objects beautiful+ In decorating those objects artisans wanted to glorify God in other ways. The scrolling floral motifs you see represented the gardens of Paradise. The more geometric patterns (designs with lines and shapes) express the beauty and complexity of God and his creation. Islamic scholars are responsible for some of the most sophisticated mathematical concepts. These aren‟t just abstract concepts but are also visible in the artwork from these regions+ If design is finding the solution to a problem, math was the answer.
Mathematics Georgia Performance Standards MM1P4. Students will make connections among mathematical ideas and to other disciplines. a. Recognize and use connections among mathematical ideas. b. Understand how mathematical ideas interconnect and build on one another to produce a coherent whole. c. Recognize and apply mathematics in contexts outside of mathematics. MM1G3. Students will discover, prove, and apply properties of triangles, quadrilaterals, and other polygons. Georgia Performance Standards for Visual Arts VA7CU.2 Investigates and discovers personal relationship to community, culture, and world through creating and studying art. b. Articulates ideas and universal themes from diverse cultures of the past and/or present. VA7C.1 Applies information from other disciplines to enhance the understanding and production of artworks. a. Makes connections to other subjects that help expand art knowledge and/or skills. b. Integrates themes, ideas, and concepts from a variety of disciplines/subjects. c. Investigates and articulates how personal beliefs, cultural traditions, and current social, economic, and political contexts influence the interpretation and creation of artworks. VA8CU.1 Discovers how the creative process relates to art history. a. Identifies and analyzes universal themes, symbols, and ideas from diverse past and present cultures and interprets how factors of time and place (climate, resources, ideas, politics, and technology) influence meaning of artworks. b. Uses a variety of resources (including technology) to investigate artists and artwork from many cultures and time periods as a source of inspiration and development of their vision. VAHSVAPR.1 Uses formal qualities of art (elements and principles) to create unified composition and communicate meaning. c. Uses thumbnail sketches and visual/verbal notes to plan compositions. d. Discusses and applies concepts, such as activating negative space, visual weight, paths of movement, noncentered focal point, and variety within repetition.
Have students experiment with the concept of shapes and tessellation. Discuss common shapes that tessellate (like squares, hexagons) and ones that don‟t (circles)+ Play with pattern blocks or shapes, if possible. You can use the following page as a handout. Show examples of geometric designs in Islamic patterns (particularly tile and some wood carving) that range from simple to complex. (See the resources section for suggestions.) Note that the shapes tend to have decoration inside as well as creating an overall pattern. Ask students to create their own tessellating patterns, with materials of your choice.
We see patterns every day. Tessellations are planes that are covered (or tiled) with shapes without gaps or overlaps. You can find them all around—think of soccer balls or bathroom tiles. Islamic art is especially full of geometric patterns. Not only did Muslims scholars develop complex mathematical concepts, but creating beautiful patterns was thought to glorify God (like Him, they are both infinite and beautiful). Some are fairly simple, using common shapes. Others are more complicated, with irregular shapes that we don‟t have names for+
Tiles, fritware with lustre decoration, Kashan, Iran, 13th-14th century, Museum no. 1074-1875+ © Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
Wooden minbar, Fatih Cami, Istanbul, Turkey, c. 1771.
Explore the idea of geometric patterns in art. Many examples of Islamic art and architecture are decorated with geometric patterns+ Once you‟ve explored them, create your own. Decide what object your pattern would adorn. What is the significance of your pattern? Choose a design that is meaningful to you. Make detailed plans – use graph paper (or computer software), sketch, make calculations. Once your teacher has approved your design, create your pattern. This could be done in a variety of media – see what your options are. Exhibit your artwork and explain it. Describe your process and the meaning behind it.
Tiles, Jameh Masjid, Isfahan, Iran, 16th-17th century, Thomas Detangase, Flickr.
Table, ebonized wood and ivory, Damascus, Syria, late 19th c. Gift of Drs. Joseph and Omayma Touma, Huntington Museum of Art.
Use your pattern to actually decorate a real object - from the cover of your notebook to a box or maybe even a table! As a class, design a tessellated pattern to decorate a wall of the room or stretch of hallway. Each person can create his/her own design within their tile/s.
Many of the objects in this exhibition were never intended to be displayed in a museum. The majority of them were created for personal use by private citizens. The art from these regions, for the most part isn‟t paintings and sculptures but everyday objects that are made beautiful. But the objects are more than simply beautiful; they speak volumes about the societies and cultures in which they were produced or used. Discuss the importance of objects and their ability to tell stories about the culture from which they originated. A wonderful example and resources is the „A History of the World in 100 Objects‟ series (see Resource section); if possible listen to one or more 15-minute podcasts with students to get an idea of what objects can tell us. Use the following page as a handout. Have students create their own „History of Ottoman Turkey/the Safavid Dynasty/the Mughal Empire++‟ series by creating a few-minute presentation on an object from a certain time period. For objects and further resources the Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) is a great place to start (see Resource section of this guide). Encourage students to answer certain questions in creating their presentation, including the usual 5 W‟s but also several „hows,‟ such as: How was this object made? How was it used? How is it representative of the Empire it came from? How does it reflect other cultures? (Think about trade and exchange of goods.) How is the same kind of object used today, if at all?
Georgia Performance Standards for Social Studies SS7G5 The student will locate selected features in Southwestern Asia (Middle East). b. Locate on a world and regional political-physical map the nations of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. SS7G8 The student will describe the diverse cultures of the people who live in Southwest Asia (Middle East). b. Explain the diversity of religions within the Arabs, Persians, and Kurds. c. Compare and contrast the prominent religions in Southwest Asia (Middle East): Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. SS9WH5 The student will trace the origins and expansion of the Islamic World between 600 CE and 1300 CE. a. Explain the origins of Islam and the growth of the Islamic Empire. b. Identify the Muslim trade routes to India, China, Europe, and Africa and assess the economic impact of this trade. f. Analyze the relationship between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. SS9WH12 The student will examine the origins and contributions of the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires. a. Describe the geographical extent of the Ottoman Empire during the rule of Suleyman the Magnificent, the Safavid Empire during the reign of Shah Abbas I, and the Mughal Empire during the reigns of Babur and Akbar. b. Explain the ways in which these Muslim empires influenced religion, law, and the arts in their parts of the world. Georgia Performance Standards for Visual Arts VA7CU.2 Investigates and discovers personal relationship to community, culture, and world through creating and studying art. b. Articulates ideas and universal themes from diverse cultures of the past and/or present. VA7C.1 Applies information from other disciplines to enhance the understanding and production of artworks. a. Makes connections to other subjects that help expand art knowledge and/or skills. b. Integrates themes, ideas, and concepts from a variety of disciplines/subjects. c. Investigates and articulates how personal beliefs, cultural traditions, and current social, economic, and political contexts influence the interpretation and creation of artworks. VAHSDRCU.1 Articulates ideas and universal themes from diverse cultures of the past and present. a. Identifies how the issues of time, place and culture are reflected in selected art works. b. Compares the ways in which the meaning of a specific work of art has been affected over time because of changes in interpretation and context.
Charger. Iran, first half of 18th c. Underglazepainted fritware. Huntington Museum of Art.
Prayer Carpet. Tabriz, Iran, late 19th c. Silk. Huntington Museum of Art.
Most art from the Middle East is not painting or sculptures, but rather everyday objects that were made beautiful. These objects tell us so much about where they came from—not just in how they were used but in how they looked and why.
For example, the carpet above was made to resemble a mosque, because it was used for prayer. (Do you see the arch, the columns, the lamp?) The plate above uses white and blue that was popular in China—this type of pottery was traded all over the Middle East and widely imitated by native potters.
Listen to a few episodes of A History of the World in 100 Objects. You‟ll be creating your own episode (or presentation) with an object from the Ottoman, Safavid or Mughal empires. Be sure to address the following questions in your presentation. Where did this object come from (what period and place)? What is it made of? How does that relate to where it came from? What was it used for? Who commissioned it, or who may have used it? What does this object tell us about the person who created it, the person who used it, and the society it came from? Is the object inherently religious? Why or why not? Why is it decorated the way it is? Does it have writing on it? Geometric patterns? Flowers? Animals? People? What is the significance? How does your relate to other objects? Are there connections to other artwork from the same empire? What about other empires? How does it reflect the connection between various cultures? All together the stories and objects assembled tell fascinating stories about these three empires. See if you can create a virtual exhibition of these objects and put it on display as a class somewhere in your school. How could the exhibition be organized? Think of multiple possibilities.
Think about the everyday objects we use today. Your shoes, for instance. Or your notebook. How do they reflect today‟s society? Where were they made? How are they decorated? In the year 2600 what do you think someone might guess about our society based on these objects?
In this section you will find resources referred to in earlier materials as well as additional references materials for you and your students.
V&A Museum: Teacher Resources for Math and Islamic Art http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/t/teachers-resource-maths-andislamic-art-and-design/ The V&A offers a wealth of information regarding Islamic art and geometric patterns. There are numerous illustrated examples of mathematical concepts as well as corresponding artwork and even printable templates of shapes and patterns.
Fountain Magazine: Islamic Art and the Influence on M.C. Escher http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/The-Influence-of-IslamicArt-on-MC-Escher To take the extension further, students could connect their own tessellated patterns to those of M.C. Escher, who also drew his inspiration from Islamic design. The article elaborates on his fascination while providing ample visual examples.
A History of the World in 100 Objects http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/a_history_of_the_world.aspx The above site, part of the British Museum, offers a guide to each of the objects featured on the program. Objects are organized chronologically by theme. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/ At the BBC site you can listen to the 15-minute podcasts (audio files) that describe each of the objects and their significance.
Masterpieces of Islam from the Louvre http://mini-site.louvre.fr/trois-empires/en/index_en_a.php The Louvre focuses this portion of their website on the arts of three great empires: the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal dynasties. Students can explore various works of art, organized by medium (ceramic, metal, wood, etc.). Each section has explanatory text as well as images of several objects below.
Museum With No Frontiers: Discover Islamic Art http://www.discoverislamicart.org/learn/ The Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) is a totally online museum with a database of thousands of images and information. In addition there are new exhibitions (at http://www.discoverislamicart.org/exhibitions/ISL/), often curated with prominent museums, constantly being added. The „learn‟ section is designed for students+ http://www.discoverislamicart.org/learn/zone_en.html This part of the website explains to educators how to use the website for their students‟ benefit+
University of Chicago: Teaching the Middle East http://teachmiddleeast.lib.uchicago.edu/ The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago is a wonderful resource. This site has a broader scope than art, examining the study of the Middle East from various perspectives. It offers foundational information, scholarly essays, images and lesson plans.
Harvard University Center for Middle Eastern Studies http://cmes.hmdc.harvard.edu/outreach/teachingresources Harvard‟s Center for Middle Eastern Studies has compiled a list of resources specifically for teachers. Included is a link to a paper that outlines the benefits of object-centered study as well as other practical links that provide information about the Middle East and its rich history as well as contemporary cultural pieces that would engage older students.
Library of Congress: Country Studies http://memory.loc.gov/frd/cs/cshome.html The Library of Congress provides an overview of useful information about each country. This count be helpful for educators who want more background information on the history or economy of a country, or for students beginning independent research.
Penn Arts & Sciences Middle East Center: Resources for Teachers http://cmes.hmdc.harvard.edu/outreach/teachingresources This site features a long list of links that will be useful for teachers of all ages and for various resources about all aspects of the Middle East+ It‟s a good starting point as well as a place to go for additional information about a particular topic relating to the region.
The Educators Guide will prepare you for tour content, but what about tour procedures? Keep things running smoothly with this list.
Don‟t worry, we will go over these again on your arrival, but it does help if students have heard them from you first. Explore with your eyes, not your hands. Telfair Museums was created in order to share art and knowledge. We take special care of the art in our collections so that it can be shared for a long, long time. Even the gentlest touches can add up to harmful results. Point with your words, not your finger. Even if you know not to touch, if you point too closely to a part of a painting or sculpture, you might accidentally touch it. Instead of pointing, describe what you want to point out using words like “in the center,” “at the bottom,” “next to the corner,” “to the right,” “above,” and “below+” Walk and move carefully. Follow your docent. Take your time, watch where you are going, and hold onto handrails while using the stairs. Listen carefully, raise your hand, speak clearly but quietly. The museum is a place for thinking and learning. The same rules that make learning easier in a classroom are used here too. Eating, drinking, and chewing gum are not allowed. Photography is not allowed.
Our docents are dedicated volunteers. Your prompt notification regarding cancellations or late arrival helps prevent mismanagement of the time they so generously donate. To cancel a tour, please call 912.790.8827 If you will be more than 10 minutes late, or are cancelling the day of the tour, please inform the Telfair Academy museum receptionist at 912.790.8871 or the Jepson Center receptionist at 912.790.8800. Before you enter the museum/get off the bus, divide into groups with an adult in each. When you check in at the admission desk, please provide the number of students and chaperones to the front desk staff and check backpacks, lunches, and jackets. Stay with the group you have been assigned to. Maintain discipline without interrupting the docent. Proximal control works great! Bathroom Breaks: Academy bathrooms are located in the basement level. There is a bathroom on the third floor in the touring area, but its use during tours interferes with student attentiveness. Reserve it for emergency use only. Please let us know about your experience. We are constantly evaluating and improving our programs. Your observations and ideas are a valuable resource. Please share them at 912.790.8827.
The New York Accents exhibition brings together a wide variety of works that demonstrates the Telfair‟s, and Savannah‟s, various connections to New York over the last 200 years. The story begins with the Telfair family, who often visited and bought decorative arts from New York and other northern hubs. Over the years the relationship grew, with the development of the Telfair‟s Savannah Art Club in the 1920s, attracting New York artists, and with prominent members of the art community like Gari Melchers and Kirk Varnedoe maintaining strong ties to both cities. The artworks collected here each convey an aspect of the special connection these two historic cities share.
Spanish Sojourns will be the first exhibition to explore the Spanish paintings of Robert Henri. Widely celebrated as both an artist and a teacher, Henri also played a pivotal role in the history of American art as one of the key organizers of the progressive 1908 exhibition of the Eight, and throughout his career championed the realistic portrayal of contemporary life. Spain and its people held a particular fascination for Henri, who was attracted to the nation‟s sunny climate, ancient culture, and spirited citizens+ Henri‟s Spanish portraits also reflect his admiration for the great Spanish masters Diego Velasquez and Francisco Goya, whose works he studied closely.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, the Telfair brings an exhibition that memorializes the event and showcases the way in which the media handled this very public tragedy. Andy Warhol‟s treatment of JFK speaks to the way in which television and mass media played a role in the public perception of the event and its aftermath. These prints from the Herbert Brito collection provoke us to think critically about the way in which the media has, and continues, to shape our understanding.
As an educator, you are eligible for a special membership rate! Our $35 Educator‟s Membership entitles you to all of the following: Unlimited free admission to the Telfair Museums three sites [Telfair Academy, Jepson Center for the Arts, and Owens Thomas House] Invitations to special members-only events and lectures Discounted art classes 10* discount at the Telfair Museums‟ stores Eligibility to join museum member groups A one-time use guest pass It pays to join! Visit www.telfair.org or call 912.790.8866
Telfair Museums extends its thanks to the Hungtinton Museum of Art for their partnership in making this exhibition exchange possible.
Several images in this educator guide depict objects from the Touma Collection of the Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV. These images can be found in the Touma Near Eastern Collection catalogue. Photo credit: Mary S. Rezny