One of my favorite ways to study history is through the arts. What better resource than the Smithsonian and their art exhibits? The Smithsonian Museum of Asian Arts provides a cornucopia of resources, including teacher’s guides and online tours.
Today I want to share with you the information they have about Islam, a religion most non-Muslims know little about. If western Christians and western non-religious folks know a little bit about Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism, we know next to nothing about Islam, and what we do know is often tainted with fear and prejudice.
So I was delighted to find The Arts of the Islamic World. You can view the wonderful pieces the Smithsonian has through their online tour, which has gorgeous photos and corresponding information. To help you place the works of art within a cultural context, the Smithsonian offers a teacher’s guide.
Arts of the Islamic World – A Teacher’s Guide. (Click on the photo for a screen shot of the Table of Contents)
The teacher’s guide provides a basic cultural and historical background, examples and background of various forms of art, as well as projects to do yourself. I enjoyed reading the first person accounts of what it means to be Muslim and how they practice. Various forms of Islamic art are explored and lesson plans are available for teaching different age groups or perhaps more accurately, levels of development and inclination so you can better modify it for your home use. It also contains a list of resources for further study and exploration.
We will be studying Islamic culture later this year, and when we do this will be one of the resources we use.
The Smithsonian is a great place to visit, and if you can’t, then using their online resources is the next best thing. Art creatively captures the unique perspectives of both cultures and individuals, at the same time showing us how similar we are in our humanity and dreams. I look forward to using this resource in educating ourselves about this fascinating culture, and will share other resources I find along the way.
If you’re aware of any other resources or have any favorites, please, don’t hesitate to share! Thanks