Crossing Borders/Breaking Boundaries IV:
The Impact of Islamic Culture on the Arts of the Renaissance

July 19-26, 2004
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Lesson Title: The Role of the Islamic Culture on Manuscript Illustration and its interaction with other art forms in Renaissance Europe.

Name: Maria Barbella and Anne Brinsmade-DeFelice

School: Friendly High School, Prince George’s County Public Schools

Grades: 9-12

Lesson plan appropriate: Grades 7-12

Discipline taught: High School Spanish, English and Business

Discipline- lesson plan appropriate: Spanish, Art, Social Studies and Language Arts

Approximate length of time for the lesson: 180 minutes- 2 days/ AB schedule

Big idea: Re-Mix of the Islamic Renaissance border art used in text illustration

Essential Learner Outcome: The student will examine the role of cultures in shaping regional and global art

Objective: The student will be able to identify, write and draw the four Islamic symbols used in illustration of calligraphy borders:
1.) Rumi 2.) Saz 3.) Spiral and 4.) Centani, as well as, natural (organic) shapes, flowers and animals used in the Islamic culture. In addition, students will be able to write about their observations of architecture, goldsmithing, textiles, mathematics and other disciplines implied and illustrated in the story Aladdin and the Magic Lamp.

Abstract: The students will read and identify the vocabulary from the story Aladdin and the Magic Lamp by Antoine Galland, an eighteenth-century French fraud that was inserted into the 1001 Nights. Students will then place this fictional episode in relation to the culture of the Silk Road and employ Islamic vocabulary to describe both.

Lesson Components:

a.) Warm-up: The students will read for 20 minutes the story of Aladdin… over the course of two days, (A/B schedule). Teacher: “Where do you think the story originated?” Antoine Galland,an eighteenth-century writer created a work of literature in the oriental tradition, which became very popular. He claimed it was translated from Arabic, but when the Arabic manuscript was read, the syntax was very much in the French style and his fraud was uncovered.

b.)Modeling: The teacher will display prints and other visuals in order to illustrate the lesson.

c.) Guided Practice: The students will research from a web selection several examples of illuminated borders, to be used for the next class meeting. The students will write definitions of teacher supplied vocabulary words for each of the disciplines mentioned: ie: dome, column, gold inlay, etc. Patterns see Objective # 9.

d.) Independent Practice: Students will be given a handout containing a grid sheet with the illuminated border vocabulary words. The students will draw a picture illustrating each vocabulary word.

d.) Assessment: The students will have a vocabulary quiz of the symbols used to illustrate the borders
and other vocabulary terms. The students will write, in Spanish, a brief illustrated “letter” describing their observations of architecture, as well as, textiles, music, and other art forms. The students will receive a rubric based grade.

e.) Closure/Summary: The students will display their drawing sheets and take turns reading their letters aloud.


a.) Web sites:
National Gallery of Art:
Freer and Sackler Galleries:
Medieval and Renaissance information:

b.) Student worksheets.

c.) Objects: Realia, prints, paints, colors and colored papers.

Plans for Lesson Assessment: Continued classroom activities will include and refer to the vocabulary and designs.

Keywords/Lesson plans: Manuscript illustration/ illumination/ borders in the Islamic/ Renaissance tradition.


Sponsored by
the Center for Renaissance & Baroque Studies
and the Maryland State Department of Education