Crossing Borders/Breaking Boundaries
The Arts of India, 1556-1658
June 23 - July 1, 2008
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Unit of Study:            Painting, Printing and Poetry

Lesson Title:              Landscapes, Bird Borders and Poetic Prose: Exploring the Art and Text of Mughal India

Discipline:                  Art

Grade Level:              3rd Grade

Author:                      Adrienne Torrey

County:                      Montgomery County, MD

Time Period:              Seven class periods


Landscape paintings make up some of the images of the manuscripts of the imperial Mughal albums.  Birds, plants and flowers are some of the illustrations in the surrounding elaborate borders.   This painting, illustration and printmaking unit provides students with the opportunity to learn how the artisans of the Mughal Empire drew upon their environment to create naturalistic imagery for their artwork.  Students will learn that similar subject matter may be used by artists of differing cultures and historical time periods.  They will combine landscape painting with printed bird illustrations, and include writing to create a personal muraqqa’ and will learn that similar themes can be expressed in a variety of ways through different materials and styles.


Students will have examined folio samples from the Muraqqa exhibition and Mughal time period, and will have learned about the development and inclusion of naturalistic imagery in the work of that time period.  Students will be provided with general information about the Mughal empire, including the atelier workshops, geography and languages.


  • Images of landscapes, birds and plants
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Tempera paints
  • Paint brushes
  • Water containers
  • Palettes
  • Styrofoam trays
  • Printing ink
  • Brayers
  • Newspaper
  • Paper towels


Muraqqa: Imperial Mughal Albums from the Chester Beatty Library, Elaine Wright, Art Services International

Birds of Maryland and Delaware Field Guide, Stan Tekiela, Adventure Publications Incorporated

An Illustrated Guide to Eastern Woodland Wildflowers and Trees, Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Tina Thieme Brown, University of Virginia Press

Assorted photographs of landscapes


Standards/Learner Outcomes:

Fine Arts Standards

Creative Expression:  Students will be able to draw to achieve a likeness of people, places and things by showing aspects of form and detail.

Inspired by the unique styles and forms of different artists, students will create expressive works of art that reveal personal ideas and feelings.

Students will be able to choose ways to make ideas and/or feelings clearer by using specific elements of art and principles of design.

Inspired by the art of people from times and cultures, students will create a work of art that reflects aspects of their daily lives.


Content Standards

Language Arts:  Students will be able to compose oral, written and visual presentations that express personal ideas, inform and persuade.

Science: Students will be able to gather and question data from different sources of scientific investigations which include reviewing appropriate print resources, observing what things are like or what is happening somewhere, collecting specimens for analysis, and doing experiments.

Students will be able to recognize that clear communication is an essential part of science because it helps scientists inform others about their work, expose their ideas to criticism by other scientists, and stay informed about scientific discoveries around the world.



Fine Arts Objectives

Students will be able to examine the styles and forms of artists of the Mughal period by looking at a variety of images and brainstorming the art elements, principles of designs and techniques evident in the work.

Students will be able to use art elements and principles of design to create a landscape painting and bird illustration showing movement.

Students will be able to draw to achieve a likeness of birds and plants by adding details with lines and shapes.


Content Objectives

Language Arts:  Students will be able to use sensory details and vivid language with active verbs and colorful adjectives to write poetry and prose.

Science:  Students will be able to use magnifying instruments to observe and describe (using drawings and text) the details and forms found in plants and flowers. 



  • Atelier
  • Borders
  • Brayer
  • Calligraphy
  • Decorative
  • Form
  • Illustration
  • Informational text
  • Investigation
  • Manuscripts
  • Monochromatic
  • Movement
  • Muraqqa
  • Observation
  • Painting
  • Patchwork
  • Pattern
  • Poetry
  • Printing ink
  • Printing Plate
  • Printmaking
  • Proportion
  • Prose
  • Textiles
  • Transfer
  • Unity
  • Value


As a class, students will listen to the sounds of birds and describe the sounds they hear and discuss why artists might include birds in their work.   They will look at images of landscapes and discuss a favorite outdoor place. 

Scope and Sequence – The painting and printmaking portion of this artwork is described below.  Students will have had prior experience mixing tints and shades, and learning about value.  In the classroom, students will complete landscape drawings and paintings, as well as bird illustrations and prints. 

Teacher Directed

Day 1

Teacher will play the national anthem of India and provide background information of Mughal artwork, highlighting the landscape scenes and border decorations.

The teacher will demonstrate several ways to sketch a landscape.

Day 2-4

The teacher will demonstrate how to begin painting a landscape, working with larger areas first, then working towards details.

Day 5

The teacher will show images of birds from the Chesapeake Bay and east coast and demonstrate how to draw a bird, emphasizing correct proportions and a sense of movement.

The teacher will demonstrate how to transfer bird drawing on to a piece of Styrofoam tray

Day 6

The teacher will demonstrate how to use a brayer to roll printing ink onto the printing plate and print onto paper, considering space and placement.

Day 7

Using pen, the teacher will demonstrate how to add details to show form on the birds, as well as add plants and flowers.

Guided Practice

The teacher will demonstrate every aspect of the art making process, including painting a landscape, drawing a bird; transferring the image to Styrofoam, applying printing ink to the printing plate and printing onto paper.  

The teacher will lead class discussions and will organize and distribute all materials and oversee cleanup.

Independent Practice

Day 1 

Students will look at landscape paintings and discuss foreground, middle ground and background.  They will consider a favorite outdoor place.  They will use pencils to develop a vertical landscape drawing.

Day 2-4

Students will paint their landscape paintings, considering composition and placement.  They will include a variety of tints and shades. 

Day 5

Students will use pencils to develop a drawing of a local or coastal, considering movement.  They will transfer their bird drawings onto a piece of styrofoam tray.

Day 6

Students will apply printing ink to their printing plates and print their bird image on to paper.  They will consider space and placement. 

Day 7

Students will finish their work by adding decorative papers to add to the borders, as well as details to their birds. 



Students will complete a basic rubric.    



Students will participate in a gallery walk, observing their classmates finished artwork.  They will complete a reflective worksheet, commenting on their work and will provide written praise to other classmates.  Finished work will be displayed in the school for staff, parents and other students to see.

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