Following its success at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha last year the internationally acclaimed exhibition Marvellous Creatures: Animals in Islamic Art has moved to Toronto, Canada, where it will be on show at the city’s Aga Khan Museum until 11 September.
The exhibition, developed and produced originally in Qatar by the Museum of Islamic Art, focuses on the real and mythical animals that appear in the legends, tales, and fables of the Islamic world. The Marvellous Creatures exhibition has been expanded in Toronto, and now also includes additional works from the Aga Khan Museum Collection, loans from international private and public institutions, and a contemporary installation by Lebanese artist Mohamad-Said Baalbaki.
Divided into the natural quadrants of fire, air, earth, and water, these magical creatures take centre stage in the artworks on show which span the 7th to 21st centuries, and re-visit many well-known and beloved classic fables from the Middle East, North Africa, and Indian subcontinent, including Kalila wa Dimna, the Shahnameh, and One Thousand and One Nights.
The wide variety of objects presented in the Marvellous Creatures exhibition – including manuscripts, textiles, ceramics, jewellery, glass, and metalwork – demonstrates the enduring appeal of these characters and stories across diverse cultures and generations, as well as the diversity of Islamic art through the centuries.
“Whether you’re considering Aesop’s Fables or a Persian epic like the Shahnameh, Marvellous Creatures of all kinds play a powerful role in our collective imaginations,” said Director and CEO of the Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum Henry Kim: “Animals are appealing at any age, yet they can also transmit wisdom across generations and cultures. This is a fascinating exhibition that will engage the whole family.”