Workshops

A programme of Silk Road workshops.

A programme of workshops related to the Silk Road is available online and in-person at the Aga Khan Centre (as restrictions allow). These include workshops in Islamic carpet design, Ottoman floral illumination, traditional paper preparation, Persian miniature painting and more.

Several workshops are being run in collaboration with The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts.

Workshops

Introduction to Islamic geometry: 6 & 12-fold symmetry

How do we construct by hand the beautiful, varied patterns that adorn all Islamic art? What is the significance of these designs in relation to the spiritual tradition of Islam? Join us for a practical introduction to drawing geometric designs.

In partnership with The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts.

Ornamental treasures of the Silk Road: geometry of Samarkand

The city of Samarkand stands at the junction of trade routes between China, India, and the rest of the world. Intellectual exchange facilitated by the Silk Road nourished a rich cultural flowering in Samarkand.

The uniquely beautiful architectural monuments built by the Timurid dynasty in Samarkand in the late 14th to 15th Centuries have a distinct repertoire of geometric design. The Timurid geometric heritage can be divided into two groups – patterns of the common Islamic repertoire and unique patterns appeared as results of experiments with traditional principles; this second group defines the uniqueness of the Timurid-era style. Timurid geometers, obsessed with the development of particular geometric ideas, sought for specific proportions that led to new patterns with harmonious geometric properties. Their research, held within the strict borders of the canonical tradition, revealed unlimited possibilities of the traditional principles for a pattern designer.

In five online sessions, tutor Rajen Astho will lead participants through a sequence of rare and exquisite geometric designs adorning the walls of monuments: the Samarkand Gur Amir complex, Ulugbek Madrasa, and Bibi Khanum Mosque.

In partnership with The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts.

Fantastical birds of the East

This course explores the rich and varied floral and animal inspired motifs that were exchanged between China and the Islamic world.

Students will learn to draw and paint fantastical birds such as the phoenix (known as the simorgh in Persian, and feng huang in Chinese). We will also explore cloud and floral designs that entered the Islamic world through the Silk Road ceramic trade. They will complete their own paintings on paper using traditional techniques.

In partnership with The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts.

Tulle embroidery & dried flowers workshop with Olga Prinku

A full-day workshop in flowers-on-tulle embroidery as part of the Making Paradise and Silk Road exhibitions at the Aga Khan Centre. You will learn the basic techniques of embroidering with dried flowers and have the opportunity to create your own richly coloured and textured geometric design.

Introduction to Arabic calligraphy

Participants will be introduced to the training process of becoming an Islamic calligrapher. Using traditional tools and materials, they will begin emulating letters of the Arabic alphabet and have a go at writing their own name.

The workshop will be lead by Soraya Syed.

In partnership with The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts.

Introduction to Islamic geometry: 4 and 8-fold symmetry

How do we construct by hand the beautiful, varied patterns that adorn all Islamic art? What is the significance of these designs in relation to the spiritual tradition of Islam? Join us for a practical introduction to drawing geometric designs.

In partnership with The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts.

Architectural tiles: vibrant brickwork

Explore the vibrant brickwork patterns that adorn buildings along the Silk Road. Learn about the symbolic meaning of these patterns and observe their evolution throughout this historic route. Then, learn to construct geometric patterns drawing on examples from two monuments – one in Samarkand, and the other in Herat. Complete your patterns using colours relating to the symbolism of paradise.

In partnership with The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts.

Weaving paradise

Join artist Shorsh Saleh for a participatory flat-weaving (kilim) workshop at the Aga Khan Centre. Participants are invited to design and weave miniature flat weaving around the theme of paradise, using traditional flower motifs. Participants will learn how to design a kilim and use basic flat weaving techniques on a portable loom and have the chance to make a unique traditional kilim.

Paint an image of Buddha Amitabha

Images of Buddha Amitabha can be found in many sacred sites along the Silk Road, from the Dunhuang Caves in China to India, Nepal and many other places throughout the world. In the Mahayana school of Buddhism, veneration of the Buddha is a path to achieving a higher consciousness and eternal bliss in the present.

In this class, you will learn to paint the Buddha Amitabha in his traditional representation – seated in a meditative posture, upon a peacock. You will also understand more about the meaning and significance of the iconography of the Buddha.

In partnership with The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts.

Introduction to Islamic geometry: 5 & 10-fold symmetry

How do we construct by hand the beautiful, varied patterns that adorn all Islamic art? What is the significance of these designs in relation to the spiritual tradition of Islam? Join us for a practical introduction to drawing geometric designs.

In partnership with The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts.