A Take on Kalila Wa Demna


Kalila wa Demna is a collection of didactic animal fables, with the jackals Kalila and Demna as two of the principal characters. The story cycle originated in India between 500 and 100 BCE, and circulated widely in the Near East. The fables were translated into many languages, undergoing significant changes in both form and content. The Sanskrit original and several significant early translations have not survived. In Sanskrit literature the story cycle is known as Pañcatantra, while it was often called Fables of Bidpai in early modern Europe.

The earliest illustrated Arabic manuscripts that have survived date from the beginning of the 13th century, while the earliest illustrated Persian example (Istanbul, Topkapi Saray Library, MS H. 363) is from the last quarter of that century. The Arabic version is second only to the Maqāmāt by Ḥariri (d. 1122) in terms of surviving medieval illustrated texts.


After Researching the  illustrations of Kalila wa Demna, I tried to have my own take on it using my usual technique of creating illustrations using photoshop. I tried to create from each image a series of 3 to 4 images where I abstract the most intersteing characteristics of those historical illustrations. I applied color blocking and the repetition of some elements of the illustration to give it a contemprary feel. In this work I depended only on illustrations without adding another elements like I used to do before.

Kalila Wa Demna Talking

in the below illustration we can see Kalila and Demna Talking. The arabic text in the original illustration reflects on the idea of foolish and silly matters can grow bigger wither fed by good or bad ideas.


The Lion & The Rabbit

in this set of illustrations, we can see the lion “symbolizing the king in the book” and the rabbit by the river where their reflection can be seen on the water. The reflection embodies the true inner soul of each character where people should not be decevied by images, as we can see the rabbit being angry and the lion looks sad.


What really interests me in those illustrations of Kalila Wa Demna is how they address the subject of Judgment, which falls perfectly with my research for my proposed project. This is an ongoing experiment my plan is to create many of these illustrations to incorporate them in a bigger piece.


One Comment on “A Take on Kalila Wa Demna

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