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Background Information

What is Asia?

“Asia” is a term invented by the Greeks and Romans, and developed by Western geographers to indicate the land mass east of the Ural Mountains and Ural River, together with offshore islands such as Japan and Java.

GRADE LEVEL: College and Beyond, Elementary School (4-5), High School (9-12), Middle School (6-8)

Background Information

An Introduction to Islam

Islam is one of the world’s major religions. It shares with Judaism and Christianity a belief in a single god. The Arabic name for God is Allah. The word Islam means “surrender (to God).” The followers of Islam are called Muslims, which in Arabic means “one who surrenders to God.”

GRADE LEVEL: College and Beyond, High School (9-12), Middle School (6-8)

Video

Thumri and Kathak Performance

Thumri, a light vocal classical music genre is said to have evolved in North India in the mid-19th century court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Lucknow to accompany the kathak dance form, one of the eight major classical dance forms of India. This program presented by Pandit Rai and Sinha evokes the court ambience of 19th-century and early 20th-century India with a fully choreographed performance of dance, music, and storytelling, depicting the close interaction between these two major art forms.

GRADE LEVEL: College and Beyond, High School (9-12), Middle School (6-8)

Background Information

Buddhist Caves at Ajanta

Learn about Buddhist caves. This is one of a series of caves excavated out of the volcanic rock that extends along a cliff overlooking the Wagora River at Ajanta, about two hours north of the present-day city of Aurangabad, in Maharastra state in western India.

GRADE LEVEL: College and Beyond, High School (9-12), Middle School (6-8)

Background Information

How to Identify a Buddha

The earliest surviving representations of the Buddha date from hundreds of years after his death, so they are not portraits in the usual sense. Buddha images vary greatly from place to place and period to period, but they almost always show these conventional features . . .

GRADE LEVEL: Elementary School (4-5), High School (9-12), Middle School (6-8)

Background Information

The Life of the Buddha

The Buddha—that is, the “Enlightened One”—lived nearly 2500 years ago in northern India. His followers have always seen his life as a shining example to all, but what “really happened” is now impossible to know for certain. Even the earliest stories of his life include miraculous events that may seem hard to take literally. Later versions are even more elaborate, and they differ from one another in many details.

GRADE LEVEL: College and Beyond, Elementary School (4-5), High School (9-12)