As we continue our visit to Animal Kingdom’s Asia, let’s slow things down a bit and stroll the Maharajah Jungle Trek. This walking tour takes us outside the village of Anandapur to the ruins of a former sultan’s palace. Nature has grown into and through this long-abandoned site, but evidence of the grandeur that once was still peeks through. What results is a rather grandiose habitat for the animals housed amid the lush vegetation.
According to lore, the palace once was a hunting retreat where Man displayed his mastery over Earth’s beasts. Over time it transformed into a protected animal sanctuary showing how nature reclaims its own. Towers and other small structures have been demolished by trees growing from within them. Once a grand ballroom, the aviary now hosts a rainbow of plumage. Only remnants remain of its colored tiles and formal columns.
The palace’s evolution from wealth to wilds is actually told through murals that flank the entrance and exit of the tiger-viewing rotunda and on a five-panel bas relief near the entrance to the aviary. The final panel indicates that, although Man sometimes brings destruction and upsets the circle of life, balance can be restored.
The Maharajah Jungle Trek is a pleasant, relaxing walk-through that many overlook but that truly shouldn’t be missed. There are three separate tiger viewing areas, where Guests can feel almost as if they could reach out and touch the majestic creatures. Also encountered along the Trek are Komodo Dragon, Rodrigues Fruit and Malayan Flying Fox bats, Blackbuck and Elds deer, and more than 50 species of exotic birds.
I mentioned above that the Trek’s backstory is told through art, with the final bas relief panel leaving us with an air of hope. Today, create a bas relief paper sculpture of your favorite Maharajah Jungle Trek animal.
What is relief sculpture? An artwork, often carved or molded, that projects outward from its background, giving a sense of dimension to the piece. Relief can be either bas—low—projecting minimally, or haute—high—projecting a greater distance from the background. Your bas relief paper sculpture should ideally project an inch or less from its surface. For a more dramatic effect, mount thin strips of craft foam or cardboard between the relief and the background.
SCHOOL SUBJECT: Art
SKILL LEVEL: Middle Grades
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