Badí‘ Calendar Teaching Puzzle: A Second Artistic Project Inspired by the Calendar Course
Frances Pollitt, of Wayland, Massachusetts, USA, was a learner in the Wilmette Institute’s 2015 online course Badí‘ (Bahá’í) Calendar: Reshaping our Material, Social, and Spiritual Reality. This course, like all Wilmette Institute courses, encouraged those taking the course to consider a final project, perhaps creating an artistic project representing something they had learned in their studies. Frances has now commissioned two major art pieces representing the Badí‘ calendar.
The first artisic piece was a stained-glass skylight installed in her home and described in the September 2016 Wilmette Institute eNewsletter.
Frances’ second art piece—a Badí‘ Calendar Teaching Calendar—was an outcome of the first project. She says that, after living with the stained-glass dome for a year, it became clear that a teaching puzzle would help people learn more details about the calendar. The puzzle’s design is based on many of the elements used in the stained-glass dome design, such as nineteen wedges, a central sun motif, crimson arcs, green turbans, and bright colors.
The Badí‘ Calendar Teaching Puzzle is a perpetual calendar displaying one Bahá’í month at a time. It is not a jigsaw puzzle where a picture is made up of jigsawed pieces. Rather, the teaching puzzle consists of removable calendar-specific pieces that are changed every Bahá’í month. The user learns about the Badí‘ Calendar by setting up that month’s name inscribed on a central medallion, then lining up the nineteen month/day wedges in their correct order, next inserting the seven week/day pieces, and, finally, adding the Gregorian day pieces. All told, each month requires ninety-six pieces and more if Holy Day insets are needed.
The eleven Bahá’í Holy Days are distinguished with insets color-coded for the Báb (green), Bahá’u’lláh (red), and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (blue). Five special month/day wedges represent the Intercalary Days (Ayyám-i-Há)
Each of the nineteen month medallions have the English and Arabic months’ names and “earth,” “air,” “fire,” or “water” inscribed on them, as assigned by the Báb in the Persian Bayán. According to Nader Saiedi (Gate of the Heart: Understanding the Writings of the Báb 328), “The first three months represent the fire of God; the next four, the air of eternity; the following six, the water of Divine Unity; and the last six, the sacred realm of the earth.”
The beautifully carved month/day wedges include English, Arabic, and associated numbers on one side. On the other side is a brightly painted design with neither words nor numbers. The colors mimic the colors, all favored by the artist, used in the stained-glass skylight
The wood (black walnut, walnut, black cherry, and basswood) from which the calendar is made came from Frances’ yard. The calendar, which measures 24 inches x 1 inch, is mounted on a turntable.
Mike Foster of Steep Falls, Maine (firstname.lastname@example.org), handcrafted the puzzle, using a laser engraver to inscribe the words, numbers, and designs. Heather MacLeod of Brownfield, Maine (email@example.com) designed and painted it.