French shoppers go nuts for Nutella discount

The French supermarket chain usually sells Nutella for €4.50 but with the discount jars were going for just €1.41. (AFP)
Updated 26 January 2018
0

French shoppers go nuts for Nutella discount

STRASBOURG, France: A French supermarket chain’s decision to slash the price of Nutella by 70 percent has sparked frenzy, with shoppers across the country jostling to squirrel away as many jars of the nutty spread as possible in what one worker likened to an orgy.
Video posted online Thursday and testimony from baffled supermarket workers showed long queues forming outside Intermarche supermarkets and chaotic scenes as bargain hunters stormed inside.
“People just rushed in, shoving everyone, breaking things. It was like an orgy,” one employee in the northeastern town of Forbach said, asking to remain anonymous. “We were on the verge of calling the police.”
Another employee in Revigny-sur-Ornain said it was no wonder there was a run on the shelves: “70 percent off? That’s a steal.”
When contacted by AFP, Intermarche apologized to its customers and said it had been “surprised” by the sheer demand.
The chain usually sells Nutella for €4.50 but with the discount jars were going for just €1.41.
Netizens reacted with much merriment over the furor.
“Seriously??!! All this just for Nutella” posted Kenny Le Bon (@KennyLeBon) on Twitter alongside a video of a crowd of shoppers scrambling over a rapidly depleting stand of jars.
“Was gonna get some Sunday. But I don’t wanna die,” added Ruthii Trudie (@ruthii_rawr).
Ferrero, the Italian company that makes Nutella, said the discount decision was taken “unilaterally” by Intermarche and risked creating “confusion and disappointment” for consumers.


Rare silk Qur’an helps preserve Afghanistan’s cultural heritage

Updated 23 May 2018
0

Rare silk Qur’an helps preserve Afghanistan’s cultural heritage

  • Each of the Islamic holy book’s 610 pages was produced by hand in a painstaking process that took a team of 38 calligraphers and artists specializing in miniatures nearly two years to finish
  • Turquoise Mountain began work in 2006 in Kabul with the aim of preserving ancient Afghan craftsmanship, including ceramics, carpentry and calligraphy

KABUL: One of the only Qur’ans ever made from silk fabric has been completed in Afghanistan — a feat its creators hope will help preserve the country’s centuries-old tradition of calligraphy.
Each of the Islamic holy book’s 610 pages was produced by hand in a painstaking process that took a team of 38 calligraphers and artists specializing in miniatures nearly two years to finish.
Bound in goat leather and weighing 8.6 kilograms, the Qur’an was produced by Afghan artisans, many of them trained at British foundation Turquoise Mountain in Kabul.
“Our intention was to ensure that calligraphy does not die out in this country — writing is part of our culture,” Khwaja Qamaruddin Chishti, a 66-year-old master calligrapher, said in a cramped office inside Turquoise Mountain’s labyrinthine mud-brick and wood-paneled complex.
With the Qur’an considered a sacred text, calligraphy is highly venerated in Islam and Islamic art.
“When it comes to art we cannot put a price on it. God has entrusted us with this work (the Qur’an) ... and this means more to us than the financial aspect,” Chishti continued.
Using a bamboo or reed ink pen, Chishti and his fellow calligraphers spent up to two days carefully copying Qur’anic verses onto a single page — sometimes longer if they made a mistake and had to start again.
They used the Naskh script, a calligraphic style developed in early Islam to replace Kufic because it was easier to read and write.
The decoration around the script, known as illumination, was more time-consuming, each page taking more than a week to complete.
A team of artists used paint made from natural materials, including ground lapis, gold and bronze, to recreate the delicate patterns popular during the Timurid dynasty in the 15th and 16th centuries in the western city of Herat.
“All the colors we have used are from nature,” Mohammad Tamim Sahibzada, a master miniature artist who was responsible for creating the vibrant colors used in the Qur’an, said.
Sahibzada said working on silk fabric for the first time was challenging. The locally sourced material — all 305 meters (1,000 feet) of it — was treated in a solution made from the dried seeds of ispaghula, or psyllium, to stop the ink from spreading.
Turquoise Mountain began work in 2006 in Kabul with the aim of preserving ancient Afghan craftsmanship, including ceramics, carpentry and calligraphy.
It hopes the silk Qur’an will generate demand for more handmade Islamic religious texts that could create employment for its artisans and help finance the institute.
“We will show it to other Islamic countries to see if it is possible to create job opportunities for graduates to work on another Qur’an,” said Abdul Waheed Khalili, the organization’s Afghan director.
For now, it will be kept in a specially made hand-carved walnut wooden box to protect its delicate pages from the elements at Turquoise Mountain’s offices, which are in the restored Murad Khani, a historic commercial and residential area in Kabul’s oldest district.
There Turquoise Mountain has trained thousands of artisans with the support of Britain’s Prince Charles, the British Council, and USAID.
“The copying of the Qur’an onto silk is very rare,” country director Nathan Stroupe said.
He said the project has been “an amazing way to train our students at an incredibly high level in a very traditional type of work.”
“If a book collector in London... was interested in it, we would be thinking in the $100,000 to $200,000 (price) range,” he added.