‘Homeland’ star Mandy Patinkin pleads for refugees

Mandy Patinkin
Updated 14 February 2018
0

‘Homeland’ star Mandy Patinkin pleads for refugees

LOS ANGELES: Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor Mandy Patinkin used his Walk of Fame star-dedicating ceremony in Hollywood Monday to make an impassioned speech calling for respect and dignity for refugees.
The 65-year-old Chicago native, best known for playing CIA operative Saul Berenson in Showtime spy drama “Homeland,” welcomed an Iraqi refugee to the event and implored the crowd to recognize the plight of the dispossessed.
“I want you to think about these people, who are the most vulnerable among us all over the world, who need our attention, more attention than you can imagine, so that they can have quality lives and bring their children up in a healthy, not war-torn, atmosphere and grow and live and prosper,” he said.
Patinkin, whose grandfather fled the Nazis in German-occupied Poland, and whose grandmother escaped the Russian pogroms, has traveled extensively to witness the plight of displaced people since going to Greece in 2015 to help refugees from war-torn Syria.
He said noticing the ethnic diversity of the US squad at the Winter Olympics in South Korea had reminded him of the contribution immigrants had made to the country.
“They are our heroes and our athletes for all time. They represent us,” he went on.
“Let us learn to welcome other immigrants without fear, without worry, and learn to trust them and not be guided by fear. They are our teachers.”
He told AFP afterwards he felt privileged to be a voice for “those who have no voice, the refugees who are suffering.”
“I think the whole world needs to do more. These are human beings. Take care of your neighbors (as) you would take care of yourself,” he said.


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.