Romancing the Tome: Love in Illustrated Persian Manuscripts by Sâqib Bâburî From the British Library Blog

For anyone inspired by celebrations of St Valentine’s day, Persian literature has much to offer. Whether it be platonic adoration, romantic affection, or star-crossed disappointment, Persian poetry, in particular, has something to say about it. With a written tradition stretching over a millennium, much of it still preserved in manuscripts; we explore here a few select examples of epic and romantic compositions from the British Library’s growing collection of digitised Persian manuscripts available online to observe wonderful and alternative responses to love, physical and spiritual.

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More: http://blogs.bl.uk/asian-and-african/2017/02/romancing-the-tome-love-in-illustrated-persian-manuscripts.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+asian-and-african+%28Asia+and+Africa%29

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Open Call for Submissions from Muslim Writers

Like so many of you, we are gravely alarmed by the present administration’s recent broad ban on refugees and immigrants from Muslim countries. Our hearts ache for the innocent people affected. We also fear the message sent by these bans to people within our country and to those outside of our borders. But we are also heartened by the immediate and widespread opposition these bans have met. And we’d like to do our part!

Literary agents are in a unique position to help contribute to bringing more empathy, compassion, understanding and tolerance into this world through books. We seek out unheard voices so that others can hear them.

We are a group of literary agents having an open call for book submissions by Muslim writers. We all agree that the current political climate demands a need for a greater presence of authors of Muslim heritage in the book marketplace. We are taking action to help make that happen.

Here are instructions for submitting writers of Muslim heritage: (Please note that we cannot respond to queries under the Open Call that do not fit our Muslim heritage criteria)

Source: Open Call for Submissions from Muslim Writers

Cracking Coconut’s History Written by Ramin Ganeshram From ARAMCO WORLD

For thousands of years, the coconut palm has entwined itself in history, from tropical coasts to typical shelves in global groceries. Called the “tree of life” by the many cultures that have depended upon it through time, it provides sustenance, succour and shelter. While it now grows on every subtropical coastline around the world, genetic testing underwritten by the National Geographic Society in 2011 showed the coconut originated in India and Southeast Asia. From its original home,  the nut—which can float—made its way independently, traversing both hemispheres. 

But historians also agree that coconuts travelled at the hands of men, and it was most likely seafaring Arab traders who carried coconuts from India to East Africa as much as 2,000 years ago. Even the name they conferred on the fruit— zhawzhat al-hind, which means “walnut of India”—survives in Arabic today.

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BIBLIOTECA ESTENSE / BRIDGEMAN IMAGES

The cocuruto (“crown of the head” in Portuguese), from which the South Asian drupe takes its modern name, was hinted at in the illustration at left printed in a 15th-century edition of Dioscorides’s Tractatus De Herbis; the merchant’s scales allude to the coconut’s value in Europe.

These mariners encountered coconuts as they traded with their Indian counterparts who sailed small, nimble dhows, coast-hugging boats made from teak or coconut-wood planking lashed together with coconut fibre (coir). The dhow was adopted by Arab merchant mariners themselves, and the boats continue to be made today, but with modern materials.

These same traders also introduced coconuts to Europeans, first along the trans-Asian Silk Roads. Among them was the Venetian adventurer Marco Polo, who encountered the tree in Egypt in the 13th century, calling its fruit “the Pharaoh’s nut.”

Beginning in the early 16th century, the coconut came to Europe through the “maritime Silk Road” following explorer-colonizers like Vasco da Gama, who pursued a direct trade route between Portugal and India, guided by maps and navigational information charted by the famed Arab navigator Ahmad ibn Majid a half century before.

From da Gama and other Portuguese traders came the coconut’s contemporary and most recognised international name: They called it coco-nut because it resembled a cocuruto, or skull, with three dots on its ends like two eyes and a mouth and coconut fibers that resembled hair.

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G. DAGLI ORTI / BRIDGEMAN IMAGES

Carried much earlier by Arab traders into Mesopotamia, a coconut palm was depicted in a bas-relief, in the Aleppo Archaeological Museum.
More: http://www.aramcoworld.com/en-US/Articles/January-2017/Cracking-Coconut-s-History

 

(Interview) Yazan Halwani: Uniting The City.

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action_shot_yazan_halwani/Photos: Yazan Halwani (private album)/

Although he’s only in his twenties, Yazan Halwani is a name you will hear a lot in Beirut. For the last couple of years his work is among the most notable ones when it comes to Arab street art. Halwani has adorned walls of Beirut (and cities all over the world) with portraits of the writer Khalil Gibran and legendary singers Fairuz and Sabah, as well as everyday local heroes like Ali Abdullah, a homeless man who died one winter’s night in 2013 and Fares, a 12-year-old flower seller from Hamra street.

I meet Halwani in a quiet cafe in Gemmayzeh, a vibrant area of cafes and small shops in downtown Beirut. He’s relaxed and easygoing, with a big smile on his face, and remains of paint on his fingers. We move from topic to topic, he speeks with ease and eloquence. We talk about…

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