eL Seed’s New Scripts – Interview by Johnny Hanson for ARAMCO WORLD

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EL SEED SPOKE BY PHONE
FROM HIS DUBAI STUDIO
Let’s start with “calligraffiti.” There are quite a few artists who do it now. Did you coin the term?
No, to be honest with you, this is a term that has been used the first time in New York for a show, I think in ’84. A show created by Jeffrey Deitch for some calligraphy artists and some graffiti artists from New York. He had this vision 30 years ago that calligraphy and graffiti would merge together. To be honest with you, me today, I don’t even use this word to define myself. I’m just using calligraphy in my artwork. I do sculpture, I do canvases, I do art installations. I’m trying to get out of the box that I think I used to be in a few years ago.
elSeed
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More: http://www.aramcoworld.com/en-US/Articles/July-2017/eL-Seed-s-New-Scripts

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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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