Afghan calligrapher unveils world's largest Koran

The 2.28m-high book took five years to create, nod to Afghanistan’s cultural heritage
Afghan calligrapher unveils world's largest Koran
The book has been certified as the worlds biggest Koran
By Reuters
Wed 18 Jan 2012 04:44 PM

An Afghan calligrapher has worked for five years to create
the world's biggest Koran, a bid to show the world that Afghanistan's rich
cultural heritage and traditions have been damaged but not destroyed by 30
years of war.

The lavish book has pages 2.28m by 1.55m in size, and has
been certified as the world's largest by the Afghan ministry of Haj and
Religious Affairs, according to the Kabul cultural centre that houses it.

The previous claim to the title was for a 2m by 1.5m copy
unveiled last year in Russia's Tatarstan region.

The Afghan Koran weighs 500kg and its 218 pages of cloth and
paper, bound inside an embossed leather cover made from the skins of 21 goats,
cost half a million dollars to create.

Mohammad Sabir Khedri, the master calligrapher behind the
project, worked with nine students on a design that combines gold script with
millions of tiny colourful dots, forming highly symbolic decorations around the
giant pages.

"I wanted to use as many tasteful colours as possible
to make this holy book look beautiful," he said, standing beside his
enormous creation in a room built specially to house it.

Khedri not only created the masterpiece, he managed to keep
it a secret for over two years. It was finished in 2009, but the binding and
room to house it were not ready until the start of 2012, when it was finally
unveiled.

The Koran is housed in a cultural centre originally founded
in the 1980s, and once home to 50,000 books, a medical centre, and schools for
Afghan crafts such as carpet weaving.

All of that was destroyed in during the civil war that
followed the 1989 withdrawal of Soviet troops, and the harsh Taliban rule from
1996.

But its founder revived the centre after the 2001 ouster of
the hardline government, and his daughter - member of parliament Farkhunda
Zahra Naderi - now also helps support its work and manages a much smaller
library.

"The cultural centre is proud that it provided this
opportunity for an Afghan artist to actually show his talent to the world...We
have Afghan people who show the positive aspect of Islam," Naderi said.

The giant Koran was her father's dream and a project he
devoted himself to for years, Naderi said.

"Writing the Koran is one privilege, and...of course if
you can make the biggest Koran everyone wants to do it, because they want to
show the feeling they have, the biggest feeling inside their heart,"
Naderi said of the project.

But as a devout Muslim, calligrapher Khedri said he would
welcome ceding his moment in the spotlight to an even larger Koran made by
someone else.

"I will be happier if someone else makes a bigger
Koran, it is serving Islam," he said with a smile.

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