Stone Carving

Here is a memorial completed, after two years work, by the stone-carving ustad shown in the other photographs. It is simply gorgeous, but normally languishes under a grubby green baize cloth in a small, dark and locked shrine. However, my ustad friend proudly took me on a trip to let me admire it. [C.S.5]

Stone Carving

This photograph shows exactly how the ustad grips his chisel (screwdriver blade) and hammer. This requires strong and flexible fingers – I got tired and stiff, when I tried for a few hours. [C.S.4]

Stone Carving

These are the most important tools of the stonemason restorer: the paper design copied or derived from motifs left on the memorial; adhesive tape and carbon paper to help transfer patterns; various hammers; and screwdriver blades for use as chisels. The design has been traced onto the ‘artificial stone’ on the top of the memorial, …

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Stone Carving

Here, the ustad (master craftsman) is adding more small pieces of the ‘artificial stone’ to smaller defects in the memorial. Unusually, this ustad is a young man – most are much older, and the limited interest from younger apprentices means that many traditional skills are at risk of being lost. [C.S.2]

Stone Carving

This damaged stone memorial, in Ardabil, is being restored by one of only seven appropriately skilled stone-carvers in Iran. He first makes ‘artificial stone’ (top and corner), using ground up stone similar to the original, plus various stabilisers. [C.S.1]

Blinkin’ Obvious

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Here are my eyes: looking in at some of the many eye diagnoses I have – and looking out at some of the gorgeous splendid amazing things I’ve seen. Before my eyes changed, that is. Im visually impaired – I can’t see bus numbers or street signs – or even my friends in the street. …

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Polo in Isfahan

Polo in Isfahan used to be a big thing. The maydan at the centre of today’s city was originally an out-of-town garden. Then when Shah Abbas visited in 1590, he ordered it levelled and spread with river sand, to convert it into a polo field. In 1595, a French steward called Pinçon saw how: “The King of Persia …

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