A calligraphy scroll by former Chinese leader Mao Zedong estimated to be worth millions of dollars was cut in half after it was stolen last month in a high-profile burglary in Hong Kong, police said.
The scroll was found damaged when police arrested a 49-year-old man in late September on suspicion of handling stolen property. The South China Morning Post, quoting an unidentified police source, reported that the scroll was cut in two by a buyer who had purchased it for 500 Hong Kong dollars ($65) and had believed the scroll to be counterfeit.
“According to our investigation, someone thought that the calligraphy was too long,” Tony Ho, senior superintendent of the police Organized Crime and Triad Bureau, said at a news conference Tuesday. “It was difficult to show it, to display it, and that’s why it was cut in half.”
Police said the scroll was part of a multimillion-dollar theft by three burglars from collector Fu Chunxiao’s apartment in September. Fu, who is well known for his collection of stamps and revolutionary art, was in mainland China at the time of the burglary and has not been in Hong Kong since January because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The burglars took 24,000 Chinese postage stamps, 10 coins and seven calligraphy scrolls from Fu’s apartment, where he stored his collections. Fu estimated that the Mao calligraphy was worth about $300 million and that the theft totaled about $645 million. No independent appraisals of the collections were available.
Police have arrested three men in relation to the burglary and on suspicion of providing assistance to criminals. At least two people connected to the burglary are still at large, Ho said.
Although some of the stolen items have been found, the 24,000 stamps and six other calligraphy scrolls have not been recovered, police said.
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Faruq Mahfuz Anam James, popularly called as the 'Nagar Baul James' and 'Guru' by the audiences of rock music in Bangladesh, turned 56 on Friday - and fans showered the rock icon with immense respect and love throughout the nation and social media platforms.
The National Award winning artist, also the frontman of his iconic rock band 'Nagar Baul' (formerly known as 'Feelings'), has cemented his legacy to his fans since the late 80's and till date fans eagerly await to celebrate the birthday of the rock legend.
As the pandemic is ongoing, James celebrated his birthday eve and the rest of the day with his family members at home - however, his fans around the nation celebrated the day with pouring tribute to their beloved icon.
'Guru James er Dushtu Chheler Dol', the largest fan-group of James in Bangladesh, has arranged a special programme on Friday at the Nirob Hotel in Old Dhaka's Nazimuddin Road, where they cut the birthday cake and arranged prayers for the well-being of the rock-star.
Similar programmes arranged all over the country by James fans, who shared photographs and emotional posts in the social media platforms regarding their celebrations and memories of attending his concerts. Also, other music artists and celebrities have posted their tribute to James on their social media accounts.
"When I wrote my novel 'Asman' in which I narrated the journey of a young man who becomes a rock-star in the 90's, I did not have you in my imagination - yet when I completed, I was mesmerized to explore the similarities. I am immensely proud of you, and I have grown up as a lyricist with you. Love you, James bhai", eminent lyricist Latiful Islam Shibli, the wordsmith behind many iconic and popular songs of James such as 'Jail Theke Bolchhi', wrote on his Facebook.
Born in 1964 in Naogaon at Rajshahi, James was brought up in Chittagong due to his father Mojammel Haque's work who later became the Chairman of the Dhaka Education Board. His family did not approve his wish to become a music artist, thus he left home in 1976 and started living in Aziz Boarding in Pahartali, Chittagong.
Without the approval of his family, James started his profound journey in music in his youth during the late 70's. He formed his band 'Feelings' in 1977 as the vocal and lead guitarist, and released the band's first album 'Station Road' in 1987. The band was later renamed as 'Nagar Baul', a moniker that James has also adopted as the music artist.
Besides the other two companions, LRB and ARK in the 'Big Three of Bangladeshi Rock' in the 90's era in Bangladeshi music industry, James garnered immense popularity among fans all over the world with his versatile style in psychedelic rock. He has also established his legacy as a solo artist and a successful playback singer in both Dhallywood and Bollywood. In 2006, he debuted in Bollywood as a playback singer in Anurag Basu's film 'Gangstar', and his journey in Bollywood was continued with three other films - 'Woh Lamhe' (2006), 'Life... in a Metro' (2007) and 'Warning' (2013).
In his motherland, James received Bangladesh National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer twice for the films 'Desha: The Leader' (2014) and 'Swatta' (2017). As a solo artist, he has released a total of 8 albums and many mixed album with renowned artists of Bangladesh.
'Taray Taray Rotiye Debo' (penned by legendary poet Shamsur Rahman), 'Maa', 'Bangladesh', 'Pagla Hawaa', 'Dushtu Chheler Dol', 'Guru Ghor Banaila Ki Diya', 'Mirabai' etc. are some of James's iconic Bengali rock numbers that cemented his legacy as 'Guru' to his fans in all over the world.
James has also proved his versatility in other mediums as a photographer and media entrepreneur. He is the Founder and Chairman of the board of renowned Bangladeshi production house Red Dot Entertainment.
Zayed Siddiki’s ‘Purnograsher Kal’ (Tale of An Ecliptic Time) is scheduled to have its world premiere at 7pm on Thursday at country’s first pay-per-view movie OTT platform Lagvelki.
Co-written by Helal Mohiuddin and Zayed Siddiki, the short-film portrays allegoric defeat of terrorism and fundamentalism to the spirit, conscience and knowledge of novelty.
It shows how youths are getting dragged into terrorism, their gradual attraction towards militancy and terrorist activities to fall for fake heroism shattering their future, according to the director.
The film also visualises the psychological instability of an artist because of global terrorism, war and his confrontation with militants. “The film portrays that the young people are driven into militancy for the benefits of a few who spread fundamentalism, which is nothing but miserable for humanity and peace,” Zayed said.
Veteran actor Jayanta Chattopadhyay is the protagonist. He is playing the character of a progressive writer and painter who carries a strong message against fundamentalism and militancy.
The short film screened at 15 international film festivals in six countries and grabbed three awards including Grand Jury Prize at Peace Film Festival 2019. It was recently screened at Peace Day Events in Winnipeg jointly organised by Rotary Club of Winnipeg and Conflict and Resilience Research Institute Canada (CRRIC).
Zayed Siddiki is an aspiring Bangladeshi new generation filmmaker based in Dhaka. He obtained an MA in Television and Film Studies from the University of Dhaka, and has been writing-directing short fiction and documentaries for over a decade.
He is currently making his first feature film ‘Silence of the Words’ which is an adaptation of a story from Hasan Azizul Haque.
‘Colourkite, ‘Lives Behind Garbage’, ‘Dream Lithe’, ‘Disappearing Artisans’ are some of his past films which have been screened, invited, competed and awarded in several national and international film festivals.
‘Purnograsher Kal’ is presented by Cinemotion and Baraka Power and produced by Homo Reflector Production. Anyone can view the film at www.lagvelki.com for a digital payment of Tk 100 and the film will be available for the next six months.
German language school and cultural organization Gothe-Institut Bangladesh has launched a funding initiative titled “Futures beyond the Self” for all Bangladeshi artists/artistes, art collectives, cultural activists, and cultural organizations for their innovative projects.
According to the institution, the initiative seeks to provide a space for new ideas to flourish and for continued societal and collective engagements, as well as to support both individuals and collectives in their endeavour to reflect, critique, and suggest alternative futures and pathways of “being in the world”.
The offer is applicable for but not limited to all individually or collectively practicing visual artists, writers, choreographers, photographers, film makers, performers, media artists, musicians, mime artists, cultural journalists, cultural educators, cultural activists and more, who need to apply for getting the respective project proposal funded under “Futures beyond the Self”.
A jury of artists and cultural activists together with representatives of the Goethe-Institut Bangladesh will review all applications and select the projects to be supported by the Goethe-Institut Bangladesh.
The criteria for the selection of a specific project proposal is based on factors such as the originality of the project idea; the artistic and creative as well as academic excellence, the clarity of the theme, objectives and formats, matching budget plan, realistic evidence of working in the field of art, research, or learning for at least three years and previous experience implementing or participating in public art projects and shows.
The Goethe-Institut Bangladesh will award several projects within the total fund of 5 lakh under the “Futures beyond the Self” initiative, while each of the projects and applicants can apply for support for their projects of up to 70,000 BDT.
Duly filled application form in PDF format including a detailed budget for the project implementation along with a CV has to be sent via email on or before October 5, 2020 at firstname.lastname@example.org. Goethe-Institut Bangladesh will communicate the results of all successful and unsuccessful applications to the respective artists via email after 15 October 15, 2020. All projects have to be fully implemented by December 10, 2020.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed an elaborate and lavish marriage tradition in Indian-controlled Kashmir within months that had remained virtually unaltered for centuries.
As Kashmir's wedding season sets in, the normally lavish celebrations have been drastically downsized.
Instead of three days of feasting, elaborate rituals and huge gatherings are gone. Now the ceremonies are attended by a small number of close relatives and neighbours.
With restrictions in place and many weddings canceled, the traditional master chefs have little or no work.
Months before the pandemic, Haseeb Mushtaq drew up a guest list of hundreds and grand plans for celebrating his wedding in May.
But then the pandemic blocked him from traveling home for his wedding from Dubai, where he has an engineering job. When he finally arrived home for his postponed wedding in September, he could only invite about a hundred people, mostly from his extended family and close friends.
“Marriage is a once-in-a-lifetime affair and I feel really bad that we couldn’t invite most of our relatives, friends and neighbours,” Haseeb said at the ceremony.
“The hardest part was deciding whom to invite and whom not.”
Still, Haseeb considers himself lucky. One of his friends working in Saudi Arabia was unable to travel home for his own marriage and had to delay it until next year.
Wazwan: A centuries old tradition
Kashmiris normally hold elaborate marriage feasts, with meals cooked over firewood through the night by chiefs called “wazas.”
Hundreds of guests are invited for lunch and dinner and served up to 30-course meals.
The feast is called “wazwan.”
The peculiarity of a wazwan is that every part of a lamb, except the hide, head and hooves, is used for making different dishes.
Groups of four diners squat around large copper platters heaped with rice and various mutton and chicken dishes. More dishes are served by the chefs, dressed in crisp white baggy trousers and tunics.
The wazwan tradition is so entrenched across all classes in Kashmir that awareness of the wastage of high-quality food has not produced any restraint. Numerous attempts by social groups and the government have failed to instill any significant austerity in the food.
However, the pandemic has largely achieved that in a matter of months.
Wedding ceremonies require prior permission from the authorities, and guest limits and social distancing are mandatory.
Most feasts are restricted to 10 dishes and the chefs are advised to wear protective suits and gloves.
‘Small, saddening change’
Health officials say 63,990 coronavirus cases have been reported in the region through September 20, including 1,001 deaths.
For master chef Ghulam Qadir and his team of over three dozen cooks, the pandemic has caused his earnings to be badly hit for the second straight year.
Last year, India suddenly scrapped disputed Kashmir’s statehood in August and imposed an unprecedented security clampdown, creating economic disaster and the cancellation of most wedding celebrations.
Qadir said the pandemic has posed another challenge to the cooks — keeping themselves and guests safe while cooking and serving the marriage feasts.
“It is sad to see our hundreds of years of tradition changing in few months due to the pandemic. We used to eat from one big platter and now we have a small plate for each guest,” Bashir Ahmed said at a relative’s marriage party. “It looks like a small change, but this kind of change saddens me.”