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Volume 48, Number 2 March/April 1997

In This Issue

March/April 1997
Africa's Compassionate Eye
Written by Louis Werner

Mohamed Amin called himself "a commuter" between worlds, but the high-revving photojournalist was far more than that. In dozens of books, thousands of photographs and hundreds of thousands of minutes of video, he presented and interpreted the cultures of Africa and Islam to Western readers and television viewers, creating channels for understanding and compassion.

The Cardamom Connection
Written by Larry Luxner
Photographed by Piet Van Lier

All across the Arabian Peninsula, heady, luxurious cardamom-flavored coffee is a symbol of that most important Arab virtue, hospitality. Traditionally imported from India, most of Arabia's cardamom now comes from Guatemala, a country that uses none of the parrot-green pods itself, but has become the world's largest supplier of this essential ingredient in Arabian kitchens.

Letter, Word, Art
Written by Lee Adair Lawrence

Modern art from the Muslim world often includes an element rare in the West: writing. The director of Jordan's National Gallery of Fine Arts believes there is a "calligraphic school" of art, born of the traditional Arab focus on the word, that uses letters, words and even poetry as visual elements, as devices for conveying meaning from artist to viewer, and as an evocation of Islamic identity.

The Silver Ship
Written by Arthur Clark

Under a mile and a half of water, three million silver Saudi riyals lay for 50 years on the seafloor off Oman, sunk with the rest of the cargo of a World War II Liberty ship bound for Dhahran. Was the John Barry also carrying $26 million worth of silver bullion when she went down? A high-tech salvage effort has recovered about half the coins, but the mystery remains.

These Stitches Speak
Written by Jane M. Friedman
Photographed by Bassel H. Sakkab

One of the most beautiful aspects of Palestinian material culture is its embroidery, which illuminates clothing and household items, and whose patterns and techniques often pinpoint where a piece was made. To preserve this fading art, and the history it represents, a Palestinian-American couple has built a collection that is both a monument, and a hope for the future.