Storybook Series

Stories – folk tales, legends, fairy tales – are part of cultural heritage too. And just like buildings, statues, languages and customs, they can be lost.

If for any reason a country loses its normality for one or two generations – because of war or a refugee crisis, for example – they can also lose the stories that were part of their culture for millennia. That’s because the typical conveyance of such stories is oral, with grandparents and parents telling them to their children.

Everywhere. Young or old, from Ice Age caves to Hollywood, human beings need stories.

Our Storybook Series shares selected tales from the countries where we have our projects. But more than that, we want to encourage people to remember and record the favorite stories of their communities for all of us to enjoy.

Fairy Tales from the Silk Road

The Carpet Weaver Girl & the Prince

Once upon a time in the city of Ghazni there lived a handsome young prince named Bahram. Prince Bahram liked to disguise himself as an ordinary citizen, sneak out of his palace and roam around the city to hear what people were saying and to understand what life was really like for his subjects. He knew that his father’s advisors always painted a rosy picture, telling him that everything was wonderful and everyone was happy. In his case, too, as soon as people discovered who he was, they became afraid to tell him bad news and would instead flatter him by telling him how much everyone loved his father. But by mingling anonymously in the crowd, he could get a true picture of how the average people lived, whether they had enough food for their families, and what they thought of their ruler.


Afghan fairytale told by Hamid Naweed, illustrations by Murat Palta.

One day, on a gloomy cloudy late afternoon, an elderly hunter and his granddaughter went out into the meadows hoping to find some roots or berries to eat, or a wild rabbit or a bird to catch, but they had no luck. After hours of searching, the old hunter decided to give up and go home before it got dark. But just then Healla, the hunter’s granddaughter, gave an excited shout and pointed to the sky:
“Look! Grandfather, what is that beautiful bright thing flying over the fields?”
. . .

To read the full story, support our work by purchasing the children’s book we will publish soon. Below you can find a selection of excerpts of the book’s full page illustrations by artist Murat Palta:

Event at the Smithsonian Sackler Gallery

Reading Musiqar in Dari and English with Atia Jewayni and Sophia Schultz

Event coordinated with Turquoise Mountain

August 2016

Pictures and Videos taken by Khatol Shahnan 

Download Musiqar Coloring Sheet

Coloring Sheet Storybookseries

Meet one of our illustrators, Charlotte Benard

Born August 1924 in the historic ninth district of Vienna, Austria. When she was two years old, her parents opened a restaurant in a popular resort town and wine drinking area on the outskirts of Vienna, where little Charlotte became the coddled pet of the guests. She was not a shy child and loved the attention. It was nice to have those good years to remember, because very dark times of dictatorship and war were soon to follow. Charlotte’s life’s goal was to become an artist, she was good at drawing and painting. She loved the fountains outside the Hofburg and dreamed of being a sculptor. She applied to the Academy of Arts and was accepted, but students were required to first fulfill military service (support services in the case of young women) for the Nazi army, which she refused to do. After the war she fell in love with and married an American soldier, with whom she lived in Salzburg, New Orleans, Munich and Albuquerque. In Vienna and Munich, she witnessed the rebuilding of cities that had been severely damaged by the war, and one of the tiles on the roof of St. Stephen belongs to her – sponsoring a tile was part of the fundraising drive for the restoration of the ancient cathedral. Later she worked for the McGeorge School of Law’s University of the Pacific in Salzburg and Budapest. She is completing a book about the experience of growing up during the totalitarian era of a country and its decline into genocide and war, titled The Dictator’s Promise.

During the war years I learned that you can live without bread but you can’t live without hope. And it might sound strange, but the great age of Vienna with its layers of history from the Middle Ages and earlier, gave us hope that our country would survive this.