Lifestyle & CultureMosaic Art

Mona Lisa of Mosul — A captivating mosaic artwork that will last for 1000s of years

(3 min read) So we’ve officially made a considerable step into a new decade, and what a first step it was… I suppose we were too quick to think that we will leave all of the difficult things behind, so some other things had to happen to remind us how fragile and in need of love all of us really are. one of the things that remain and that will stand as the beacon of light and reason through the most difficult of times in human history is art and the most durable of all — mosaic art. Wars will burn it, floods will drown it, hatred and stupidity will try to damage it, but mosaic art will always BE once again, revived and whole like it always was. Through the earliest days of human civilization, it was used to capture and depict the rawest of images and emotions, and it still has the same purpose to this day.

The famous Mona Lisa of Mosul photograph made into an eternal Mosaic Art masterpiece.
The famous photograph of Sheba was taken by the war photographer Ali Al-Fahdawi. Copyright © Ali Al-Fahdawi.

You’ve probably seen this heartbreaking picture before while scrolling one or the other social network homepage or feed. This smile cracked through the dark sadness of war was captured by the war photographer Ali Al-Fahdawi. He was on the front battle lines during the raging war between the Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants in Iraq.

The making of Mona Lisa of Mosul Mosaic artwork by Mosaics Lab
The making of the mosaic by the skillful hands of Dany Shas. Mosaic Artwork — Copyright © Mosaics Lab.

Near Badush he encountered Sheba and her family. They were running towards him and his comrades, away from the bombs and terrors. Al-Fahdawi saw her crying and when she looked back at him, he smiled a little and she smiled back. The most human gesture of them all — a little cramp of the facial muscles that can speak volumes when needed. That is when this picture was taken.

The making of the captivating Mona Lisa of Mosul Mosaic design by Mosaics Lab
The making of Mona Lisa of Mosul. Mosaic Design — Copyright © Mosaics Lab.


The beautiful Mona Lisa of Mosul Mosaic design by Mosaics Lab
That beautiful face eternalized in marble. Custom Mosaic Art — Copyright © Mosaics Lab.

The captivating Mosaic masterpiece of Mona Lisa of Mosul by Mosaics Lab
The heartbreakingly captivating masterpiece. Mosaic Art Portrait — Copyright © Mosaics Lab.

A little smile through dust and soot and tears. A little ray of light and hope through cries and explosions and shots. A token of humanity in the sea of horror and pain. Captured first as a photograph and then captured by our mosaic artist Dany Shas to last for eternity as a mosaic artwork. Because we should never forget. Never ever.

The mosaic making of the Mona Lisa of Mosul. Mosaic Art Portrait — Copyright © Mosaics Lab.

I know many of you wonder what the epilogue of this story is and I’m glad that I can tell you it is a hopeful one. The famous Mona Lisa of Mosul whose smile moved the world and touched the hearts of millions eventually found her way back home. Al-Fahdawi tried to find her for three years and he finally succeeded in September of 2019. He met her again after she returned to her home in Mosul. Her house was partly demolished by the shelling, but her face remained the face of a survivor, and that’s all that matters.

The face of a survivor
The face of the survivor. Image Source AFP.

Some images should always be around simply because it is beautiful and some should always be around to remind us that we are yet to become the best versions of ourselves. As long as there are children crying in despair somewhere in the world, we are yet to become the best humans we can be.


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M. Belosh

M. Belosh

Passionate art enthusiast; avid reader (you can find me on Goodreads under the same name); movie connoisseur; intolerable before my morning coffee.

24 Comments

  1. Neely Moldovan
    January 13, 2021 at 3:45 pm — Reply

    OH wow what an interesting piece. So fun to learn more about it!

  2. Amber Myers
    January 13, 2021 at 4:04 pm — Reply

    Oh wow, this is amazing. I loved seeing how it was created.

  3. Cynthia
    January 13, 2021 at 7:37 pm — Reply

    wow! This is incredible! I’ve never seen how something like this is done. How wonderful!

  4. Emily Terrell
    January 13, 2021 at 7:58 pm — Reply

    This is so heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once. War can be so ugly, but then you see little gems from those who have not lost themselves to it. The mosaic is absolutely stunning! An incredible likeness.

  5. Stephanie
    January 13, 2021 at 10:25 pm — Reply

    I actually had not seen this photo before, but it’s both a striking photo and mosaic. And how awesome that the photographer was able to go back and find her years later.

  6. Norma
    January 13, 2021 at 11:59 pm — Reply

    This is so beautiful! I love how the picture was turned into a mosaic. I would love to have the mosaic of the Mona Lisa of Mosul.

  7. Maartje van Sandwijk
    January 14, 2021 at 5:34 am — Reply

    That is absolutely amazing! It almost looks like a picture instead of a mosaic!

  8. Cristina Petrini
    January 14, 2021 at 5:42 am — Reply

    A historical photo full of strength and meaning, however I loved being able to delve into the story behind it thanks to your article. Thanks!

  9. Krysten Quiles
    January 14, 2021 at 6:09 am — Reply

    I cannot get over how absolutely beautiful this is, thank you for sharing this with us.

  10. Kiwi
    January 14, 2021 at 8:28 am — Reply

    Wow that mosaic is amazing. The work that was put in was thrilling to look at and a true work of Art!

  11. Ceci Rey
    January 14, 2021 at 9:27 am — Reply

    This is just incredible…love it! 👜👓🍕

  12. Marjie Mare
    January 14, 2021 at 10:41 am — Reply

    I need to get one of these mosaics. They are so beautiful and real.

  13. Tara Pittman
    January 14, 2021 at 3:20 pm — Reply

    I loved learning how this is done. That is so cool. I really love the wood storage near the fireplace.

  14. Lee
    January 14, 2021 at 3:24 pm — Reply

    Such a beautiful portrait of Sheba and how wonderfully you have transformed it into a mosaic piece worth admiring and appreciating

  15. Jenni
    January 14, 2021 at 4:19 pm — Reply

    Oh wow what a beautiful piece of work. Such a striking and heartbreaking photo, what a struggle her life must have been so far

  16. Fransic verso
    January 14, 2021 at 5:52 pm — Reply

    This is amazing. How it was made in different ways makes it more interesting.

  17. Melissa cushing
    January 14, 2021 at 6:02 pm — Reply

    I am totally loving that beautiful finished product and totally love seeing how they built the picture…so cool seeing the process broken down 🙂 Seriously cool and always enjoy checking out your latest posts 🙂

  18. Sella
    January 15, 2021 at 12:32 am — Reply

    What an amazing story to go with the making of the mosaic! The story makes this portrait so much more memorable.
    I like the video detailing the process of making this mosaic.

  19. Natalia
    January 15, 2021 at 4:51 am — Reply

    I didn’t really know that the process of preparing a mosaic looks like that. There’s a wonderful story behind this particular piece. 🙂

  20. Nikki Wayne
    January 15, 2021 at 5:06 am — Reply

    Wow,it really looks like her. So cute!

  21. Ivan M. Jose
    January 15, 2021 at 6:00 am — Reply

    She is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing how you created the mosaic.

  22. Ms. Sales
    January 15, 2021 at 6:38 am — Reply

    Such an amazing artwork! I would love my face to have a mosaic like this. Hehe

  23. Hollie
    January 15, 2021 at 8:38 am — Reply

    Wow, this brought tears to my eyes but it’s so beautiful at the same time. I cannot even imagine how hard of a struggle it was.

  24. MELANIE EDJOURIAN
    January 15, 2021 at 9:16 am — Reply

    Oh wow, the mosaic is pretty amazing. That must have taken hours to create.

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