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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.