An Afghan calligrapher has created what is being billed as the world’s largest Koran.
The ambitious project has been heralded in Afghanistan as a historic achievement, and potentially eclipses another massive Koran unveiled just two months ago.
Mohammad Sabir Khedri, the master calligrapher behind the Afghan project, spent five years working with nine of his students to complete the Koran, which measures 2.28 meters by 1.55 meters.
Khedri, speaking described the venture to RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan as the most difficult, but rewarding, in his life.
"This idea was a spiritual move to be closer to the path of God," Khedri said. "I have tried with all my heart and soul to reach this goal. Doing the calligraphy for the holy book has been the biggest challenge in my life."
The lavish book, which was certified as the world's largest by the Afghan Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs, blends gold script with millions of tiny colorful points.
The Koran, which cost $500,000 to create, weighs 500 kilograms and its 218 pages of cloth and paper are bound by a leather cover made from the skins of 21 goats.
It was funded by Alhaj Sayed Mansoor Naderi, leader of the minority Shi'ite Ismailis in northern Afghanistan, and printed in Turkey.
The Koran was praised by representatives of many sectors of Afghan society at an unveiling ceremony in Kabul last week.
Fazilhadi Muslimyar, the chairman of the upper house of parliament, hailed the Koran as a historic achievement.
"There is only one Koran and for the largest to be in Afghanistan is due to the hard work of these young people, who have presented it to the Afghan people. Today, Muslims in Afghanistan have shown the world once again that the Koran is of such value that we have spent our own resources to make history for ourselves."
The previous claim to the title of world's largest Koran was in Kazan, the capital of Russia's republic of Tatarstan, where a 2-meter-by-1.5-meter Koran was unveiled in Russia's Tatarstan region
The Koran in Tatarstan is still the heaviest Koran in the world, weighing in at around 800 kilograms.
based on RFE/RL Radio Free Afghanistan and Reuters reporting