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I'm creating a carving in indigenous languages for International Mother Language Day and shipping it to Bangladesh for display
I'm creating a carving in indigenous languages for International Mother Language Day and shipping it to Bangladesh for display
37 backers pledged $1,802 to help bring this project to life.

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$1,802

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One of the great challenges facing the world is cultural erosion. As globalization spreads, individual cultures lose their artistic and spiritual traditions, their sense of their own history. The world loses its diversity, and individuals lose their sense of value, direction and identity. This is the province of the Endangered Alphabets Project, but now I’m hoping to raise our work to a whole new level.

February 21st has been declared by the United Nations to be International Mother Language Day. You may not have heard of it, but it’s a vital piece in the worldwide effort to preserve indigenous, endangered, and minority cultures—by helping give respect to their languages, which are the heart of their identity.

As I say, this is a global issue, but the day is especially closely connected to the nation of Bangladesh, where the population's desire to speak its mother tongue was a main factor in achieving independence from Pakistan. The Endangered Alphabets Project is contributing our part to this global observance by returning to these roots. I am carving the phrase “mother language” in the four principal alphabets of Bangladesh: Bangla (the official national language), and Chakma, Marma and Mro, three of the country's endangered indigenous languages.

It’s a way of giving respect and attention to the entire diversity of the population. In the United States, it would be like displaying the phrase “mother tongue” in English but also in Cherokee, Navajo, Lakota, Cree, and other indigenous languages of North America. The Bangladesh project is a first step toward doing carvings in mother tongues for many other countries. 

My hope is that this carving will be my most public work yet, and will become a visual symbol of the diversity of languages and cultures not only in Bangladesh but all over the world.

My Kickstarter goal is $1,000 to cover the cost of buying the materials,  doing the carving, and shipping the finished work to Bangladesh, where it will go on display in the main arts center in the highly diverse city of Chittagong. If I can exceed that goal it will help to cover the costs of exhibiting the carving, publicizing the event and creating an International Mother Language Day poster based on the carving.

The Endangered Alphabets Project has grown in large part thanks to its Kickstarter supporters, who have recognized the importance of the union of diverse art and global purpose I’m striving to maintain. I hope you’ll continue to back my work.

Risks and challenges

It's possible my carving would be lost in transit, I suppose. Shipping overseas always carries a certain amount of risk. At that point I'd have to use tracking to get the carrier to find it. I suppose it might also be held up at Customs, but the exhibitor who will be displaying the work has experience dealing with such problems.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    A pdf of the finished Mother Tongue carving that can be downloaded and hung as a poster for International Mother Language Day

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    A pack of four assorted Endangered Alphabets postcards featuring carvings in Tibetan, Cham, Baybayin, and Balinese.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    A signed copy of my coffee-table-style book Endangered Alphabets. The book includes a folio of high-resolution photos of carvings and tells the history of the Endangered Alphabets Project, including stories of many of the texts I have carved and a wide variety of fascinating questions about writing, language, technology, and culture.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A copy of the font book, designed by Tom Sanalitro for the Endangered Alphabets, for one of two endangered alphabets of Bangladesh, Mro or Marma (backer's choice).

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    A single initial, letter, or symbol of the backer's choice, carved in cherry. It can be something from the Latin alphabet or from an endangered alphabet--and in the latter case you may want to browse through www.omniglot.com. Dimensions roughly 8"x5".

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    A carving in beautiful tiger maple of the phrase "mother tongue" in one of the endangered alphabets of Bangladesh: Chakma, Marma, or Mro. (Backer's choice.) The carving measures roughly 12"x8".

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    A carving in beautiful tiger maple of the Balinese word "suksma," or "Thanks!" The carving measures roughly 12"x8".

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Funding period

- (10 days)