Visual Dhikr™
returning to remembrance

Art of calligraphy in desperate need of revival

Abdul Mohamin

Srinagar, Sep 24: The exhibition of rare calligraphic works held by the Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art Culture and Languages here may have witnessed warm response. However, it is also true the art form is at the verge of extinction as very few people come forward to learn it. The institutes which were providing training to the students in the art form have also either closed down or are on the verge of closure. The Industrial Training Institute, Bagh Dilawar Khan which provides training in calligraphy found no new students to take up the course.

Abdul Rashid Dar, an instructor in the calligraphy section said that the decline of the art form has been observed for years now.

“And this time we are on verge of closure,” he said.

“Our last batch had four students out of which only two continued with the training. Even those who completed the course pursued some other job later on as there is little employment scope in calligraphy in this computer age,” Rashid added.

Dar said that calligraphers a decade ago could find a job easily in any newspaper, and publishers also approached them, but with the advent of computer and Urdu software, the art form began to lose relevance.

“A sense of uncertainty takes over a person who takes up calligraphy as a profession has no job market at present,” he added.

The institute has also asked Dar to surrender his room and at present he sits in another section.
“When there are no students there is no fun in occupying the room,” said Dar, lamenting that even the tools used for calligraphy are also difficult to find.

Dar who has lost hope of the revival of the art form said that earlier a project sponsored by National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) under which computer training was imparted along with calligraphic skills did provide a new lease of life, but the project was later shelved due to official “apathy”.

At present the Cultural Academy is the only place where calligraphy is taught, but the calligraphers there also seem helpless in saving this dying art form.

Muhammad Shams-u-din, a calligrapher at the Academy told Rising Kashmir “The manuscripts of Quran on display in the exhibition held by the Academy have distinct characteristic styles, which cannot be possible if we use computers where uniformity is a feature.”

“Not long ago the style of every paper was different according to the calligraphers it employed in its organization, but now we may see a similar kind of style in most newspapers,” said Shamsh-u-din who himself uses the mouse instead of pen and a latest inkjet printer rather ink.

Shams-u-din defends the use of computer, but says that the old art form needs to be revived.

“This is an Islamic art form and it helped Islam to spread, and it should not be lost to wrong policies of the government. The Academy must encourage this form of writing as it is now the last institute where one can learn it,” he said.


This entry was posted on Monday, September 29, 2008 at 8:35 AM. You can skip to the end and leave a response.

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At 6:17 PM, Anonymous fika said...

i read that you studied some calligraphy scripts in Egypt, do you suggest/ advice the same if i want to pursue in/study calligraphy?

it would be really helpful if you could share more about that. alf syukra!


At 7:05 PM, Blogger Visual Dhikr said...
Salam Fika,

Both Egypt and Turkey are good places to study calligraphy, however, expect to put in some considerable time. Some go and spend years, others come back after a year and practice, but always keeping in contact with teachers. All depends on how serious you are.

You can also learn calligraphy local to you, if you can find a teacher. And put in several years of regular practice.

When I get more time, I will make a more detailed post about it. So that people can get into calligraphy.

At 4:13 PM, Anonymous fika said...
also, just wondering though, do you think ladies will face any problems or obstacles, i mean, those places being in the middle-east and all that..?

thank you! i will look forward for your more detailed post then.

At 6:50 PM, Blogger Visual Dhikr said...
Salam Fika,

In most cases ladies won't face problems, both in the learning or living in either Turkey or Egypt.

However I advise for long term stays to have someone with them, either mahram, husband or at the least a friend.

I know of a Japanese non-Muslim girl who studied calligraphy, she became amazingly good in the Thuluth sript.

Sister Soraya Syed of Art of the Pen studied in Turkey for over three years. She was with her husband.

So it is very much possible and encouraged. When I was there, they had an exhibition called 'Ashiqat al-Khatt al-Arabiy', which was an exhibition of over 15 female calligraphers from Egypt - was brilliant.

At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...
Would you happen to know where one can learn calligraphy in Cairo, Egypt, who to contact, etc? or in Toronto, Canada?


At 5:51 AM, Blogger sajida said...
sajida from south africa. I think short holiday courses should be designed for foreigners. In december and january we have school hols. I am an art teacher and would love 2 do a course then    

At 12:02 AM, Blogger ansar said...
i would really like to study the art form in the uk, but don't have details of teachers here...
could you provide details of places in turkey and egypt please
jazakallah khair


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