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Downtown relives Islamic Calligraphy

Srinagar | Posted : Jul 18 2017 1:33AM | Updated: Jul 18 2017 12:12AM
Downtown relives Islamic Calligraphy
GK Photo

Downtown here on Monday came alive with a bustling crowd as a first ever Islamic calligraphy exhibition at the gates of Jamia Masjid was thronged by rare combination of artists, officials, students, experts, shopkeepers, traders and commoners alike.

It was an occasion when secretary to Chief Minister cum Tourism, director Tourism, secretary JKAACL, chairman and other officials were seen roaming without any security at the otherwise sensitive place. Cops were nowhere to be seen as the security was the least of concern for the enthusiastic crowd. The only problem for stunned organizers was to deal with huge rush of visitors. 

The event titled “Khush Khat – a Celebration of Islamic Calligraphy in Kashmir,” seemed to be managed by mechanical precision as it took care of all sensitivities of religion, culture and aspirations of people. Though various officials were there, but unlike the government function, the honour of inaugurating the exhibition cum workshop went to the oldest surviving master metal calligrapher, Muhammed Amin Kundangar. Thereafter the crowd never stopped converging at the hall which proved too small for the event.   

The exhibition included calligraphy works, panels depicting glorious history of Kashmiri calligraphers through the ages and traditional slate and pens used for calligraphy. 

At the entrance was the calligraphic art of famed naat sharief of Jan Muhammed Qudsi, “Marhaba Sayyad e Makki Madani ul Arabi,” (PBUH) the first two couplets of which is said to have given birth to around 5000 Naats in the entire world. The Naat has been used in movies too. “This work on Qudsi’s naat is just a smaller version of my eight feet by six feet calligraphy work of same naat at Shadipora shrine,” said Ishfaq Ali Parray, a young calligrapher from Zadibal here.

Most of the Parray’s work at the exhibition already stands sold and was brought from the private collectors for exhibition. The other works by the likes of Fida Hussain Rather, Nadiya Mushtaq Mir, Iftikhar Jaffar and Taha Mughal took audience to an altogether new world of art. Every work had a story to be told. From Bismillah written in the shape of building to calligraphic piece looking like a QR Code, the variety was in plenty. 

The struggle for the organisers was the overwhelming response from the people of Downtown, as everybody came to see the rare cultural happening in their vicinity. The exhibition cum workshop was jointly organised by INTACH, Department of Tourism, Skill Pro Kashmir and Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art Culture and Languages at the Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC).

“We never expected such a crowd,” said Salim Beigh, state convener INTACH, who was busy managing people, advising students and interacting with media.

“The workshop was meant for 24 students, but our registration has already crossed 84 and we are struggling to arrange classes for them,” he said.

Though the classes are for younger children, elder ones were not far off. Beigh found himself in a “dilemma” when two MBBS girls students approached him for getting included in the class. “They said that learning calligraphy was their dream in school but they could never get a chance,” said Beigh who now recommended them to separate class. “We cannot say no to anybody so we have to find a way.”

The three skilled calligraphers from JKAACL had a tough day teaching students at the workshop. “I am amazed. These students particularly girls picked up so much in a single day. The talent seems to be in genes here,” said Anwar Lolabi, one of the calligraphy teachers. Around a dozen localities around Jamia Masjid were known for Calligraphy for ages before computer graphic, law and order problem and lack of guidance spelled doom for it. 

By the time the gates were closed at the ICC, the footfall reached 1000. Apart from Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid, there is hardly an example where the area hosts such a crowd. Some people got their families from the homes to see the exhibition and one parent took his daughters from school for a half day to witness the calligraphic masterpieces as he though the event is just for a single day. The exhibition with continue for six more days and conclude on July 23.