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Watch 8th century’s cursive creations live

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Lucknow, October 14, 2012
First Published: 13:20 IST(14/10/2012) | Last Updated: 13:29 IST(14/10/2012)

Country’s first travelling exhibition of calligraphy will kick off on October 17 from the state capital. The event ‘ Calligraphy through the Ages’, displaying rare works of Islamic, Sanskrit and Dravidian visual art related to writing, will traverse through four other cities, after a 10-day stay at the state museum. The exhibition will pass through New Delhi, Srinagar (J&K), Bhopal and Hyderabad.


The mega event is being organised by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) as part of its 150th year celebrations.

ASI director (epigraphy) for Arabic and Persian inscriptions in Nagpur has for over a century preserved the treasure in the form of inked rubbings of epigraphs constituting the marvels of Islamic calligraphy in India. Likewise, the epigraphy branch at Mysore has done a pioneering work on Sanskrit and Dravidian epigraphs. Both the collections will be part of the exhibition.

“It will showcase ArabicPersian and Sanskrit-Dravidian Calligraphy on monuments, papers, copper plates and coins,” says GS Khwaja, director of the Nagpur-based institute. He is also the nodal officer of the project.

Given the Lucknow’s role in the development of the art form, the exhibition will have a separate panel on Lucknow calligraphy. Over all it will display at least 80 panels of different eras in the medieval period. The works to be put on display date back to 8th century AD.

“The target areas are the people of the cities who love the oriental art of calligraphy and have genuine interest in fineries of literature, art and architecture, especially the Urdu-speaking group,” Khwaja told HT on phone from Nagpur.

Experts associated with calligraphy say that due to the royal patronage this art became a part of the lifestyle of the elite in the medieval society in India. Consequently, Delhi, Lahore, Lucknow, Rampur, Hyderabad and Kashmir became important centres of this art.

Explaining the Lucknow connection, Khwaja said, “Lucknow is very important because it was here where this art actually developed. People from this region were the masters in Naskh and Nastaliq styles and also in Tughra Nawisi,”

“It was the reign of Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula (1754- 75 AD) which extended patronage to many eminent calligraphers like Munshi Chandrabhan Dahalvi, Munshi Tejbhan Dahalvi and Mir Ata Hussain,” he added. Separate panels have been devoted to the holy Quran manuscripts and coins of Sultans of Delhi and Mughal emperors.

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