India’s northern most state of Jammu and Kashmir is a picturesque valley set against the backdrop of snow-clad Himalayan ranges. Words fail to describe the beauty of this place.
‘The Switzerland of India’, along with its sparkling rivers, splendid gardens, Chinar trees, and snow-capped peaks also treasures a diverse cultural heritage. Kashmir has a glorious history of Islamic calligraphy. This is a centuries old art and has been used in decoration of architectural monuments, woodcraft, metals, glass as well as on textiles. The tradition of Islamic Calligraphy originated during the Sultanate period. Ibu Muqlah Sheerazi, was one of the greatest Islamic Calligraphers who created the six classic categories or genres of Persian Calligraphy namely Tahqiq, Raiyaan, Toqi, Riqah, Sols, & lastly Naksh. But, with the passage of time and change in people’s taste, the art of calligraphy began to wither away. Amidst the stunning beauty of the valley the art of Calligraphy came alive amid canvasses, papers, colors and a kalam.
You’ll need years of hard work and practice to master the art of Calligraphy, but meet Nadiya Mushtaq Mir from Kralpora, Budgam. She is a young self-taught Islamic Calligrapher. Curiosity can often teach you valuable things. Being passionately curious about this art since childhood, she started giving wings to her imagination with crayons. Since then she developed an increasingly strong dream of always being associated with the art of Islamic Calligraphy. Influenced by her own childhood resolution she is now the part of the process for revival of Islamic Calligraphy. She thinks that her Calligraphy is a way of paying respect and tributes to some of the greatest artists of Islamic Calligraphers. While incorporating modern designs she stays true to the old tradition.
“Apart from calligraphy, I love cooking and fashion designing also. I believe they too are a form of art and like calligraphy, cooking & designing taught me the art of building elementary things in life assiduously bit by bit”.
This art brings an inner satisfaction and solace which she feels is more important than making profits out of selling the frames. It’s a way of her communication. Along with the emotional and physical support from her family she started a business built on her passion. She uses social media to make people aware of her creative work. She had to face a lot of challenges, ranging from communication breakdown with her clientele due to frequent internet bans to getting hold of costly calligraphic tools that are rarely available in the city. But, her commitment to learn something new keept her enthusiasm energized.
“My dream is to create a skilled group of calligraphers in Kashmir and I am hopeful that government will sponsor my endeavour”. The almost relaxed city of Srinagar came alive with bustling crowds as the city experienced its first ever Islamic calligraphy exhibition at the gates of Jamia Masjid. Recently in an endeavour to promote the city of Srinagar as a heritage corridor the Department of Tourism, Kashmir organized an on-site live demonstration of Islamic Calligraphic works of noted artists and students at newly constructed Tourism Information Centre near Jamia Masjid, Srinagar.
“The main reason for taking the entire exhibition in downtown is because downtown in Srinagar has always been a main hub of arts and crafts.” The event was title ‘khush khat’ and lasted for seven days, where around 50 students from different schools of the downtown Srinagar, artists from Cultural Academy and other artists had put on display their calligraphic works in Arabic, Persian and Kashmiri language. The exhibition included calligraphy works, panels depicting glorious history of Kashmiri calligraphers through the ages and traditional slate and pens used for calligraphy.
Young talent Nadiya Mushtaq Mir’s works were also a part of the exhibition. The celebration of learning and reviving of the art turned out to be a huge success. We have to preserve and promote the rich traditional cultures and indigenous practices of a state. The diversity of culture and traditions of each state in India is so unique. We are similar as we are different.