Xi’an calligraphy

The calligraphy pieces below were seen in a shop near the Grand Mosque in Xi’an, China. They are written in the Arabic script, but reflect a distinctly Chinese aesthetic (particularly the two on the left).

xiancalligraphy1

Music of the Eye

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet¬†Sanaa Boutayeb Naim, a Moroccan filmmaker who lives here in Washington, DC. In the fall of 2008 she produced a documentary feature about master calligrapher Mohamed Zakariya, and kindly allowed me to feature the video on the CalligraphyQalam.com blog. In this 11-minute documentary, Mohamed Zakariya offers insight into the art of Arabic script calligraphy. I’m sure you’ll enjoy watching.

Arabesque at the Kennedy Center

Arabesque at the Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center is currently hosting a three-week festival called Arabesque: Arts of the Arab World (February 23-March 15, 2009). The festival includes music, dance and theatre events, as well as exhibits by contemporary artists.

I visited the festival last Saturday, and was excited to see the work of two calligraphers displayed. Hassan Massoudy is an Iraqi artist who lives in France. He uses a large brush and vibrant colors to create his calligraphic art. His work was exhibited at the Kennedy Center in a 3-sided multimedia display, featuring examples of his art and video footage of him creating calligraphy.

Hassan Massoudy Calligraphy

Hassan Massoudy Calligraphy

Farah Behbehani is a graphic designer and calligrapher from Kuwait. For her masters’ thesis, she created a series of calligraphic illustrations based on a classic Sufi poem, The Conference of the Birds.¬†Each illustration was accompanied by a decoding system which she describes as, “designed to make Arabic calligraphy more accessible for non-Arabic readers.” The spread below is from her book, which can be ordered from Amazon.com.

Farah Behdehani

Farah Behbehani Calligraphy


Portrait of Mohamed Zakariya

A Turkish TV station called “Ebru” created this 27-minute video portrait of the American calligraphy artist Mohamed Zakariya. In this piece, Zakariya talks about how he became interested in calligraphy, the Ottoman calligraphy tradition, the process of creating a U.S. Postal Service stamp for the Muslim holiday of Eid, and why calligraphy is important. Several of Zakariya’s students are also interviewed.

Calligraphy museums spring up in the gulf

Several museums featuring Arabic script calligraphy have opened in the last few years, highlighting a growing worldwide interest in this art form.

The Tareq Rajab Museum of Islamic Calligraphy in Kuwait opened on March 14, 2007. According to the museum website, “its aim is to trace the development of the Arabic script.” The collection belongs to Tareq Sayed Rajab (former Director of the Department of Antiquities and Museums of Kuwait) and includes a variety of calligraphic work dating from the 7th century until today.

Tareq Rajab Museum of Islamic Calligraphy

Tareq Rajab Museum of Islamic Calligraphy

The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in Doha, Qatar opened in 2007. The MIA was designed by architect I.M. Pei and planned in coordination with the British Museum. The museum’s collection dates from the 7th century to today, and its calligraphy represents a range of media such as Korans and manuscripts, ceramics, tiraz and coins. The museum is located on an artificial island accessible by pedestrian bridge. It aims to be the foremost museum of Islamic art in the world, and according to its website, “a centre of education and information in the field of the arts of the Islamic world.”

Visit each museum’s website for information about fees and hours of operation.

Museum of Islamic Art

Museum of Islamic Art