The Revival of Calligraphy in Kashmir

The Revival of Calligraphy in Kashmir

“Art is not what you see, But what you make others see.”- Edgar Deg

The state of Jammu and Kashmir is extremely rich in its art and culture. The beauty of Kashmir has been a source of inspiration for many artists. Various art galleries and museums have attracted a lot of tourism here. During the reign of Sultan Zain ul Abidin, art was highly appreciated. It is believed scholar Sharaf-ud-Din-Bulbul Shah introduced calligraphy to Kashmir in the fourteenth century AD. After him many calligraphers started to enjoy a degree of royal patronage. And this is how calligraphy became the talk of the town.

The Revival of Calligraphy in Kashmir

The word calligraphy is originated from the greek words ‘kallos’ and ‘graphein’ which means ‘beauty’ and ‘to write’ respectively. During the time of Mughals, a number of Kashmiri calligraphists managed to secure a permanent position in the court of royal artisans; Mohammad Hussain Kashmiri being one of them. He was amazing at Nastaliq style of writing. Such was the beauty of his art that he was highly regarded by Mughal Emperor Akbar and Jahangir as well. He was in fact given a place among the famous navratnas of Akbar.

Over the period of time, as the mughal reign started to decline, calligraphy started to fade away. In modern times some people managed to make it survive. Some young calligraphers even managed to make it wide awake. Nadiya Mushtaq Mir, a 29-year-old from Kralpora Village is a self taught calligrapher, got international recognition for her work.

“I was inclined to art, designs, sketches and drawings since my childhood. I used to draw with crayons which gave wings to my imaginations and dreams. It was then that I decided to be associated with this art,” she said.
With this profession she is able to earn a good amount of money. She believes Islamic calligraphy is an art and it is something where people don’t mind spending. In 2017, her work was exhibited in “Khush Khat”, a calligraphy workshop in Srinagar.

Just like her Ishfaq always wanted to follow his passion for calligraphy. He was always surrounded by art, a perk of living in an area that is famous for papier mache craft. Between his busy job in Police department, he somehow manage to steal the time to create some mesmerising pieces of calligraphy. Many buyers got attracted to his work.

The Revival of Calligraphy in Kashmir

Introduction of technology and computers had waned the interest in this beautiful art but thanks to the youngsters, calligraphy is back with a bang. It is really overwhelming to see people making an effort to hold on to the art that was on the verge of extinction. It got a huge boost after an Islamic calligraphy exhibition (ICC) that was organised in Srinagar. The works of famous Calligraphers such as Fida Hussain Rather, Iftikhar Jaffar and Taha Mughal were also displayed. Many government bodies, NGOs, Individual experts came together to promote and exhibit the art.
The Revival of Calligraphy in Kashmir

The government of Jammu and Kashmir after every interval of time organize different workshops and exhibitions to promote the art of Calligraphy. Calligraphy has a special place in Kashmir and should be cherished forever!

The Vintage Gems of Kashmir

I wonder what made Amir Khusrau Sahab to say this about Kashmir?
Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast,
Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast”,
meaning, “If there is a paradise on earth, It is this, it is this, it is this.”

Is it its people or nature? Well, we Kashmiris are most privileged to be part of this abundant land and immensely grateful for people who have nurtured this heaven on Earth.
The Kashmir we see today is the artwork of its ancestral kings, queens and natives, who have knitted the rich cultures and traditions of the valley and left it for us to cherish.
Let’s take you back, to some of the hidden vintage gems from Kashmir valley-

1. Poplar Avenue, a row of 1700 trees, photographed by Francis Frith

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

2. Waterwheel and Kashmiri Pandits 1870, photographed by Francis Frith

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

3. Amiran Kadal. First bridge built by Afghan governor Amir Khan Sher Jawan in 1774-1777, photographed by Francis Frith

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

4. The Sun temple of Martand built by King Lalitaditya (A.D. 693 to 729), photographed by Francis Frith

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

5. Srinagar with Safoola Baba’s House, photographed by Francis Frith in 1875, photographed by Francis Frith

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

6. Kashmiri girl at Dancing Shalimar, photograph by Herford Tynes Cowling for National Geographic Magazine in October 1929

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

7. Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev’s boat procession 1955. – Indian Photo Division

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

8. Pandits and Muslims sitting together at the Potter’s shop, 1885, via. British Library. The Potter is making “touk”, a saucer needed for religious rites of Pandits.

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

9. The state emblem of Jammu and Kashmir designed by artist Mohan Raina (1928-1983 ) 1952.

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

10. A page from 17th century musical treatise by Shaykh ʻAbd al-Karīm ibn Shaykh Farīd Anṣārī al-Qādirī al-Jawnpūrī dedicated to Muhammad ‘Adil Shah (r.1626-56), via: British Library

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

11. Traditional accessories of Kashmir 1921
-Tolsi/Tulsi: the choker necklace
-Chaphkael: the long necklace

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

12. The opening of a collection of verse by the celebrated Kashmiri poet, Mahmud Gami (19th century), via British Library

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

13. A map of the Mughal province of Cachemir (Kashmir), 1770, via: British Library

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

14. Copper coin of Didda, the ruler of Kashmir from 958 CE to 1003 CE, around 950-8 A.D.

Amir Khusrau, Jammu and Kashmir, Old Kashmir, Vintage Kashmir

Old is Gold. At Kashmiri Life we plan to protect the old like diamonds.