Visitors throng Calligraphy Exhibition at Lok Virsa Heritage Museum

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Zubair Qureshi

A large number of visitors on Tuesday thronged the calligraphy exhibition at Lok Virsa featuring a collection of over 50 pieces of calligraphic art by Mohammad Azeem Iqbal at the Lok Virsa Heritage Museum. The works, which came together over more than two decades depict various mediums including leather, woodwork, copper, precious stones and bone.
According to Mr Azeem the inspiration for the work was the time of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). This Ramazan, I have tried to produce the work entirely as it would have been made in that era. That is evident in the materials and ‘canvases’ I have used – I have used all the same materials as a tribute and sign of my devotion.
I have based my materials on the leather, the wood, bamboo and have also use the burnt wood and grinded stones for this purpose. It is meaningful to go back to the same techniques from where the Holy Quran was taught. I have also used the same form of calligraphy as was used in that time, he further said.
The visitors praised the quality of the exhibited work and Lok Virsa’s efforts to remain true to its mandate of identifying, recording, preserving, and promoting traditional arts, crafts and culture, and creating traction for those traditions amongst future generations.
According to a visitor, calligraphy is an ancient art for our country. This institute was created in 1974 and at that stage it was becoming hard to find artistic and oral traditions, and today we can find numerous incidents of different arts and crafts in the archives of Lok Virsa. With this exhibition and many others that have taken place here, we can the talent and skill that finds space here.
Mr Azeem’s calligraphy emphasises the sacredness and spirit of the written word with subjective aesthetics in pure oriental tradition. Using three dimensional techniques in wood, metal, gold, silver and leather, he creates his calligraphic works with an intense devotion.
Apart from his fascination with calligraphy, Mr Azeem also works on miniature, wood carving, relief work and other mediums to express himself. Calligraphy is one of the most skilful of Islamic arts but it predates Islam, as it has been historically a way to pen down sacred texts in Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. In Islamic traditions calligraphies have found space on monuments, mosques and canvas, which creates continuity of traditions. The diversity and range of the calligraphic art is such that there are over 300 styles of writing in South Asia alone, and there are myriad variations of each style.

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