Artist Warns of Waning Tradition of Quranic Calligraphy

13:24 - April 21, 2024
News ID: 3488024
IQNA – An Iranian calligrapher who specializes in writing religious texts, specially the Holy Quran, has raised the alarm over the decline in number of people who pursue Quranic calligraphy.


Speaking to IQNA, Hojat-ol-Islam Abdollah Abdollahzadeh said that he began his journey with calligraphy in 1989 and soon achieved a level of handwriting that his teachers considered acceptable.

“It was during this time that the verses of the Quran written in Naskh scrpit captivated me,” said the Qom-based artist, noting that this deep interest led him to devote himself to writing the Quran, as well as the hadiths of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS).

For those aspiring to write Quranic verses, mastering the Nashq or Thuluth script is essential, he stressed. “Through three years of diligent practice, I honed my skills in the Naskh script and penned the Holy Quran for the first time in 1992.”

In contemporary times, calligraphy and the writing of the Holy Quran are often seen more as “decorative arts rather than a primary profession,” Abdullahzadeh said, adding that the advent of speedy, precise, and elegant printing has made hand-written works less sought after due to their higher costs.

While calligraphers are still commissioned to write the Quran in places like Saudi Arabia and, to a lesser extent, Iran, the craft is not as revered as it once was, he regretted.

Artist Warns of Waning Tradition of Quranic Calligraphy

Although there are fewer Quranic calligraphers today and less interest in entering the field compared to the past, the art of calligraphy and Quranic writing was once greatly cherished, said the artist. Previously, the wealthy would commission a handwritten Quran to a calligrapher, however, nowadays, such orders are more commonly coming for events or exhibitions, he added.

As technology and the digital world have advanced, there's been a noticeable decline in students pursuing calligraphy and Quranic writing, the cleric said.

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In one of the districts of Qom that is home to roughly 400,000 people, there's only one calligraphy class with 10 students—a surprisingly small number for such a populous area, he noted. “Sometimes, when I'm alone, I can't help but wonder if we might be the last generation of Quranic calligraphers.”

Calligraphy is both costly and time-intensive, which might explain the dwindling interest in this art form, he said, noting, “to encourage today's youth to embrace this art, we must first acknowledge and honor the current artists in this field.”

He proposed the establishment of a dedicated organization for Quranic writing in the country.

Artist Warns of Waning Tradition of Quranic Calligraphy

What makes a calligraphy work more influential

The artist went on to say that the longevity and influence of a piece isn't just about the time invested. “It is affected by the quality of materials like paper and pen, the lighting, and most importantly, the artist's state of mind.”

A creation can be exquisitely crafted in just an hour and resonate with lasting beauty, whereas a piece labored over for a week may not retain that same enduring essence, he noted.

Practice in calligraphy a must

Abdullahzadeh noted that everyday practice is crucial for the success of a calligrapher.

“I firmly believe in the pursuit of lifelong learning,” he said, adding, “For a calligrapher, daily repetition and practice are crucial—essentially, it's like doing one's homework. An artist who neglects this discipline and fails to take practice seriously will not find success.”

He noted that after 35 years of engaging with the art, he still dedicates two to three hours each day after the midday prayer to refine his calligraphic skills.