Iqbal Ahmad

Celebrating art and heritage

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Recently the International Museum Day was celebrated all over the globe. The day is usually celebrated on 18th of May, mostly by the state museums. In this connection a function was also held at SPS Museum Lalmandi, where in the museum held an exhibition on its Persian and Arabic manuscripts. There were several rare manuscripts on display, which had been copied by the reputed, Philosophers, historians, religious scholars and   calligraphers.

These manuscripts are on history, culture, religious and literature and dated back to the hundreds years. In this context   mention may be made of   Khluasati Manaquib , praise in favour of the Sufi saint Mir Syed Ali Hamadani, Shraie Awradifathia, kitaab Hadith Shamaill, Darood I Akbar,   Maraj ul Nabuwat,Hassan-ul-Hassan, Roza-ul-Ahbab, Daroodi  Shafa, Dalailul Kharaat,   persain geometary, Astronomy, besides there were also displayed the olden copies of holy Quran, and manuscripts on Maha Baghwat Gitta and Ramayana.

These manuscripts depicted the wonderful calligraphy styles in Nasakh and Nastalique.

History records that in ancient times, when paper was not available to the writers, they used to produce their writings in engraved form, on rocks, stones, coins etc. Later on when paper was invented, doors were left open for calligraphers   to meet their needs and exhibit their artistic skill.

After centuries together writing appeared on paper. Initially it was in a simple form just to reduce things in writing but gradually the paper writing developed a beautiful style that later on came to be known as calligraphy. It is a decorative art of writing, which got patronized in Kashmir during medieval periods.

The painters adopted the calligraphy that was the stylish art of writing. This art like other arts traveled from central Asian states to Kashmir in the reign of Sultan Zainul- Abiden (popularly known as Budshah). He invited several masters of this art and appointed them in his darbar. He also gave large lands to them and founded the calligraphy   as an institution.

Kashmiri students were imparted this technical education.  Literary University was also established at Naushara, Srinagar. Sultan began with a number of copies of Kashshaf of Allama Zamashari and adopted it in his University. Many students of Kashmir were sent to the Universities of Bukhara, Samarkand, Heerat.   During  Mughal period,  the art  reached to the new hights.  Mohammad Hussain Kashmiri, reputed calligrapher   served in the darbar  of Jallal Ud Din Mohammad  Akbar and  was honoured by  the title Zarin-Qalam  (golden pen),  Ali Chaman, was another noted court calligrapher  of Jallal Ud  Din Mohammad  Akbar. Mohammad Murad Kashmiri was given the title of “Shirin Qalam” ( Sweet Pen)  by , Shah Jahan. Several Kashmiri artists got patronage in Durrani courts. Bawani  Dass Katchro was the court calligrapher in Durrani darbar. From Shahi darbars the art flourished towards towns and rural areas. Certain families adopted it as their main profession and promoted it further.

A rich legacy of this art has been collected in shape of manuscripts in various calligraphy styles and is preserved in various cultural and literary institutions of the state.

This heritage needs to be  introduced to the new generations  by means  of electronic and print media and by holding district and zone level exhibitions, besides a translation bureau also needs to be set up for translating of this classical literature so that the art , literature and philosophy cultivated in ancient Kashmir is explored.

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