Learn the secrets of andalusian calligraphy

The origin of “Calligraphy” is the Greek word Kalligraphia,  meaning beautiful writing.  The oldest document on record, (328AD) written with an Arabic alphabet was discovered near Damascus by a French archeologist, providing an initial proof that Arabic script had evolved from ancient Nabataean writing.  The art of calligraphy would later become one of the major forms of artistic expression in Islamic culture, known in general as khatt Islam, the Islamic line or design.  This came to encompass Arabic, Ottoman and Persian calligraphy, which gave rise to unique variations in ornamental and decorative styles throughout different geographic regions of the Muslim world.

Of the 6 major forms of Islamic calligraphy, the Andalusian style, a variation of “Kufic” the oldest form of Arabic script, derived from the city of Kufa in Iraq, was continental Europe’s only indigenous way of writing the Qur’an.  It became an elegant,  geometric expression of the sublime art of the spiritual world of Islam. The techniques of transcription, illumination, illustration and binding were to reach a zenith during the 800 year long period of Al-Andalus.  In addition to copying millions of books in Arabic, scribes translated works from major civilizations; Greek, Roman, Hindu, Chinese, including all the major sciences; from astronomy, alchemy, botany, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, to poetry and agriculture and much more.

Sadly, after the fall of Granada in 1492, and the subsequent Moorish and Jewish diasporas, the use of the Arabic language, formerly the most important spoken and written language in Andalusia, was forbidden throughout Spain.  The script fell into disuse, the majority of books disappeared, going underground to places as diverse as Morocco, Turkey, even Mali.

In the 20th century post colonial era there was a resurgence of Arabic when artists of the northern African and middle Eastern Alhurufiyyah art movement transformed the traditional Arabic alphabet into a modern graphic form with a secret mystical, esoteric meaning.  The term is derived from the Arabic word harf, (letter). The traditional instrument for writing Arabic calligraphy was a qalam, a  slender reed pen, sharply carved and shaped from specially selected dried reeds or bamboo.  The qalam was often compared to the alif, a straight vertical stroke, first letter of the Arabic alphabet and therefore the beginning of the transmission of knowledge.  This modern art movement has helped simultaneously to revive interest into learning traditional calligraphy of the Arabic alphabet.

Expert calligraphers from Morocco and Granada are sharing the secrets of this beautiful decorative art, lost for so long, as a beneficial means of reconnecting East and West.  Once again, you can have your name written in Arabic on the streets of Granada’s historic Alcaicería souk, have Arabic letters tattooed on your arm as well as search for beautiful handcrafted ceramic bowls engraved with calligraphic letters or numbers.

Nizar Liemlahi, Founder of Dar Loughat Granada and internationally renowned expert in the ancient wisdoms of Al-Andalus, is committed today to share the secrets of Andalusian calligraphy with his students and the general public.  More importantly, he reveals with every stroke, that, in addition to learning how to create beautiful letters and understand the complex meaning of Arabic words, the frequent practice of calligraphy leads to clarity of expression, reduces stress and anxiety, creates individual self-confidence and helps with working in a group.  The power of the words, their vibrations and patterns are revealed through the artistry of Andalusian calligraphy.

Nizar will offer a new series of his popular Master Classes of traditional Andalusian Calligraphy, starting in September 2018.  These will form an integral part of the Arabic for fun! programs. Participants wishing to learn how to write Arabic calligraphy are not required to have any prior knowledge of Arabic.  From time to time, classes will be hosted by special guest calligraphers, renowned in their field.

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