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this is a study of islamic calligraphy. understanding different scripts and documenting profiles of certain calligraphers. made in may 2009 by kanika gupta who has made two documentary films on islamic calligraphy.


GRADUATION PROJECT This is to certify that ______________________ has successfully completed her/his graduation project with _________________________________________________ in the area of ____________________ in the Fashion Communication Department (2005-2009) of the National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi. This is towards partial fulfillment of the requirement for granting Bachelor of Fashion Technology (Communication Design). Dated: Jury Members: _________________________ _________________________ _________________________

____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________

_________________________ Project Mentor

_________________________ Center Coordinator, FC Deptt.

____________________________ Chairperson, FC Deptt.

National Institute of Fashion Technology Fashion Communication Department

Degree Programme - Under Graduation Fashion Communication Graduation Project - Sunehri Syaahi, Crafts of India Area of Specialization - Photography and Research Internal Mentor - Mrs Anupreet Duggal Industry Mentor - Mrs Kamalini Sengupta, Mr Shambaditya Ghosh

Date of Submission - 14th May 2009 Submitted by - Kanika Gupta


I take this opportunity to thank INTACH for funding my graduation project and having faith in me. During my research on Calligraphy I got immense support from a lot of Calligraphers without which the two films that I have been able to make would have been impossible. I owe a lot to all the people of Tonk, Rajasthan and Arabic and Persian Research Institute, Tonk. Here I will specially mention Farooqiji, Mumtazji and Khursheedji who went out of their way to help me a number of times. I also owe a lot to Arnav Das and Manu Pandey without whom my film which is my graduation project would have never been a reality. Lastly I thank National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi and all faculty members of my department Fashion Communication for their support.

Kanika Gupta 10th May 2009

Graduation Project Brief



b Ta

le of Content

ICH Division

Sunehri Syaahi

Methodology and Research

Crafts of India

Lahul Smruti Film

Graduation Project Brief

Apart from the day to day work and different assignments given by the organization, to work on documentation of crafts of India, then especially focus on Islamic Calligraphy, document all the primary data available, and then make a complete documentation film on the particular style of calligraphy in Tonk, Rajasthan and the calligraphers connected to it.

AbstractAll that has been done as part of Intangible Cultural Heritage team has been related to art and craft particularly. Beginning with a simple documentation of the various crafts of India, a photo documentation of the various craft events happening in Delhi was also done. Then with a special focus on Islamic Calligraphy as a declining craft, a lot of primary research was done and various calligraphers from Delhi and outside were interviewed and profiled. Tonk, Rajasthan was found to have a very distinct style of calligraphy which was then documented on video as well as on a still photography camera. This came out as a documentary film on this craft.

INTACHThe Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is a nationwide, non-profit membership organization. INTACH was set up in 1984 to protect and conserve India's vast natural and cultural heritage.

ICH DivisionINTACH recognizes that Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) includes the following, as defined in the UNESCO Convention on ICH, and works in these areas: Oral traditions, including languages Performing arts Social practices, rituals & festive events Knowledge & practices on nature, universe traditional craftsmanship.

INTACH is evolving its role in the arena of India's rich intangible cultural heritage through: Identifying, documenting & researching its wide ranging constituents, Advocacy in the case of endangered or threatened constituents, Dissemination of awareness.

Sunehri SyaahiTonk, a small city some 95kms from Jiapur, Rajasthan still has a long forgotten tradition of Calligraphy going on. Though very few, there are Islamic calligraphers here who still make a living out of their art. Here in Tonk this art developed a lot in the last two centuries and formed a very distinct style of its own. One would usually get to see a lot of golden and sheen. Artworks are made on parchment and shiny paper. A lot of illumination and decoration is also done using a variety of miniature and floral motifs. This film is an attempt to document the works of these Calligraphers and their work.


SUNHERI SYAAHIRead! And thy Lord is most Bountiful; He who bestowed knowledge through the pen. He taught man that which he knew not. Aee Huzur apni syaahi ko ek rang duu Jo Pegaam hai usko ek dhang duu Do mujhe ek naya savera, Sooraj ki kirno se Isko mai sunhera kar duu !!

Legend holds it that once upon a time Calligraphy witnessed its golden age when Nawab Amir Khan laid the foundation of the princely state of Tonk. 'Sunheri Syaahi' takes a leap into the historically significant town of Tonk and tries peeking into the lives of these masters of penmanship whose existence has remained behind the closed windows away from worthy appraisals and recognition leading to fruitless and mean degradation. It establishes the town as the most prominent calligraphy cluster all over India which has humbly accommodated the most skilled calligraphers and calligraphic craftsmen. An elaborate discussion and interview with these artists enabled Sunheri Syaahi to enter the glorified eyes of these calligraphers and artists behind which lies a dream a dream to see the art thrive and tales of their work be inscribed in Sunheri Syaahi.

Methodology and Research

This is some basic secondary study which helped in the understanding of Islamic Calligraphy as an art.

Deewani script is an Ottoman development parallel to Shikasteh (broken style). The script was largely developed by the accomplished calligrapher Ibrahim Munif in the late 15th century from the Turkish/Persian Ta'liq. Deewani reached its zenith in the 17th century, thanks to the famous calligrapher Shala Pasha. Like Riq'a, Deewani became a favorite script for writing in the Ottoman chancellery. Deewani is excessively cursive and highly structured with its letters undotted and unconventionally joined together. It uses no vowel marks. Deewani also developed an ornamental variety called Deewani Jali which also was known as Humayuni (Imperial). The development of Deewani Jali is credited to Hafiz Uthman. The spaces between the letters are spangled with decorative devices which do not necessarily have any orthographic value. Deewani Jali is highly favored for ornamental purposes.

"Allah is the Great" (A common saying)

"O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint". (From the Holy Qur'an: Surah: 2, Al-Baqarah, verse: 183.)

In The Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful "But the Bounty of your Lord - rehearse and proclaim!". (From the Holy Qur'an: Surah: 93, Ad-Duha, verse: 11)

"Those who teach me have my everlasting respect" (A common saying)

Kufi was the dominant priestly script in early times. It was created after the establishment of the two Muslim cities of Basrah and Kufah in the second decade of the Islamic era (8th century A.D.). The script has specific proportional measurements, along with pronounced angularity and squareness. It became known as al-Khat al-Kufi (Kufi script). Kufi script had a profound effect on all Islamic calligraphy. In contrast to its low verticals, Kufi has horizontal lines that are extended. The script is considerably wider than it is high. This gives it a certain dynamic momentum. The script often is chosen for use on oblong surfaces. With its glorious Handasi (geometrical) construction, Kufi could be adapted to any space and material -- from silk squares to the architectural monuments left by Timur at Samarqand. Because Kufi script was not subjected to strict rules, calligraphers employing it had virtually a free hand in the conception and execution of its ornamental forms.

The most unique variants of Kufic script are: Al-Kufi al-Mukhammal: The writing stands out against a background of floral and geometric designs superimposing the movement of the script over the movement of the underlying pattern. Al-Kufi al-Muzaffar: The flow of the words blends beautifully in a unique way with the movement of the stressed and dense vertical letters. Al-Kufi al-Handasi: The composition is based on the intertwining of geometric shapes -- including circles, squares, and triangles -- with the words. These ornamental Kufic versions were applied to the surfaces of artistic and architectural objects including surfaces of stucco, wood, tile, metal, glass, ivory, textiles, and bricks.



"There is no God who truly deserves to be worshipped but Allah alone and Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him) is the messenger of Allah." (The profession of faith in Islam)

"He Who taught (the writing) by the Pen" (From the Holy Qur'an, Surah: 96, Al- 'Alaq, Verse: 4)

"Mohammed" (From the Holy Qur'an, Surah: 48, Al-Fat'h, verse: 29)


Naskh was one of the earliest scripts to evolve. It gained popularity after being redesigned by the famous calligrapher Ibn Muqlah in the 10th century. Because of Ibn Muqlah's comprehensive system of proportion, Naskh style displays a very rhythmic line. Naskh later was reformed by Ibn al-Bawaab and others into an elegant scrip