Salam Maal Hijrah 1439!
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2017/sep/22 • 1439/muharram/01
This article “Rendering The Tradition” was first featured in: Asian Geographic magazine, Cultures of Islam Edition. No. 81 Issue 4/2011. Pg 86.
Article written by: Faizal Somadi. • Featured calligraphy masthead design on cover by: Faizal Somadi • Photography by: Jon Ramlan/Hairol Mahsus
When the Holy Quran commands: “Read!”, I recalled the teachings of my late grandfather who taught me about the evolution of scripts through religion, culture and civilization which reflects the importance of communication in delivering knowledge to mankind. From cavemen’s illustrations on the mountain walls, to scripts written on parchments and to the world of pixels that take forms of the digital language. It is a wonder how these systems of communication evolved from the practicality of it to the fine artistry in it.
Doodling, scribbling and drawing are my natural habits as young as two years old. At eight, I adopted my grandfather’s habits of writing a dairy, admiring his handwritings even until he passed away. It was fortunate to receive my first calligraphy lesson when I was only ten in the elementary school. By eleven, apart from drawing, copying school textbooks was my simple hobby. The joy of writing bloomed further as I excel in calligraphy through which I created some monumental pieces for my high school. Despite being comfortable with it, I never want to use it for my art examination subject. Ever since then, it has become a hobby and a habit.
The “qalam” is generally an Arabic term for “pen”, a common domestic writing instrument. However, it is notably recognised as a calligraphy pen used in “khat” another Arabic term for calligraphy, an Arabic art of beautiful writing.
To craft a reed or bamboo into a pen is generally not much of a difficulty. A sturdy, hard and straight wooden stick is good to begin with, along with a very sharp knife (the sharper the better), which is (critically) the pen’s best friend. This is considered as a form of traditional art of crafting a pen.
However, fine-tuning or detail operations in crafting of the pen for certain aesthetic and functional levels may require a good amount of time to train the eyes, hand-skills and the ability to feel the fibres of the material in order to understand how and what can it work for. This may take a good amount of 3 years, of regular carving experiments and training on different materials.
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