The Practise of Khat

The traditional practise of “khat” or Arabic calligraphy is physically a very solemn quiet world. Unlike the modern street or home-style calligraphy, or fusions of urban and classical calligraffiti of modern today, it can be a lively exuberant work of art that can be publicly engaging or visually interactive, especially meeting the energetic eyes of the upcoming ultra-modern generations. However, if one may observe, it’s rooted back to emotional notions of messages, mostly caged in the hearts of the streets of everyday life, cross-firings of opinions intertwined among different levels and textures of society, only with limited materials, energised by the desire to express, thence creativity of messages sprouted quietly like viruses. It took decades crossing over the intellectual red, blue and white tapes of the society before it could be accepted as part of human science. And no they are not viruses, they are simply expressions of human energy.

The world of the pen is a different realm of civilisation. Much, much different than what we think we could justify with our intelligence, by defining and redefining things over thousands and thousands of pages, through the humble companions of pen, ink and paper. And now, the keyboard and the screen.

In this article, we are featuring a 4-min documentary video on the practise of Khat. The intention of this documentary is to give an insight to the practise of Arabic calligraphy. It unveils the quiet routine drills of a khat practitioner, whereby the moments of the heart, mind and soul are working in unison, submitting to the principles, discipline and philosophy of the craft.

While physically it’s a quiet world on the outside, it may be and extremely exhaustive world on the inside. The practitioner is constantly coordinating its senses, making deals with the pen, ink and paper, talking to the letters and spaces, at times getting lost on the track, yet searching for potential viable paths of construction, all these just to compose a message. And the practitioner is not merely dealing with what we call “pen, ink and paper”, but sensitive components of fibres, molecules and grains. A lot of times facing disagreements with all these entities, and sometimes managed agreeable terms, and seldom, a practitioner is able to achieve a successful engagement to finalised a letterform into a master class of its own. And to repeat an achievement, one has to engage another deal of negotiation, which usually grew much difficult. The higher the achievement, the more difficult to climb the path. The strive to learn, to unlearn and relearn, and to shave off every single dust of complacency at any point of time, is a must.

The submission is harsh. And therefore perfection could only be a dream. The past calligraphy masters continued their dreams to the realm of eternity.

We hope you’ve gain a better insight through our short video here. And hope that you’ve achieved a better understanding on khat. And certainly, we hope you would give it a try! And for those who have been practising, keep on it.

And if you’re interested on the craft of calligraphy pen-making, checkout our article on Qalam Crafting by clicking HERE. 

Till then thank you for keeping up with us, we hope to update more things to you in the future!

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FS/2016/mar/30

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Qalam Crafting

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.

Read More

Little Lessons in Kuala Lumpur

A visit to the Islamic Art Museum Malaysia meeting calligraphy practitioner, Mr Azmir Karim and his master calligrapher teacher, Puan Citi Yousoff. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia [2013 Dec 18-19].

 

The little trip down to Kuala Lumpur is the only space of 96 hours of break we’re left with. After that, we will be clocking back to the hectic madness of the Lion City. Meeting up with friends and relatives, help us to stretch our breaths a little more out of the grey matter. And meeting up some new friends and special people spice up the excitement a little more.

Awhile back, a visit from a Malaysian calligraphy practitioner down to Singapore wrapped up in some few fruitful hours of introduction and exchanging experiences. Now, we took this opportunity to meet up with this gentleman, and also his teacher. Azmir Karim has been practising khat (Arabic calligraphy) for more than two years now, under the tutelage of Puan Citi Yousoff, a Malaysian female master calligrapher. Puan Citi graduated with an Ijaza (Diploma) in Islamic calligraphy in Thuluth and Nasakh scripts under the tutelage of the Honourable Hassan Celebi, a great master calligrapher in Turkey. Having learning khat through Puan Citi, Azmir also receives the opportunity to learn with other great master calligraphers such as Efdaluddin Kilic, Ferhat Kurlu, Mohamed Zakariya, and also Hassan Celebi, and was very kind to share us his invaluable experiences in having lessons and sessions with them. His personal experiments in developing handmade soot inks and handmade Turkish Ahar paper are truly great insights for us in the holistic crafts that makes up the traditions of classical calligraphy. Nevertheless, some great master calligraphers are also master paper makers and master illumination artists themselves. Read More

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