Female calligraphers in Kashmir have made significant contributions to the art form by expanding its scope and introducing new techniques. They have also pushed for greater recognition of this craft and encouraged more people to take up calligraphy as a profession. This shift has had a positive impact on both traditional and contemporary forms of Kashmiri calligraphy, making it more accessible and appreciated by people from all walks of life. Some young female calligraphers of Kashmir, who through their work are generating earnings and income through their art … A special feature by Babra Wani
Calligraphy has been a part of Kashmiri culture for centuries. It is known to be the most beautiful form of writing, and it has been carried on by many generations. In the last few years, there has been a resurgence in the practice of calligraphy in Kashmir, particularly among young women.
Female calligraphers have made significant contributions to the art form by expanding its scope and introducing new techniques. They have also pushed for greater recognition of this craft and encouraged more people to take up calligraphy as a profession. This shift has had a positive impact on both traditional and contemporary forms of Kashmiri calligraphy, making it more accessible and appreciated by people from all walks of life. Some young female calligraphers of Kashmir, who through their work are generating earnings and income through their art.
A young girl from Bandipora district of northern Kashmir, Shazia Anees, a teacher by profession began calligraphy during the pandemic in the summers of 2021. Talking to the reporters she said, “I was so drawn towards calligraphy that it began an everyday affair. I used to spend hours together in my room drawing and writing, I fell in love with the art form.”
Shazia holds a master’s degree in English literature and currently works as a teacher at a local school in Bandipora. Shazia believes that there is a “soul connect” between her and her calligraphy. As she says, “When you glance over my work, you are catching a glimpse of my soul. I find peace and relief in my work of art, for a part of me is in each piece I create.”
Shazia currently is working on different forms of calligraphy.
Shazia started taking orders after receiving positive feedback from the people. ” People started liking my work and I started receiving orders and that is how the business started,” she said. She began taking orders in 2021 and continues to do so.
Similarly Aneeza Noor a research scholar from Srinagar began calligraphy six years ago in 2016 and does calligraphy in both English and Arabic both the languages. “I am a calligraphist by mood,” she says. Aneeza admired various calligraphers since her childhood and used to write with ink pens during her school. Aneeza whose calligraphy goes by the name of ‘Calligo Calligraphy’ on Instagram started her business two years ago. She said, “Over time, I developed my abilities and began promoting my calligraphy frames on Facebook and Instagram.”
She however also added that arranging supplies for calligraphy proved to be challenging for her. Adding to it she had no expert assistance as well. But she made sure to arrange for qualms, inkwells, and other supplies through the help of the internet.
For Aneeza the positive response and feedback from the public is what kept her going. “The public appreciation of my art motivated me to start a business of calligraphy,” she added.
Aneeza initially to maintain her expenses, used to save her pocket money and buy calligraphy supplies. “But now I make enough money to manage the costs of my supplies,” she added.
She however also added that calligraphy does not fetch her enough money because of customer preferences, “Customers prefer less expensive digital calligraphy, yet, Alhamdulilah, I am satisfied.”
Through their work and dedication, these female calligraphers are helping to preserve this ancient art form and bringing it to the new generations. These young women are using this traditional art form to express their creativity.
Calligraphy was introduced in Kashmir by a scholar Bulbul Shah in and around the fourteenth century.
During the Covid19 pandemic lockdown many people in Kashmir took a liking towards doing something productive, especially with arts and crafts. Aiman Showkat a student of class eleventh from Baghat, Srinagar had a liking towards arts and crafts since childhood.
“I used to give handmade cards to my friends on their birthdays,” she said. For Aiman, her interest in calligraphy sparked in her childhood as she was fond of designing letters and alphabets.
Similarly, when almost the entire world was under lockdown last year due to the outbreak of deadly COVID-19, Farah Deeba in north Kashmir’s Bandipora had an opportunity to realize her childhood dream of becoming a calligrapher. With more time at home during the lockdown period, Farah would keep herself busy in writing Quranic verses on a calligraphy canvas.
Besides doing calligraphy, Farah has done M. Sc in Zoology and bachelor’s degree in Education. She has also done Masters of Arts in Sociology
She says with increased downtime during the lockdown she was able to hone her skills in calligraphy, as she would give more attention to it as compared to other home chores. Farah says she has been doing calligraphy for the last more than three years, however, the COVID-19 lockdown gave her enough time to hone her skills and work more on this creative art.
Farah says she is doing Kufic calligraphy, which is a style of Arabic script that gained prominence early on as a preferred script for Quran transcription and architectural decoration. She says she created a Facebook and Instagram page last year after being advised by her friend and she has been getting a good response to her art.
Apart from kufic calligraphy, she is doing art by using resin(resin material). She is also making resin ocean art, Rehal (holy book stand), and other products of resin.
Aiman Showkat another young girl from Baghat area of central Kashmir’s Srinagar city had a lot of interest in calligraphy since her childhood. “I used to make handmade cards for my friends on their birthdays and they started liking it a lot following which I started taking orders from people, she said, adding that she started earning handsomely.
Belonging to the Anantnag district of South Kashmir, Aqsa Nourien, popularly known as Noorein on Instagram is in her mid-twenties. She recently completed her BDS and currently is working with a private clinic. Aqsa started calligraphy in 2020, during Covid19 lockdown. “Till then I believed my writing was worth nothing but Alhamdulillah, Allah had different plans,” she said, ” More than I choosing calligraphy, I believe it chose me.” She believes that calligraphy brought her closer to Allah. Aqsa began calligraphy to “find peace and remember Allah.”
However for Aqsa the process was not free of challenges, “I was not working back then and asking parents for money to purchase supplies was not my thing,” adding further, “So I basically collected each item one by one myself hence it took me longer than usual.”
For Aqsa the thought of spreading Islamic art in households was inspiring. For her calligraphy was more than just a business, it was a feeling that “connected” her. She keeps trying new things and modern styles with her art. She also has tried resin art recently. After one year of practising calligraphy, Aqsa started to take orders, “In order to maintain my budget and to earn and buy new products.”