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Mazin Andijani explores the beauty of 'thuluth' calligraphy.

Rawan Radwan

Arabic calligraphy has seen its share of evolution since the birth of Islam and the beautifying of the Holy Qur'an's verses were a form of dedication and worship. The art of "khatt" or calligraphy is a special form of art that requires a steady hand, a commitment to follow the basics laws and understand that there is enough room for imagination but not to the extent where one would steer away from the rules. It's a difficult field to get involved in, but life requires us to search for beauty in all things. To some, calligraphy is that beautiful thing that is needed in their life. It's believed that calligraphy is an abstract expression of Islam, each according to their own cultural and aesthetic systems, as Islam spread beyond the Arabian Peninsula. The influx of this cultural diversity led to two major events; the birth of regional calligraphic schools and styles such as Ta'liq in Persia and Deewani in Turkey and second would be the need to reform the Arabic language. Of the different fonts that have been introduced to the Arabic script would be "thuluth" or one third. It's a form that was introduced in the 4th Hijri century with its curved, oblique lines and elegant cursive script replacing the straight angular form of Kufic, still used by many calligraphers to this day as their preferred form of calligraphy. Calligraphy has always been known as an old form of artistic expression, the latest artistic boom in the Kingdom has given a chance to many artists to come forth and show their proud beautiful works. With the help of social media platforms and numerous art shows and galleries popping up for the past five years, calligraphers can now showcase their work to audiences bringing back old arts that have thought to be long gone. Thuluth calligraphy has always captured Mazin Andijani from a very young age. With the constant support of his late mother, he began practicing from a very early age on the art of calligraphy in all its different fonts, only recently has he found his calling through "thuluth" calligraphy. Following the teachings of the "khat al mansoob" or proportioned script, Mazin's patience was put to the test as well as his concentration with regard to the laws of the thuluth script. "I've gotten back to practicing my calligraphy after a ten year break, encouraged by my wife, and I went through different phases testing out my skills with the different fonts until I found myself only preferring thuluth. I can't explain how I felt it was calling to me and I felt a connection. I felt most comfortable with it and there is beauty in the curve of the lines and delicate curved angles of every letter. There's a hidden beauty with each stroke under the rules that obligate you to follow them and only a true practitioner can sense it. Sure one can steer away from the rules but you can't break away from the norm or else it'd be something other than thuluth," exclaims Mazin. The tools and methods he prefers aren't of this time, he prefers the old ways just as the great calligraphers of their time used. His choice of paper would be the Ahar paper delivered specially from Turkey, Egypt or India, it's the most widely used paper due to its ability to keep the ink on top of the Ahar and not penetrate the fibers causing any smudging. The paper itself takes a long while from start to end taking up to about 10 days, they're made from all natural sources. The ink as well is made up of honey, Zamzam water and soot from ovens and the pens used are from real bamboo sharpened and defined accordingly. "We calligraphers who tend to use the old methods have attuned our skills to connect with the Creator, the first revelation to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) mentioned the pen to which Allah taught man of which he knew not. Each item I use all came from living beings, trees, plants, water-etc. They praise (tasbih) Allah in their own way," says Mazin. The method of which calligraphers choose their path is through a growing hobby that can take you through two paths of success; the first is to continue through personal efforts and the second would be through educational institutes. Due to the difficulty of enrolling into an institute, Mazin chose to continue his self teachings with the assistance of well-known teachers in the field such as Naser Al-Maimoon and Eng. Siraj Allaf and colleagues within the same field. He makes frequent visits to Turkey to review his work and get critiqued under the hands of some very well-known calligraphers. "My teachers have called my calligraphy to be a mixture between spirituality and modernity, staying away from ornaments and borders and staying within the boundaries of the rules that were placed more than 200 years ago. It's true that the thuluth is widely used in Qur'anic verses as an example, I've displayed a painting once with half a verse of the Qur'an and I've gotten some quizzical comments about it. It's a well-known verse and I chose it to be this way to grab the attention of the viewer and complete it himself, giving the painting an artistic visualization. With that, I still haven't strayed away from the rules." For more on the splendor of "thuluth" calligraphy, visit Mazin Andijani's page "Mazin_art_" on Instagram for a peak into the beautiful art that is calligraphy. - Email: [emailprotected]

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Sep 2, 2015
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