Volume: 8, No: 02 ; February-2014
Calligraphy is one of the most ancient arts of the world. It is an art of writing words or phrases in a captivating forms and style. Quitabat is a highly eminent form of artistic expression in the Muslim culture. It is important because it is derived from the holy book of Quran. Calligraphy became an instrument for expressing the God’s words which were recorded in Arabic script. Since the craft inclined towards the Muslim culture and tradition therefore it is practiced mainly by the Muslim communities and that to mainly by the men. Number of Muslim artists, as calligraphers, paper makers, illustrators and binders are involved in this art. Islam got introduced as a religion in the country after the coming in of the Mughal Empire. They used various ways and mediums to decorate their buildings, manuscripts, paintings, textiles, metal and ceramic ware, carpets etc.
In Lucknow the art form flourished during the period of the Nawabs. Different verses from Qurans were written on either paper or precious/ semi-precious stones in artistic form and decorated in palaces, homes etc. It is believed that a person wearing such kind of stone having verses written on it in calligraphy will face no misfortune in life. He will gain the ultimate position in the society. Presently the craft is practiced by few people settled in different places in and around Lucknow. Artisans are creating artistic pieces in Quitabat in Jarnailganj, Lucknow.
Tools and Raw Materials….
Raw Material: Quitabat is mainly done on paper or stone. Therefore artists use different handmade paper and precious and semi-precious stone to do the calligraphy. Mainly used stone is Jade, this stone is good for heart, and therefore, verses written on it are highly respected. Artists use fine handmade paper which are either imported from different countries or made in India using different techniques and materials.
Tools: Calligraphy is done either by carving on stone or by writing on paper. For carving various carving tools like chisels and hammers are used. These tools were traditionally made by the artists themselves according to their need. With change in time and with easy availability calligraphers now use industrial tools which are either hand or machine operated. For writing on papers traditionally the artist uses stylus made out of Sarkanda, (Saccharum spontaneum) also called as elephant grass. These styluses are traditionally called as Qulam, which are useful in achieving desired results. It helps in obtaining perfect balance between the structure and flow of various circular word forms. Different types of qualm used are:
- Kamish Qalam (made out of Sarkanda)
- Java Qalam (after the name of the island Java)
- Dashti Qalam
- Jali Qalam
The tip of the Sarkanda was cut in an angle mostly at 45 degrees. The angle decides the thickness of the lines. Sarkanda pens were replaced by G-nibs and now with availability of different calligraphy pens the traditional Qalams are losing their hold.
The process of calligraphy is simple yet intricate. It has the following main steps….
- Processing of stone/paper
Processing of stone/paper: The paper or stone are cut in desired shapes. Thereafter the surface is smoothen.
Writing: Artists use calligraphy styles to write and paint different verses of the holy Quran. The art of Quitabat is taught along with religious texts since the childhood in madrasas and advance schools.
Finishing: Once the writing or painting is done on the paper, it is turned over and burnished with a piece of stone called Hakik ka pathar. This gives a shine on the surface.
The stone pieces are smoothened using different buffs.
Quitabat was mainly used to ornament the building during the earlier times. It was also done on jewelries like rings, pendants, and armlet. Since it was believed that the art had the power to repel bad vibes therefore it was also engraved on weapons like, swords, daggers, handles etc. Artists also made monograms and seals using Quitabat. To save people (kings, warriors and kids) from bad luck, verses were written on small papers, packed and were worn as ornaments. These were called as taveez.
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