Mohammad Azmathulla goes around old monuments in Hyderabad collecting pigeon feathers lying on the ground. He comes home to clean them and fix artificial pearls at one end.
His real work starts now. He picks up his calligraphy pen to inscribe letters, names of friends and lines from Holy scriptures. “As far as I know, I am the only one who does feather calligraphy,” says the retired railway employee. He is among the 20 artists whose works are featured in the calligraphy exhibition organised in the Barid Shahi Palace function hall in Bidar.
The exhibition is organised by the Shaheen group of institutions and Siasat, the Hyderabad-based Urdu daily.
“It is very difficult to write on feathers as they are slippery. The pen gets stuck in the feathers and the letters can be distorted. That is why no one else seems to do this,” he said.
The artist has painted hundreds of names and sayings from Holy scriptures in English, Hindi and Urdu. He usually uses a single colour. But some times, he coats the feathers in a light shade of colour and uses multiple colours for the writing.
So does spot painter Abdul Lateef Farooqui. He creates stunning portraits in less than five minutes. Interestingly, he does not ask them to sit before him, but keeps observing and drawing sketches while they are doing something else. “I keep a bunch of sheets ready always, as I would be attracted to a face and feel like producing a caricature anytime,” he said. He has perfected the art of using geometrical designs in calligraphy. He also draws lines and letters on paintings of events described in the Holy Quran and other scriptures.
However, the master of the group is the 86-year-old Abdul Nayeem Saberi. He not only produces great works of calligraphy, but also trains young people in the art. He has trained more than 2,000 young people in the last 12-15 years.
Mr. Saberi also teaches young people how to make pens from bamboo shoots. He also helps women’s groups who recreate the calligraphic designs in embroidery and other craft forms.
The exhibition also displays wood work art where pieces of discarded wood pieces are joined to produce replicas of buildings or monuments.
Artists have produced copies of the original images of the house of Prophet Mohammad, the Kabah and the holy well at Makkah.
Some artists use a style that includes English letters, numbers and geometric designs. Some rearrange letters to create images of birds, animals and nature.
The Siasat trust was promoting the art of calligraphy among youth, Editor of the daily Zahid Ali Khan told The Hindu. He said their art works were showcased in exhibitions in New Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad. “We are training more than 300 women in various types of handicrafts and home industries. The trust also offers a total of Rs. 1 crore in scholarships to students per year,” he said.
“We are working at providing an online platform for artists to sell their wares,” said Managing Editor of the daily Zaheer Ali Khan.
Shaheen education society secretary Abdul Quadeer, spoke of plans to organise calligraphy classes for youth. The exhibition concludes today.