Art of Arabic calligraphy [Archives:2003/661/Last Page]

August 21 2003
Mr. Abdulghani Yahya al-Abarah
Mr. Abdulghani Yahya al-Abarah
The Arabic calligraphic style
The Arabic calligraphic style
The old Hymiarite alphabets used by the ancient Yemenis
The old Hymiarite alphabets used by the ancient Yemenis
Abdo Moqbil Al-Sabiri
Arabic language belongs to the group of Semitic alphabets which developed around 1700 B.C. in Palestine and Syria.
The Arabic, Hebrew and Phoenicians alphabets were based on that model.
The North Arabic script, which eventually prevailed and became the Arabic script of the Qurn'an, relates most substantially and directly to the Nabatian script, which was derived from the Aramaic script.
With the spread of Islam, the Arabic alphabet was adapted by several non-Arab nations for writing their own languages.
From its simple and primitive early examples of the 5th and 6th century A.D., the Arabic alphabet developed rapidly after the rise of Islam in the 7th century into a beautiful genre of art.
The main two families of calligraphic styles were the dry styles, called generally the Kufic, and the soft cursive styles which include Naskh, Thuluth, Nastaliq and many others.
In order to know all there is to know about the reality of the Arabic calligraphy, the Yemen Times reporter, Mr. Abduh M. Assabri met with a famous Yemeni calligrapher Abdulghani Yahya al-Abarah and filed the following interview:
Q: What are your beginnings with the Arabic calligraphy?
A: My scratches were first started at school and the Arabic calligraphy was included by the Education Ministry and was taught as an independent subject.
Then, I started buying books and magazines on Arabic calligraphy.
I also joined several courses on Arabic calligraphy in some private institutes. I have greatly benefited and learned from some prominent and qualified calligraphers.
Since 1988 and up till now, I have been working on a research on the history of Arabic calligraphy.
Several articles focused basically on the Arabic calligraphy have been published at the Athawra Daily.
During that long period, I have been working as a calligrapher at the Yemeni Economic Corporation.
I have been currently appointed as a cultural representative at the Yemeni Calligraphers Society.
Q: Have you been influenced by some eminent Arab calligraphers?
I have been greatly influenced by several eminent calligraphers such as the late , Mousa Azmi, Abdulaziz Arrefa'e, Hashim Mohammed al-Beghdadi and Abbas Baghdadi.
Q: The Arabic calligraphy has made civilizations meet, could you extend this point a little further?
If compared to any other calligraphy in the world, the Arabic calligraphy enjoys unique aesthetics and characteristics.
This reminds us of a great English historian, Arnold when commenting on the great significance of the Arabic calligraphy saying that the Arabic calligraphy spread out side by side with the Islamic conquering armies sent to the adjacent as well as far-flung countries.
The more enormous those states became, the more proliferating the Arabic calligraphy was.
In this regard, the Arabic calligraphy exceeds the states' borders and has become an integral part of the artist's portraits in Europe.
The Arabic letter enjoys aesthetic characteristics, flexibility and harmony.
Some of them have already started learning the Arabic calligraphy.
As a result, Arabic calligraphy fairs have been held.
The most obvious examples were Dr. Fuad Hunda, a well-known Japanese calligrapher, Mohammed Zakaria, is an American origin also a well-known calligrapher.
This is a clear testimony of the universality of the Arabic calligraphy.
This takes place in a time in which the Arabic calligraphy has not been paid any due attention by our Arab peoples.
Languages where the Arabic calligraphy is used have reached to 30.000 languages in the four corners of the world. The Persian languages were written in the Arabic calligraphy by the Iranians.
The Urdu language were written by the Indians and the Turkish language were written by Ottomans using the Arabic script.
Q: What is the official role in supporting the Arabic calligraphy?
A: First of all, there are several reasons behind taking no interest of the Arabic calligraphy including the absence of the official role.
The emergence of some other calligraphers who in some cases deal with the Arabic calligrapher away from rules and disciplines which were adopted by forefathers.
We can say here that the rapid increase of technological aspects particularly computers has greatly affected the real beauty of the Arabic calligraphy.
Those computers have mainly depended on low skilled people and the computer fonts have distorted calligraphy's real image. This in my own personal point of view that has made the people concerned to turn a blind eye to both the calligraphers and the art of calligraphy.
Not even a sense of interest has been paid to such kind of art. It is not treated as a creative art. The lack of awareness on part of most calligraphers has made the Arabic calligraphy appear to be marred and lacks simplest aesthetic values.
Q: What are the calligraphic contributions during 2004?
A: Preparations are in full swing to hold a calligraphic fair during 2004 along with approving incentive prizes for participants in that fair.
In addition to this, Arabic-related symposium are to be held in the context of history of the Arabic calligraphy as well as honoring some prominent Yemeni calligraphers.
Q: How do you perceive the art of calligraphy in Yemen?
A: Despite the lack of awareness and of not paying any due attention to the Arabic calligraphy whether by the public or private institutions and bodies and unavailability of an institute of the fine arts in Yemen, Yemen has been the original home for the Arabic calligraphy.
There are lots of creative people in this regard including the Yemeni well-known calligrapher, Mr. Naser Annassari, Mr. Hamoud al-Banna, Mr. Abduraqeeb al-Udi, and others.
There is no room here to mention all Yemeni calligraphers. Each one of them possesses the capability in aesthetic and artistic expression. They are the first seeds to establish an institute or a school for teaching the Arabic calligraphy.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: I have completed a book titled The Arabic Calligraphy, Art & History.
It has been handed to the culture ministry in order to be included within 2004 publications in order to crown Sana'a as the capital of the Arab Culture in 2004.
I am at present preparing a book centering on the Arabic Calligraphy in Yemen and the pioneering calligraphers.
Unfortunately, such projects have been brought to a standstill. What is needed is financial support. We attach high hopes to the culture minister, Mr. Khaled Arrowaishan to support us in this regard and to complete our project before the end of 2004.
Q: Any last comment?
A: What I want to say through the Yemen Times is that I hope that the president of the republic would issue his directives in order to establish an institute for the fine arts in the capital of Sana'a.
This dream is the dream of every calligrapher and artist in Yemen.