Beauty of Arabic calligraphy bridges gap between cultures

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  1. al-Hasani
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    al-Hasani ELITE MEMBER

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    Japanese calligrapher Nora Noboko Sajawa instructs visitors on Arabic calligraphy. — Courtesy photo

    Amal Al-Sibai
    Saudi Gazette

    JEDDAH — The Knowledge Enrichment programs that are showcased at the 1001 Inventions Exhibition in Jeddah is still enthralling and fascinating its visitors.

    It will be open until February 13 to offer its visitors an unforgettable learning experience about the Muslim heritage.

    Although the main focus of this exhibition revolves around the leaps made by Muslims in the fields of mathematics and sciences, there is an equally impressive corner dedicated to the arts.

    This corner displays the elegant flow and indisputable beauty of the art of Arabic calligraphy.

    Surprisingly, proudly seated behind the display of the elegantly written Arabic alphabet is a Japanese Muslim woman, not an Arab.

    She is an honored guest at the exhibition and she has perfected the skill of writing almost all types of Arabic calligraphy and drawing Islamic art designs and patterns.

    Nora Noboko Sajawa is an instructor of Arabic calligraphy and Islamic art and design courses at both Wako University and Osaka University in Japan and is a member of the Japan Arabic Calligraphy Association which aims to introduce Arabic calligraphy to Japan.

    The idea is to help Japanese people deepen their understanding of Muslims and Islam through a common interest — Arabic calligraphy.

    At the exhibition, her exquisite display is attracting hundreds of visitors as they huddle around her to admire her writings and to learn from her.

    She is delighted to teach the basic steps of calligraphy to children of all ages and also adults who have a passion for the Arabic handwriting.

    Sajawa patiently shows visitors how to hold and use the reed pen and the bottled carbon-based ink.

    The reed pen is the traditional instrument used for writing Arabic calligraphy.

    This is preferred over a pen with a metal tip, because the flexibility of the natural material allows for a greater range of motion while writing.

    Sometimes the reed pen is replaced with a pen made from bamboo or the thorn of a palm tree or from carved wood, or a felt-tip pen with a slanted tip.

    This is not Sajawa’s first time to visit Saudi Arabia as she has participated in Arabic calligraphy exhibitions in the Kingdom before and has met with famous calligraphers such as Ibrahim Al-Arrafi and Saud Khan.

    “I was happy to participate at Saudi Aramco’s Knowledge Enrichment program. I was impressed by the youth’s interest in the Arabic handwriting and their fervor to learn the skill by hand, despite the growing availability of high-tech electronic typing devices and software,” said Sajawa.

    Sajawa has mastered the six styles of Arabic calligraphy: deewani, kufi, naskh, riqa’a, ta’leeq, and thuluth.

    “Learning the styles and intricate details of the Arabic calligraphy is extremely difficult and painstaking and there are times when I regretted specializing in this field. However, my love for the beauty of the Arabic letters always outweighed any obstacle that I faced during my learning. When I was seven years old, while staring at the world map, I spotted the Arabic writing on the location of Saudi Arabia, and I was pulled by the Arabic language ever since. I read the tale 1001 Nights, and I was so intrigued by it that I dreamt of the desert, the minarets and the dome of mosques, palaces, and the Arabic characters,” said Sajawa.

    She persisted in her studies at the Arabic Islamic Institute in Tokyo, founded by the Saudi government and accredited by Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University.

    Afterwards she traveled to Damascus where she lived for two years, studying Arabic calligraphy and the language.

    Her travels in search of satisfying her passion for the Arabic language and culture also took her to Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco.

    Arabic calligraphy is unique and eye-catching; it was born in the Middle Eastern countries and it rapidly spread to surrounding areas.

    How to write the Holy Quran precisely and beautifully was one of the most important subjects to the calligraphers.

    Through time, the adept skill of these calligraphers spilled over to other areas and disciples.

    Now calligraphy is an important part of the Islamic arts to adorn mosques, museums, universities, and more.

    Calligraphers like Sajawa believe that teaching Arabic calligraphy is one way to bridge the gap between Arab and Japanese peoples.

    Beauty of Arabic calligraphy bridges gap between cultures | Kingdom | Saudi Gazette
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  2. LadyAleena
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    LadyAleena MEMBER

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    Wow , thanks for sharing this ^_^

    Indeed Arabic is a beautiful language !
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  3. al-Hasani
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    al-Hasani ELITE MEMBER

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    Thank you. That was kind of you. Welcome to the forum and please enjoy your stay. Just ignore the many trolls and anti-Muslims.:)
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