Turkey Holds a Global Islamic Calligraphy Competition to Highlight Its Artistic Form

Published January 22nd, 2021 - 03:07 GMT
God is the light of skies and earth (Shutterstock)
God is the light of skies and earth (Shutterstock)

Albaraka Turk bank organises a global competition to help preserve the art for future generations and increase public awareness and appreciation for the intricate form

A famous saying in Turkey goes, “The Quran was revealed in Mecca; recited in Cairo; and written in Istanbul” relaying the centrality of the holy scripture of Muslims, as well as the different mediums, including psalmody and calligraphy, that major cities of the Islamic world have historically been known for. 

In Istanbul, which has historically been a centre of Islamic calligraphy, the spirit of this art is imbued in every facet of the city, where tombstones, mosques, as well as unexpected fountains among contemporary buildings display this intricate and grand, yet subtle form. 

The Albaraka Turk International Calligraphy Competition aims to both preserve the classical Islamic arts, particularly calligraphy, and introduce the arts to the general public by increasing awareness and interest. The competition has officially opened for entries, under the theme, “Society and Good Morality".

Calligraphers, or hattats will have until April 15, 2021 to submit their works, which will then be judged by a panel of judges including, M. Ugur Derman, Hasan Celebi, M. Husrev Subasi, Savas Cevik, Ali Toy, Mehmed Ozcay, and Davut Bektas. Winners of the competition will receive a total of 600,000 Turkish liras ($81,000), and the award-winning pieces will join Albaraka’s art collection after being decorated by illumination artists, which are displayed in exhibitions around the world, and are included in the Albaraka Calendar every year. 

The competition has been held every three years since 2005 on different themes, which have included, “Absolute Beauty,” “Solidarity and Charity,” “Justice and Rightful Share,” “Donation,” and “Supplication.”

For centuries, the art was preserved traditionally, through the master-apprentice relationship. In 1928, it became largely disregarded in Turkey--and almost disappeared altogether--as thousands of calligraphic masterpieces were destroyed. 

Calligraphy was revived by subsequent generations, but never fully recovered from what has been called a “trauma” by calligraphers and historians. Today, many specialised schools and programs have been established, and the continued master-apprentice relationship helps the art endure. 

Calligraphy, or hat, means fine writing; specifically, it is described as a “spiritual geometry developed by physical instruments.” It is the art of handwriting, particularly verses of the  Quran, which is the holy book of Muslims; hadiths, which are authentic sayings of the Prophet Muhammed, whom Muslims hold to be the final prophet of God; and literary poems. It is known to be one of the most challenging arts to master, both on a physical and spiritual level, and holds a central place in the Islamic world. 

Further information about the contest can be found at www.albarakahat.com.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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