The exhibition was inaugurated on March 16 by H.E Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Department. The opening was attended by the Malaysian Ambassador to the UAE, Datuk Ahmad Anwar Adnan, Dr. Heba Nayel Barakat Curator, IAMM, Dr. Ulrike Al KhamisStrategic Advisor SMD, and a number of VIP guests.
‘Rhythm & Verses – Persian Calligraphy’ from the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia includes Quranic verses, spiritual sayings, poems and official declarations as composed by the most famous Persian calligraphers of all time. 38 single page calligraphies dating from the 16th to the 19th century AD are on display, as well as a rare Qajar album of calligraphic masterpieces from the 19th century.
The exhibition is the first time these ornate compositions are being presented in the UAE. It is the result of the inaugural collaboration between Sharjah Museums Department (SMD) and the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM).
Rhythm & Verses runs from March 16 to June 18 to coincide with the Sharjah Calligraphy Biennale, when thousands of people congregate in the city to celebrate the beauty and significance of the written letter.
Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Department, said: “Rhythm & Verses is one of our most important exhibitions and is crucial for the appreciation and understanding of Islamic heritage in the UAE.”
“The exhibition highlights not just the exquisite technical ability of the calligraphers, but their incredible intellectual and spiritual commitment to the practice, resulting in some of the greatest achievements in the history of Islamic art,” he added.
“Our thanks go to the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia for making this exhibition possible. We look forward to welcoming a diverse range of visitors, from calligraphy experts at the Sharjah Calligraphy Biennale to students and art-loving members of the public who will have the rare opportunity to appreciate the splendor of these pieces,” he said.
Once keenly collected in the albums of prominent collectors and connoisseurs throughout the Islamic world, the selected artworks offer a unique gateway to the most popular and distinguished styles used in Persian Calligraphy. These include Naskh and Riqa’, Ta’liq and Nasta’liq, Shikasta, and Siyah Mashq.
The pieces represent contributions by some of the famous Persian calligraphers in history, including Shah Mahmud Nishapuri (died circa 1564 AD), Sayyid Mir ‘Imad al-Hasani (died 1615 AD), and Dervish Abdul Majid Taliqani (died circa 1771 AD).
Each of the pieces was conceived as a unique artwork, the calligraphed text carefully designed to be pleasing to the eye, while at the same echoing the rhythm and musicality of its spoken equivalent.
The gentle swaying style of the wording – a reflection of the melodies and rhythms of their spoken form – is highlighted in the exhibition titleRhythm & Verse. Viewers will be encouraged to not only appreciate the aesthetic beauty of the pieces but to imagine the calligrapher softly reciting the words as he wrote.
Dr Heba Nayel Barakat, Head of Curatorial at IAMM, said “the title of the exhibition, Rhythm & Verses, was chosen specifically to emphasise the fact that in classical Persian calligraphy the ultimate aim of the scribe was to visualise and complement the technical and aesthetic virtuosity of the reciter and poet as well as the composer and musician.”
He went on to add, “our objective is for each person who encounters a piece to be drawn into a different world of sound, rhythm, and contemplation and to appreciate the intangible richness of its tangible beauty.”
The exhibition will include a series of workshops in which families will be invited to appreciate the calligraphies on display and then recreate the styles under the guidance of expert tutors.
For more information about Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, please visit www.sharjahmuseums.ae.