Festival of India launched with Islamic calligraphy exhibition

|     James Kon     |

THE Festival of India in Brunei Darussalam in the year of the Golden Jubilee of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s Accession to the Throne was kicked off with the ‘Exhibition of Islamic Calligraphy’ at the Malay Technology Museum yesterday.

Organised by the High Commission of India in Brunei Darussalam and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) of the Government of Brunei Darussalam, the exhibition marks the beginning of a series of events to highlight the significance of the Golden Jubilee in the history of Brunei and desires to acknowledge the personal contribution of His Majesty in strengthening the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports as the guest of honour and Nagma M Mallick, High Commissioner of India to Brunei Darussalam officiated at the opening ceremony of the exhibition which will run until November 25, 2017.

The exhibition is showcasing 36 photographs of rare pieces of calligraphy from the extraordinary collection of the Rampur Raza Library in India.

Nagma M Mallick in her welcoming remarks highlighted, “This exhibition is a gesture of friendship and solidarity from the Government of India to the Government and people of Brunei Darussalam. It emphasises the links between our cultures. I hope that the links will grow stronger and that our people can discover and build upon them through more exchanges.”

On the exhibition, she said, “These pieces (on showcase) are from the Rampur Raza Library, repository of over 3,000 rare pieces of calligraphy, miniature paintings and manuscripts. The displayed items are enlarged photographs of the original calligraphy pieces which are somewhat smaller. The original items are on paper, sometimes on silk and are quite fragile.”

Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports and Nagma M Mallick, High Commissioner of India to Brunei Darussalam officiate the opening ceremony of the exhibition yesterday. – PHOTOS: JAMES KON
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports viewing the exhibits of rare pieces of calligraphy from the large and extraordinary collection of the Rampur Raza Library, India
High Commissioner of Australia to Brunei Darussalam, Nicola Rosenblum taking a closer look at the exhibits
One of the exhibits by Hafiz Muhammad Baaqar ‘Zarrin Qalam’

The High Commissioner added, “Islamic or Arabic calligraphy is the artistic practice of highly stylised writing usually based on Arabic language of words or verses from the Holy Quran or of the names of Allah the Almighty.

“It has flourished in lands with a shared Islamic heritage. The letters are executed with one stroke of a traditional broad-tipped pen called Qalam. It is probably the most respected Islamic art linking language, religion and artistic endeavour.”

The essence of this art form is the balance struck by calligraphers between transmitting a text and glorifying it with artistry and beauty.

India has an ancient tradition of artistic embellishment and carving in stone, and a highly-developed aesthetic sense that showed in its music, dance, textiles and other arts of the ancient period.

With the arrival of the Islamic tradition in the Indian subcontinent, the two traditions began a slow process of integration that produced, by the 17th and 18th centuries, the incandescent artistic, musical and cultural blossoming of the Mughal period.

Also present at the launching ceremony was Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Juanda bin Haji Abdul Rashid, Permanent Secretary at the MCYS, Professor Syed Hassan Abbas, Director of the Rampur Raza Library as well as diplomats and invited guests.

Following the ceremony, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports toured the exhibition to take a closer look at the displays.

The Festival of India will be celebrated with varied events till March 2018.